To understand the value of an Occidental liberal arts education, look no farther than Forbes’ latest analysis of top colleges that produce high-earning grads.
Using Payscale.com data for graduates of the schools in its 2016 Top 100 Colleges list, Forbes found that Occidental graduates saw the highest increase in pay from early to mid-career earnings of any other top 100 school – a jump of 142%.
"A liberal arts education is preparing students to be leaders when they graduate," Assistant Director for Employer Relations Courtney Stricklin told Forbes. "Maybe they’re entering at an entry-level position, like anyone else, but because of their other interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills, they’re rising into leadership roles."
The compensation of mid-career Oxy graduates explodes what Forbes calls "the myth of the disenfranchised liberal arts graduate" – a myth based on data that shows that graduates of research universities significantly out-earn liberal arts graduates during their first five years in the workforce.
To drive that point home, Forbes compared Occidental with Georgia Tech. Though students from Georgia Tech and Occidental both earn $112,000 with more than 10 years of experience, Occidental graduates’ early pay of $46,200 falls short of Georgia Tech graduates’ pay of $62,500, Forbes notes.
In a related column titled "That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket," Forbes columnist George Anders reports that interviews with tech company executives reveal that "software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger … The more that audacious coders dream of changing the world, the more they need to fill their companies with social alchemists who can connect with customers – and make progress seem pleasant."
College majors among the software company employees Anders talked to included English literature, sociology, communications, and – in defiance of the worst of stereotypes – philosophy.