Lehigh perpetuates the mindset of constantly yearning to be one step ahead.
As an institution, we aim to be a step ahead of competing colleges through our programs, facilities and technology.
As students, we strive to be one step ahead in learning from the best and brightest and preparing for our future endeavors.
As future employees, we yearn to be one step ahead of one another, competing with fellow students for a limited number of spots in the glamorous world of perceived success.
Upon the common goal of trying to get ahead, a group of students are consistently a step behind.
Every semester, business students and engineers alike fill career fairs to the brim, easily getting lost in a sea of frantic students waving their resumes in the air, praying to stand out among the hundreds that surround them.
Simultaneously, a group of College of Arts and Sciences students watch in defeat as the “all majors inclusive career fair” continues to fail to meet its aforementioned promise.
Consistently, Lehigh boasts student employment at companies such as “The Big Four” consulting firms, or global technology companies, such as IBM and GE.
As networking days for the business school pile up, the number of arts-based tables at career fairs and events are consistently scarce.
There is an evident disparity between the abundance and value of opportunities provided to CAS students as opposed to business and engineering students.
These disparities are especially evident in the job placement statistics following graduation. Within the six months following graduation, CBE students show an 85 percent job placement and engineering students, 73 percent, while CAS students see only 48 percent placement.
Oftentimes, CAS students seek graduate school as the immediate next step, but there is a proven correlation between the lack of opportunities presented and the lack of jobs filled upon leaving Lehigh.
The issue at hand is not the fault of Lehigh alone. It is the independent nature of professional atmospheres in both business and science fields to groom their future employees throughout the entire college experience. It is a different issue entirely when Lehigh fails to provide a third of its student body with the same opportunities as it does the other two.
College of Arts and Sciences students have continuously proven to be the least lucrative upon graduation. While it is typical of jobs in creative and research fields to pay less, this also relates to the lack of opportunities that are presented to students throughout their time at Lehigh.
The peak time of year for business and research-focused jobs tends to be in the fall, where there are concentrated networking opportunities, career fairs and more. Yet, in the spring, which tends to be the most popular time for arts-centered jobs, the on-campus opportunities are drastically decreased.
As CAS majors scramble last-minute for the opportunity for an interview, searching for internships to fill breaks and summers becomes more of a gamble than a calculated thought process to best fit career goals.
On average, starting salaries for CAS students leaving Lehigh are anticipated to be a minimum of $20,000 less than graduates from the other two schools. In order to get a foot in the door to more lucrative, long-term opportunities, CAS students arguably prove an even greater need to develop a portfolio of experiences to make themselves more desirable to the job market.
Lehigh’s environment aims to groom its students for the real world, ensuring equal opportunities for all of its students, but CAS students are often forced to question if these opportunities are distributed equally, and in turn if Lehigh has the same desires of success for its liberal arts students as it does its students on the path for more traditional monetary success.
As the Lehigh community continuously strives to get ahead, we must also acknowledge that this goal applies to all students. Until we allocate resources equally and ensure the desire to see all students see success upon leaving Lehigh, a portion of our students will continue to be left a step behind.