What is liberal education? Myths vs facts

19 August 2021 — Written by Arpit Chhikara

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Modern careers require a modern approach to education. What is the solution? Liberal education. The reason being the opportunity it gives to young learners to unlock the endless potential within them. But there are few myths around liberal education. Therefore, today we’ll share insights to clear them up and give you a finer, more real picture.

Myth: Liberal education is for those who don’t seek academic rigour

Fact: The word ‘liberal’ is often misconstrued as a lack of rigour, structure or seriousness. However, the ‘liberal’ in liberal education means quite the opposite. It refers to liberating a learner’s mind from constraints. It teaches learners how to think critically, communicate clearly, build problem solving abilities, appreciate others, understand the physical world and connect and collaborate with empathy.

 Liberal education is for those who don't seek academic rigour

In fact, the most serious, passionate and driven learners gravitate towards a liberal education for the freedom, flexibility and multiple dimensions it offers.

Myth: A liberal arts education won’t land me a ‘good’ or ‘respectable’ job

Fact: Fact: The purpose of education is to get a meaningful job and career while making one realise the potential they have within to impact the world. Students who graduate with a liberal arts degree go on to take up roles in equity research, analytics, marketing, relationship management, banking and consulting. A college degree can give you resume skills, but liberal education teaches you life skills first. A thriving career follows thereafter. There is no hard and fast way to success, right?

A lot of sales nowadays happen online but don’t we have people working in the field of sales in varying capacities? The job market is rapidly changing, sure. But the demand for skills, today and in the future, will be closely interlinked and interconnected with humanities and arts. Therefore it makes sense to take a multidisciplinary outlook to education, something that liberal education offers. A liberal arts education, simply put, equips you with all the skills you need for various jobs of today’s fast evolving world that of the future!

Myth: A liberal arts degree is only for those interested in fine arts

Fact: Fine arts could be a part of liberal education curriculum but it isn’t what liberal arts really means. A liberal arts degree offers foundational knowledge across many different subject areas. Students will find themselves exposed to ideas and topics ranging from art and music to science and math.

A liberal arts degree is only for those interested in fine arts

We must understand that it is a broad term that can be used to encompass everything from theater arts to economics. Here are a few liberal arts majors:

  • History
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Economics
  • Math
  • Political science
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

And so much more! With a multidisciplinary approach to learning, liberal education is where magic happens both in and out of the classroom.

Myth: Liberal education is way too Western for us in India

Fact: Too western or not, we’d say that it’s just perfect for India! It’s high time that we look beyond engineering and medicine when considering career options. There is a reason why so many of our talented and skilled young people move overseas. Because we have less opportunities or avenues here in India for aspiring people to find a way to success. But we can change that. We can change the course for the better by expanding our views and creating newer and richer opportunities we know we’re capable of.

Hence, liberal education is a way to improve the future of Indian education and careers by nurturing the potential of holistic young leaders.

Myth: Liberal education builds soft skills and not resume skills

Fact: Soft skills, well, might look softer than resume skills but they are just as important. And some professionals say that they might be even more important than the technical skills. That’s because soft skills help define if you’re a team player, able to build good relationships at the workplace and engage with customers. They also indicate if you’re able to evolve and adapt to challenging situations. Not to mention, soft skills allow you to make the best use of your resume skills by negotiating, selling and marketing better. Soft skills combined with a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving leads to better results, both in the classroom and workplace.

Liberal education builds soft skills and not resume skills

Here are some critical soft skills you need to have that a degree in liberal arts helps you build:

  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication


So there you have it! Not everything we know or believe about liberal education is 100% accurate. That is why it is important to rely on experts.

At Beyond 8, we have been creating transformative pathways for liberal education and it is a joy to see our learners discover the true joys of learning and go on to incredible things in their lives and careers. If you enjoyed reading this blog, you’ll surely love Nadini Ramesh, co-founder of Beyond8, who bust these myths in her video.

Do get in touch with us at www.beyond8.in and together we’ll figure out how liberal education can make your child’s learning and career journey more rewarding.

Beyond 8

Beyond 8 provides transformative pathways for high school learners to pursue the best collegiate liberal education in India & abroad.

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