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Liberal arts in the age of COVID-19

In the midst of this unsettling time, those of us fortunate enough to have our good health and personal safety intact have had the luxury to dream for what we most wish: A hopeful glimpse at a future filled with the promise of a return to normalcy.

But so many of us are struggling right now with this yet uncertain future. When will our elderly family and neighbors be able to safely join us at the dinner table again? When will our loved ones be able to get back to work? When will schools reopen for in-person education? While we do not have all the answers yet, we do know that this crisis will pass and that we will need to plan for the time ahead.

What will remain true in the times to come is the exceptional value of higher education as an indispensable vehicle to attain professional, personal, and public prosperity. As so many have grappled with the shift to distance learning, it is important to remember the merits of a college education. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, workers with a bachelor’s degree earn 84 percent more over the course of their lifetimes than those with a high school diploma. In addition, economist Richard Easterlin’s study of happiness and econometrics shows education as a positive factor in increasing our well-being. Those with higher education levels are more likely to turn out to vote as well, suggesting a correlation between schooling and civic duty.

The good news of the future is just around the corner, and it is a world in which higher education continues to be available to everyone. It is a world in which college is affordable, flexible, and personal. It is the world of FM, where we embrace those who join our community and help them up to reach the summits of their achievements.

In particular, the General Studies Associate in Arts program, the largest and most popular at FM, provides an opportunity for those who wish to enter college and discover their passions. General Studies is designed to offer variable options to meet transfer goals and can be completed live, fully online, or blended. Students in the General Studies program are rewarded with a college experience in which they are free to choose from numerous liberal arts electives in a variety of academic disciplines, such as social science, natural science, mathematics, art, history, English, and more, as well as professional electives in business, criminal justice, and technology, just to name a few. They are students who enjoy small class sizes, career professors, supportive staff, academic and social services, and an environment not unlike a small private university. They are students who leave FM with little to no debt. They are students who work to develop their proficiency in, among many other areas, communication, critical thinking, and literacy, skills which are vital in times like these, times when we need smart people to lead us to do what is just.

When I made my own journey to college a scant thirty years ago, I did not know what my path would be. I needed some turns in my education for the first year or two to discover the road on which I would diverge. I suspect many feel the same way now and would benefit greatly by joining our General Studies community. Visit FM today at fmcc.edu to learn more about this program and our many others. Learn why our motto is, “Futures made. Here.”

This article was written by Michael Youngs, assistant professor of English at FM.

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