Edit desk: Hello from the College of Arts and Sciences

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Chloe Carroll

“Oh you’re in the College of Arts and Crafts? You must have so much free time.”

I’ve been told that time and time again. Just because I don’t have to stay up until absurd hours in the morning studying doesn’t mean my classes aren’t challenging. I don’t usually have tests, and when I do, they’re in-class essays. Instead, I write a lot of papers and read endlessly. One of the most difficult aspects of being a CAS student is that there is no right answer to my essays and in class, we share opinions and observations.

Coming into my junior year, I was excited about starting to narrow in on my future career. I decided I was going to go to the career fair, which is heavily advertised by the university.

I opened the list of companies that would be in attendance and as I scrolled through, I realized the career fair was not meant for me. With the exception of two, the companies listed were engineering, accounting and finance firms. I was bummed.

Did Lehigh just forget about approximately 30 percent of its students? I thought maybe there would be another career fair for the College of Arts and Sciences, but sadly there isn’t.

The university requires all business students to take BUS 005, a class on resumes, networking and more. The engineering school has a similar requirement called ENGR 005.  Even some science majors in the College of Arts and Sciences have a required course like this.

Meanwhile, non-STEM and non-business majors are left to fend for themselves, facing the great unknown of our futures without Lehigh connections placed in our laps.

Every summer, groups of students in the business school embark on journeys across the sea to Shanghai and Prague, participating in internships designed specifically for their areas of study. Lehigh’s new center in Silicon Valley is, once again, advertised and geared toward the business school.

One positive aspect of my experience, though, is that I have had to put in the extra effort of applying to countless companies through LinkedIn, even learning how to make myself a profile.

But I still feel left out — the FOMO is real. I would like the university to see that I am just as employable as the students in the other colleges on campus.

I came to Lehigh to learn things about the world and myself that I would never know otherwise. I’m not here to pull all-nighters studying for a test that won’t matter in five years and have anxiety attacks over the amount of homework I have. Sure, sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the rigor of my classes, but I always make sure I take the time to unwind.

The business and engineering colleges focus on assessment through test scores, though many students may not receive a passing grade. They study for days or even weeks, but the tests are not designed for them to do well. A lot of classes end up being curved just so students will pass.

I think this is completely illogical. If college is based around learning and grasping new material, shouldn’t professors take the time to ensure their students understand the concepts they are teaching, rather than simply memorizing them for a test?

I have a lot of respect for those who choose the engineering path and I’m sure none of them would want my schoolwork, just as I would not want theirs.

My goal is to graduate from Lehigh as a well-rounded individual who can take on almost any job. I hope the university can start to give credit and attention to all the unsung staff, faculty and students who make up the College of Arts and Sciences because we haven’t been the Lehigh Engineers for a long time.

Chloe Carroll, ’20, is an associate lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]

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9 Comments

  1. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    For those who are older than “?”, what is FOMO.

    The Business School may have just as much free time as the College of Arts and Sciences. One of my roommates had classes three days a week vs. my six. I had three more credit hours with twenty-eight class hours vs. fifteen for him. The world needs well rounded individuals but companies seem to desire people with specific skills. Develop a skill in demand and a recruiter will want you. Be creative.

    Be nice to Engineers or Uncle Asa will be sad.

    • FOMO = fear of missing out. She feels that because of the major she picked and the fact that most companies want to hire people with STEM and Business skills, she feels left out.

      I’m sure she has plenty of skills, but if you don’t pick a major that has some kind of translation into a job, don’t expect to have people offering you internships on a golden platter. Heck, stem and business majors don’t get internships easily.

      There is a clear path for business majors, STEM majors, but not for lib art majors. What exactly does an English major do besides teach English or write as a journalist?

      If you can take on almost any job, I have to believe you aren’t highly skilled in any specific field – why would anyone want to hire someone who can kind of partially do a lot of things when they can hire people who can do a few things very well and specifically?

      Maybe don’t listen to the people who tell you it’s only four years and go have fun and study whatever you love.

      Not to be a jerk, but this isn’t the university’s fault, it isn’t the companies’ fault, the only person left is you.

      • It’s a mistake to reduce the value of one’s education to a narrowly defined career path. Most people have many different careers over the course of their life. The value of the liberal arts is their rigor in teaching how to think and how to write. These are extremely transferable skills. A friend of mine who is a college career counselor thinks that philosophy majors, for instance, are quite desirable for law schools and other professions which value an extremely rigorous curriculum in logic, among other things.

        • Companies that hire on campus want students that are battle tested in tough academic disciplines. The arts &craft majors are more candidates for graduate schools then the business world.

          Lehigh made a huge mistake costing it dearly in reputation when it tried to be an ivy lite school & losing its Lehigh Engineers brand identity. Lehigh is not really a liberal arts school despite its generic high school mascot. Rankings have paid the price in USNews as Lehigh has dropped nearly 20 spots since that decision.

          • Embarrassed to Be Associated on

            I was about to write the exact same comment. The school really messed up. I even took it off one of version of my resume and just left my MS from a top state system that has been consistently well-regarded.

  2. A&S is not an end to itself.

    Even STEM and Business is not an end to itself – from an education standpoint.

    Examples. Many A&S go on to grad school. Could be a professional school (Law, Med, Business, Seminary) or deeper in A&S. If deeper in A&S that would mean a Masters or PhD. If you terminate at A&S and go into the work place you need something else because being a ready vessel is not enough.

    What do people do? Join the military – still need to go through OCS and get more career training. Become a teacher – still need training and teacher certification. Or become a low level service employee.

    Of course Business school students will need to continue to achieve designations or higher level education like CFA / MBA /MSF as will engineering graduates. But these graduates can create valuable bill paying work product day one.

    If anyone counsels students that A&S is an end unto itself for being career ready then that person is providing a big dis-service to that student. Knowing that further education is almost a requirement, unless you want to be in the WalMart or Enterprise Rental Car trainee program, I am frankly surprised that there are so many A&S students in mid tier or lower private schools – the math just does not add up from a cost perspective and there are few exciting job possibilities (different at amherst and williams). Why go to an expensive A&S program when you could be at a state program and then have more money for grad school or beyond?

    If what I am saying is a surprise then someone is not research or being realistic.

    • Embarrassed to Be Associated on

      I would like to add that as a Lehigh alum with a BA, I found myself needing to get an MS to get any sort of meaningful work. If you don’t mind a career working as a secretary or customer service rep or PR girl or lab tech, then don’t go to grad school or get any other credentials after your A&S degree. After a while, I got sick of people assuming I was incompetent, poor, and/or uneducated from my job title, even though none of those things ever have been or will be true.

  3. Chloe, last night I got an email from the guy who runs the medical cyclotron facility here — he’s got lovely STEM degrees and came here from running an outfit at Stanford. I think he’s also got a biz degree. I worked with him recently on an NIH grant where he was the junior partner and I was helping the main guy steer the narrative into port, figure out some experimental strategies and how to pitch the thing. (All to do with cancer-drug research; if the thing we’re pitching works, and you get cancer, maybe you get your chemo without risking kidney damage or going deaf.) The cyclotron guy did the usual STEM-guy thing where he likes my work and checks out my linkedin to see what I am, and then he rubs his eyes because I don’t have any STEM degrees, and he circles around the linkedin a couple times, trying to figure out why I’m able to do what I do. I can do what I do because I know how to read and think and write, which is most of what you learn to do in the liberal arts. Science isn’t all that special; it’s just a peculiarly-disciplined mode of thinking and questioning for specific purposes, and engineering is its scale-up technical cousin attached to practical uses on the other side. Also not all that special. They have their own rather precise and artificial languages, but they’re not difficult to learn when you’re used to learning languages. I work with engineers, too, and I have my own NSF grant. My advanced degree is a master of fine arts.

    I got an email from the guy because he wanted to introduce a PhD candidate who thinks she might be done with actual benchwork and prefers the communications side, wanted to see if I’d talk with her about a career in scientific communication. My career here is accidental, and it’s not the only work I do. Again, that’s a major benefit of a liberal arts background: it’s not narrow, and you can turn around and pick up pretty much whatever you want afterwards. But I’ll do what I can to help her.

    I get about two or three of these requests a month from scientists, engineers, and STEM grad students. Undergrads once in a while. What they find out is that communications work is hard, and that perhaps it’s especially difficult for people who feel most comfortable with a well-defined career path, because you have to make up so much of it yourself: there’s very little that’s narrow or rigid about it. You have to be good at several things at once, and you have to be able to get along with lots of different kinds of people at the same time. What they’ll find in the end is that any serious work is difficult; it’s a matter of finding the kind that best suits your interests and temperament.

    You’re hearing a lot of macho-derived disrespect from engineers up there, but I will tell you that if there’s one thing I’ve had all along in my field, it’s respect from scientists and engineers. Including editors at the top science journals, all PhD scientists themselves. Because they know the communication end, the writing and the rest, is painfully difficult and that most of them aren’t much good at it. They also know it’s necessary. That’s why I’ve almost never been unemployed and why I have enormous flexibility in how and when and where I do my work. I have all the usual middle-class things: house, college savings for the kid, retirement, travel, etc. And I’m not particularly demanding, salarywise. If I didn’t work at a public university, I’d make 1.5-2x what I make now.

    tl;dr – you’re fine. Do your thing. It’s unlikely you’ll starve, whatever it is.

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