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Reasons a Liberal Arts Education Is Advantageous for Business Students

written by: Natalia Brophy•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/8/2011

Business students often complain that they have to take a number of liberal arts courses which are irrelevant to their major and therefore, useless. This is very far from the truth. Advantages of a liberal arts education for business students are plentiful.

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    Critical Thinking

    The liberal arts education aims to develop critical thinking, which is crucial for a person working in business. Since most liberal arts classes are organized around reading books, writing papers and holding discussions, they help business students become proficient in finding, analyzing and managing ideas and teach them how to apply them in various situations.

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    Open-Mindedness

    We live in the world which is turning global and no matter where you work, chances are good you will be working with or maybe even for people from different cultures and backgrounds. Liberal arts education helps students broaden their understanding of the world and different societies and as a result, makes them more open-minded towards other people and different ideas. It also encourages creative and free thinking, which are the engines of success in business.

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    Leadership Skills

    Liberal arts classes help business students develop and polish their leadership skills such as problem solving, organization and responsibility to society. You can be fantastic with numbers and be a master in creating business plans, but unless you have leadership skills, it will be very hard for you to advance at work.

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    Foreign Language Knowledge

    No matter which foreign language you choose to satisfy your liberal arts education requirement, your resume will look much better than the one of a person who speaks only English. It is true that many foreigners speak English, so if you were to travel abroad on a business trip, it is possible that you will be able to communicate in your native language. However, it is a myth that “everyone" speaks English.

    According to the CIA World Fact book, only 5.6% of the world’s population speaks English as their primary language and less than 20% speak English as their second or third language.

    Learning a foreign language has proved to increase the native language ability. Studies show that people who know at least one foreign language have stronger vocabulary skills in their native language and have greater understanding of the language in general.

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    Communication Skills

    Other advantages of liberal arts education for business students include communication skills, such as writing and speaking.

    Many graduates who slept through their communication courses or simply didn’t have to take them often struggle at their workplace. Preparing reports, writing business offers or even letters to your partners or customers requires good writing skills, which many business graduates are lacking. Negotiating with potential partners, presenting ideas and simply communicating with your employers and employees is impossible without the ability to speak well and to express your ideas concisely and clearly.

    Good writing and speaking skills can take you far in your workplace. If you were job hunting already, you have probably noticed that most employers are searching for people with good oral and writing skills. These skills can not be faked on a job interview, so if you are not confident in your communication skills, maybe it is a good idea to take a couple of extra courses in writing or speaking.

    So next time before you start whining about taking a foreign language, public speaking or other liberal arts courses, think about all the benefits of a liberal arts education for business students. Remember that each course you take will make you a more skillful and more marketable business graduate.

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    Sources used:

    CIA The World FactBook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/