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Summary of “The New Liberal Arts” by Sanford J Ungar

September 13, 2012

In his essay, “The New Liberal Arts” Sanford J. Ungar advocates a liberal arts college education for all despite the current economic hardship that many Americans face. He lists seven common misconceptions about liberal arts education and then proceeds to explain why they are not so. The first misconception that he sets straight is that vocational training is a better alternative to liberal arts in today’s economic times. He says that although focused career training may be a quick fix, students may not always be able to find work in that one specific field, and it is better for them to gain a broad range of knowledge. He then argues that although people may think that college graduates with liberal arts degrees are having a harder time finding good jobs, that is not the case. In reality today’s job market is difficult for all college graduates, regardless of their major. In his third point, Ungar disputes the view that the liberal arts are particularly irrelevant for low-income individuals. He says that they although they may not have the same educational background as their more affluent peers, they catch up fast. They deserve the well-rounded education that the liberal arts has to offer as much as anyone else. His fourth point is that a liberal arts education covers not only art, but sciences and math as well. His fifth point is that a liberal education has nothing to do with the liberal Democrats who govern our country. His sixth point is that America is not the only country that still values the liberal arts, other countries such as china are showing increasing interest.His seventh point is that although costs for attending college are high, liberal arts colleges are not irrelevant. He says the cost to attend a small liberal arts college can be less then the cost of a big public university because of the available need-based financial aid.

      In my eyes this article is as transparent as a piece of scotch tape. In the last section of his essay, Ungar says” The method I happen to advocate for obvious reasons, is the small, residential liberal-arts college, usually independent, where there is close interaction between faculty members and students and , at its best, a sense of of community emerges that prepares young people to develop high standards for themselves and other” in other words, Ungar as a president of a small, residential liberal-arts college, is saying that the best kind of college to go to is the same type in which he is employed. Although the author made some valid points I think this essay overall is just an advertisement for Goucher College in Baltimore. 

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7 Comments
  1. I really liked your take on the essay. I didn’t feel that he was advertising his college, but he did make his view very transparent. Although I am a believer in a liberal arts education, I too was not so convinced through his arguments.

  2. His view was very explicit, but i agree with you that he wasn’t too convincing. If i didn’t already believe in the liberal arts, reading Ungar’s article wouldn’t have swayed my opinion. However it was done in a way where you can easily understand his argument.
    I like the way you wrote the summary, i just don’t think you needed to list every misconception to get your point across. With the way he wrote the article, just one or two examples, and his ending paragraph could have summed up his ideas.

  3. same here. i like your take in essay too. just like you guy said, the authot doesnot advertise college and convince people to take liberal arts in college. He stays in neutral and lists understandable misconception.

  4. This is a thorough summary; you managed to describe each misperception in a very concise manner.

  5. Bryant Aracena permalink

    I understand where you’re coming from saying how it was basically an advertisement for his college, but to tell you the truth I personally think that the essay was more to defend the education. He truthfully believes and is convinced that the people who are enrolled in his school are going to become successful. I personally agree with him, no matter what you major in, finding employment is about connections and luck, some are luckier than others. So thinking for yourself and having that skill to express your personal views on a topic can definitely come really handy when going in for an application

    • Thanks for your comments. I agree with all of you that the essay wasnt an advertisement. I was writing my summary late at night, and was kind of annoyed at the time, so thats what led me to that point of view.

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