From a Liberal Arts Education to a Technical Education: Two Things That Liberal Arts Does Not Teach Us





Most people study abroad to experience a different part of the world, and most study abroad programs support this by creating programs that are curated for travel and exploration.

But this isn’t the case with my study abroad program.

My host-university, Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT), sells itself as a study abroad program that provides rich Computer Science courses that will prepare you for the real world. And that’s it.

There’s no travel incentive. No “go explore the world!” Just a “this will be really good for your technical career.”

However, this selling point is what makes it so rich, and as a student from a private liberal arts college, I think I’m really lucky to have found myself here.

At my home university, Macalester, there is a high moral compass (as with any other liberal arts college). My professors have taught me the importance of being human before my education and focusing on critical thinking rather than getting perfect scores. And while I agree with these values, it is extremely difficult to live by these values while going into Tech.

This is because, traditionally, the world of Tech is built on ace-ing tests, interviews, and even being the next Steve Jobs. So here are 2 things that I have found beneficial from the technical education philosophy:

1) There is a defined line between work and your personal life.

The high moral compass of liberal arts education makes it extremely hard for individuals to remove themselves (meaning their identity, values, morals, and more) from their work. And while it is good to work in something that represents you, the line from one’s personal life and work life become blurred, and individuals can experience fatigue, burnout, and even re-traumatizing themselves.

On the other hand, the technical education at AIT disregards what makes you human and instead prioritizes your knowledge. This sort of requires the dehumanization of oneself (e.g. you become a memorizing machine of vocabulary and definitions), but I think it also allows us to differentiate our personal lives from our work lives.

2) You know exactly what you need to know.

Because the liberal arts education emphasizes multidisciplinary education, students are packed with lots and lots of knowledge and facts, and some of that- they will never need to know. However, a technical education prepares students from start to finish, and whatever is not needed to know- professors will directly tell you.

At AIT, this is exactly what happens and I believe that it has made it easier for me to identify what I need to study and not. Additionally, it has helped me realize what career path I would like to pursue, and what steps I need to take to get there.

These two things have taught me a lot about myself, and as a college junior, I think I’m very lucky to have realized these things when I still have time in my college career. Additionally, learning Computer Science from a technical perspective is a very good break from the liberal arts perspective.