The New Liberal Arts – Sanford J. Ungar

In his essay “The New Liberal Arts”, Sanford J. Ungar argues that a liberal education just might be what Americans should strive for, not deny. Seven points were made by Ungar addressing misconceptions within said topic and his response to those misconceptions. Sanford first starts by stating the first common misconception “A liberal-arts degree is a luxury that most families can no longer afford. “Career education” is what we now must focus on”(They Say I Say, 190). Sanford argues that jobs are actually looking for people who are educated in the liberal arts because it produces critical and analytical thinking instead of being specialized in one subject. The next misconception that Ungar makes is that students are actually finding it harder to find jobs with a liberal arts degree because “Who wants to hire some somebody with an irrelevant major like philosophy or French?” (191). Ugar quickly combats said argument by stating that not only do liberal arts degree holders are finding it hard to find a job, but everyone else is as well due to the failing economy. “But what if you’re in a low-income first-generation college student?, wouldn’t it be better to go into a specific field to guarantee your position” (191)? Would be the next questions that Sanford attacks in his essay, he explains that it is ignorant to think that just because a student is first-generation that they cant receive the same education and thinking capability as someone with the means to afford that type of education. The kind of thinking that these questions evoke some might say are borderline-prejudice, just a matter of the rich getting the better end of the bargain and the less-fortunate; the lower. Said thinking was actually used in the fourth misconception discussed in Sanford’s essay, stating that students should focus more on the science and mathematical side of education because “thats where all the action is”(192). He explains how the liberal arts does take foot in the broadest parts of the sciences and mathematics. Some people may also argue that liberal Democrats got this country into trouble in the past so why take up a liberal education as stated in the fifth misconception in Sanford’s essay. Sanford goes on to say that a liberal education really has nothing to do with politics when in fact people who do get a liberal education can have an educated conversation and think for themselves, not giving into what they’ve been told. Some people may argue, “America is the only country in the world that clings on such an old form of post secondary education” states the sixth misconception, while Ungar states that not only are other countries coming to the United States to admire their post secondary education like China, but are soon to be implemented as means of their own education. Finally, the seventh and last misconception stated in Sanford’s essay states the belief of some that the cost of American higher education is rising and the liberal degree lacks the productivity and innovation that other certain degrees may have. Ungar quickly counters by stating that by choosing a small liberal arts school, you get more one on one time with professors and faculty, which eventually would lead to a better education which in turn would lead to more innovation and analytical thinking from the students.

Personally, I think that Sanford J. Ungar is completely right in what he believes. A liberal education is nothing to be tampered with. Students with a liberal art degree do tend to think “outside-the-box” compared to their specialized brethren. Ungar states “Through immersion in liberal arts, students learn not just to make a living, but also to live a life rich in values and character”. Ungar is trying to say, in basic terms, that attaining liberal arts degree won’t mean that your life is going to be spent working a aimless nine-to-five, but instead build your character so that you can go into the real world and think for your self.


About bryanwithat

19, college, life.
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