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By Caroline Masse, Associate Vice President

Questioning the value of general education courses is not something new in higher education. Students often feel that the jobs of today—jobs in the digital economy—require a sole focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), while courses outside of those areas offer little value or linkage to a lucrative career.

However, gen ed courses are a necessary part of a well-rounded education that prepares you for your entire career journey. They are also a critical place to build meaningful, lifelong skills that support innovation, creativity, and empathy—skills that have economic value.

It’s important that you—the student—can see a clear connection between these courses and career outcomes. After all, you are investing your time and money, and the value should be apparent.

So, we did our research. We met with employers to better understand the skills they’re looking for, and how we can prepare you for those jobs. From those conversations, we identified a set of 10 essential skills and embedded those skills into our liberal arts and humanities courses [see below].

By explicitly linking these skills to coursework such as history or philosophy, we answer your question about value. You will be able to see why those courses are important.

FOR EXAMPLE: You are asked to examine a philosophical work and identify themes. In the process of doing so, you might ask questions, become curious, explore other resources, and identify patterns. These skill-building activities will help you navigate ambiguity and adapt to change—critical skills that employers look for.

In addition to helping you acquire those critical skills, we also want to help you learn how to promote them. An assessment tool will help you track your growth in those skill sets, and reward you with microcredentials as you progress along the skill-building journey.

Before you’ve even graduated, you will be able to show a solid foundation in the skills employers are looking for, and you’ll be more confident in what you can do. You might even look back on those general education courses fondly as you grow your career, expertly navigating complex workplaces and people.

10 essential skills for success in today’s job market that you will learn in gen ed courses

Communication writing, oral communication, persuasion, collaboration, active listening

Problem Solving critical thinking, decision making, ethical reasoning, scientific reasoning, information literacy

Data Analysis mathematical reasoning, quantitative analysis, quantitative communication

Productivity planning, organizing, time management

Digital Proficiency desktop technology, web-based technology

Creativity/Innovation curiosity, divergent thinking

Agility urgency, adaptability, focus

Confidence and Self-Efficacy positive/growth mindset, personal accountability

Self- and Social-Awareness self-reflection, empathy

Drive/Initiative self-motivation, initiative, determination, perseverance


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