First Destination Preparation: The Role of the Liberal Arts
Taylor, Angela King
This study aims to build a deeper understanding of the extent to which liberal arts experiences lead to the building of liberal arts skills and to determine whether these skills ultimately help students arrive at their first destination post-graduation. To this end, we worked with the The Honors College (THC) at the Northwest Research University* to see how current and former students engaged with and benefited from their honors college experience. We utilized a mixed-methods approach, including a qualitative, quantitative, and benchmarking component, to explore the experiences of THC students and alumni. Our study finds that while students do obtain liberal arts skills that can help them reach their first destinations, they are often unable to translate and apply these skills into professional workplaces, especially non-academic ones. This study provides an important addition to the literature as it explores the role of liberal arts experiences on students’ first post-graduation outcomes, such as employment, prestigious fellowships, graduate programs, and in some cases, an intentional gap year. It further confirms that liberal arts skills can be cultivated outside of the traditional liberal arts college environment. *These are pseudonyms.
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