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10 Transferable Skills You Learned During Your College Education

Updated on October 29, 2015
A liberal art education tackles subjects from philosophy to poetry to anatomy and physiology.
A liberal art education tackles subjects from philosophy to poetry to anatomy and physiology.

A well-rounded education

A liberal arts education gets a bad rap, often being called a worthless college degree.

The so-called uselessness is really a reflection of the graduate: He or she didn't learn how to market the transferable skills -- perhaps is not even aware of those skills -- to find gainful employment.

I have compiled a list of 10 transferable skills that any liberal arts graduate -- any college graduate, really -- should possess and market when trying to find employment.

These skills you develop are not dependent on the major. The key is marketing the transferable skills.

1. Market yourself

Liberal arts such as English, history, psychology, art, philosophy, and speech courses have at least one commonality: the dreaded research essay.

Research papers, along with the presentation that often accompanies it, are a staple in liberal arts courses. Forcing students to argue a viewpoint, original essays and presentations promote persuasive skills.

Persuasion is a core skill that will impact how well you market the next nine skills.

2. Critical thinking

Summarizing a topic is an important skill, but critically thinking about a topic is just as important.

Scholarship, along with working world, constantly changes. New ideas need to be analyzed; new problems need to be solved -- all of which require critical thinking skills.

3. Communication skills

Communication skills are one of the most sought-after traits by employers.

A degree in the liberal arts capitalizes on communications, teaching listening skills, along with nonverbal and verbal skills by interacting with a diverse body of people.

4. Teamwork

Teamwork is commonplace in the working world and speeds up the efficiency of a business.

Teamwork is also common in the liberal arts realm. For example, many humanities courses feature group discussions, where individual groups will work on a specific task and contribute their findings to the entire class.

Learning to work in groups and divide the labor is a skill that begins in the classroom and continues on throughout the workplace.

5. Work independently

Although teamwork is valuable, learning to work by yourself is just as important.

Some projects lend themselves to individuality; working independently teaches responsibility and accountability.

6. Time management

An education in time management begins the freshman year.

With four or five classes a semester, students learn to juggle their course load. They learn time management skills, which transfer well into the working world.

7. Budget and money management

Students, many of whom are living on their own for the first time, learn an education in money management and budgeting.

Money management can also be learned through extra-curricular activities -- the school paper, chess club, math club -- all of which have a budget.

But budgeting doesn't have to be learned through extra-curricular activities. Upper-level students often budget a program of study in their independent study courses, then develop a plan.

8. Plan

Planning is important when dealing with projects; otherwise, the project remains a project indefinitely and is never finished.

College is filled with chances to practice planning skills. Liberal arts graduates have experience planning essays, outlines, presentations, along with other projects they may have completed.

9. Leadership

Learning to plan is a key element in leadership roles -- a role for which companies actively recruit. Leadership skills are homed in the humanities through group discussion work.

10. Appreciation for learning

With a well-rounded education, students never stop learning.

The working world, which is ever-changing, requires people that want to learn a new skill or learn how to improve themselves or their company.

Your turn ...

A liberal education will provide graduates with oodles of transferable skills -- all of which are applicable in the working world. One key is to be aware of those core skills and market them to employers, using concrete examples.

I've only scratched the surface with 10 transferable skills. What other core skills do you think are important? Let me know in the comments below.


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    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 4 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Voted up. Learn to think and solve problems, then you can adjust to whatever the economy throws at you.

    • profile image

      paralegalpro 5 years ago

      When I was a student I often wondered what I was going to do with a bachelor's degree in English. I thought I might teach or write, but I wasn't really sure. I ended up working as a Legal Analyst in a corporate legal department. My job: monitoring changes in laws and regulations and summarizing those changes in plain language for the non-attorney professionals in the company's various business units. It turned out to be a fascinating job and I got it thanks to the liberal arts components of my education. So, I'm a strong advocate of liberal arts studies and would encourage students who don't want to specialize in something particular to forge ahead with their liberal arts educations.

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