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Being a student in the College of Arts and Sciences can become stressful when junior and senior year roll around and the job hunt is on. Despite the fact that engineers are set for some of the most dependable jobs, and Whartonites are set for some of the most lucrative, it is easy to get swept away by Penn’s inherent pre-professional drive. To ease the College student’s job-worried mind, one must recognize that there are benefits to a well-rounded liberal arts education and that a master’s of business administration can provide even better opportunities than an undergraduate business degree can.

There is a reason why graduation is called commencement. For a College student, the last four years have been the beginning of an education which will be pursued through various means post graduation.

Yes, Wharton students and Engineering students may have more job-opportunity postings catered to their interests than students pursuing liberal arts degrees, but this is not to say that they aren’t available for liberal arts students. Yes, a Wharton student is usually more likely to be recruited for an investment banking job than a College student. But this makes sense: Wharton students have the education and are more qualified for the job as a result. This means that right after graduation, Wharton students can start working in business. And, according to Career Services’ preliminary statistics for the Class of 2010, roughly 83 percent have done just that — at an average starting salary of almost $64,000 a year.

For students who come to college knowing what they want to do, I think it’s fantastic that they can pursue an undergraduate business degree. Upon graduation, there is an immediate financial and intellectual reward in the business world. However, Wharton students paid quite an opportunity cost to achieve this. The pursuance of an undergraduate business degree usually means that a well-rounded liberal arts degree is forgone.

Fortunately for the College student, a liberal arts degree does not mean that a business degree, and the subsequent financial bonuses, is forgone. An MBA is one of the most valuable degrees a postgraduate can obtain. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the Wharton MBA statistics for the Class of 2009, found on its website. Despite predictions that the recession would cause the Class of 2009 to have the hardest time getting high-paying jobs, the Wharton MBA Class of 2009 nonetheless boasted six-figure starting salaries. The median salary for a Wharton MBA graduate right after receiving the degree was $110,000, while some graduates posted as high as $420,000 in their first year. Some of these people had previous experience working in business. But still — My. God.

The common misconception about MBA programs is that they are designed for and partial to the acceptance of those who have undergraduate business degrees. At the Wharton MBA website, go to Student Profiles and drag your cursor over the profiles of the current and post-graduate students. You’ll notice that a plurality of students hold liberal arts degrees in various areas such as theater, psychology or political science. And, according to the Wharton MBA admissions office, the Class of 2009’s undergraduate education is broken down into 44 percent holding a liberal arts degree, 25 percent engineering, 24 percent business, and 5 percent with other education.

The moral of this story is that if you are a student in the College interested in business, don’t let Wharton’s competitive atmosphere make you nervous about your own post-graduation goals. Each degree has trade-offs depending on what is most important to you and your career. Many liberal arts concentrations necessitate a master’s degree, but this is not something to be afraid of. Rather, getting an MBA may turn out to be more productive financially and intellectually than an undergraduate business degree.

Alex Lustick is a College junior from Narberth, Pa. His e-mail address is Lu-stick To The Point appears on alternate Fridays.

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