A thread on small liberal arts colleges vs. universities, which expanded into a tangentially related discussion of liberal arts majors vs. business/ engineering/ other majors directly related to a career choice, was recently closed. I thought the discussion was still interesting, so I am starting this thread to allow the discussion to continue.
Some people expressed concerns that EITHER attending a small school like Williams or Vassar (with any major available from physics to art history), OR majoring in a pure science, social science or humanities field at any sized University or college, might lead to debt and poverty.
Everyone I know personally who pursued either route has an upper middle class or upper class salary and is very happy with the way their life turned out in terms of career satisfaction, finances, etc. They are college professors, medical doctors (pediatrician, ophthalmologic surgeon), lawyers, judges, veterinarians, scientific researchers, political scientists, psychologists, social workers, public school teachers, computer scientists, journalists, insurance executives, bankers, consultants, graphic artist for a book publishing company, research librarian for a major bank, etc. Most went on to get graduate degrees after their BA; some did not.
The other thing all these people have in common is that they enjoy thinking and learning for their own sake, not just as a means to an end. They are interested in the world of ideas.
Some chose careers that make a great deal of money and also provide job satisfaction, while others made deliberate choices to earn less but do what they love.
I suppose there could be anecdotal evidence of people with unhappy outcomes as well, so the point is not that one set of college choices will lead to financial success and one to lack thereof, just that there are many possible "correct" choices for each individual, not just one. Ultimately, all choices are individual, and any one person's happiness will depend on his/her own choices and way of viewing his/her life.
The world is interesting because not everyone is the same. Someone who wants to attend a specialized school or major in a "pre"-something field should certainly do so. (If they want, they can also take some courses on Plato or Shakespeare along the way!) But no one should fear a liberal arts college or a major in something less directly career-related, if that is what attracts him/her (student) or his/her child (parent).