Where would the world be without Apple visionary Steve Jobs? His creativity and innovation can be found in the very device you’re using to read this article.
Steve Jobs was the first to see the creative and commercial potential of the personal computer, the computer mouse, picture icons instead of text, and other “data visualization” techniques—before streamlining computer technology down into the Apple products we know today.
And he did it all with a foundation in liberal arts and the humanities. Read on for three ways Steve Jobs’ liberal arts education helped him develop a great mind that changed the world as we know it.
1. Liberal Arts Programs Taught Him to Think Outside the Box
His name appears as the author of 346 patented inventions in the U.S. registry, but Jobs was never considered to be a designer or engineer by trade. Instead, Jobs was often described as a “tweaker:” a great mind who tweaked and reimagined existing inventions in order to make them better.
He said his inner dialogue when approaching a product was: “Let’s redesign it all. Let’s redesign, reimagine, and rebuild every single app from the ground up.” This ability to radically transform existing devices and technologies comes from Jobs’ days in liberal arts college, where students learn to think beyond textbooks, and question the status quo by thinking outside the box.
2. He Learned to ‘Follow His Heart’ in Liberal Arts Courses
Liberal arts college courses help students develop critical thinking and communication skills that prepare students for success in virtually any job field. If you’re not sure what your future holds, exploring the range of topics at a liberal arts college can set you up for success in a variety of careers.
“You've got to find what you love,” said Jobs. “You’ve got to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”
Steve Jobs enrolled in the Reed Liberal Arts College at age 17. Looking back in 2005, Jobs remembered: “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.” Throughout his time at Reed, he found himself dropping in on as many classes as he could—even classes that didn’t earn him any college credit.
“I loved it,” he said. “And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.”
The first Macintosh computer (made by Jobs in 1984) had revolutionary font options.
For example, before Jobs, all text on computers was only displayed as one, single, standard font. But Jobs had dropped in on calligraphy classes while at Reed, and learned how creative typefaces can be.
When designing the first Mac computer: “It all came back to me,” said Jobs. “If I had never dropped in on that course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts…it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”
3. He Mixed Liberal Arts College Courses and Tech for Career Success
Steve Jobs founded Apple with a group of tech-savvy friends in 1976. They met in his parents’ garage and melded their diverse skills and talents into a multi-billion dollar company.
Even without his own training in math or science, Steve Jobs’ experience in liberal arts programs carried him to the top his field. He said it was the combination of liberal arts and technology that made his company stand out from its Silicon Valley competition.
Jobs’ image is famous worldwide, representing technological innovation and creativity.
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” he said. “It’s technology married with liberal arts - married with the humanities - that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”
Today, many Silicon Valley leaders have degrees in liberal arts and the humanities, and are hiring more and more grads with liberal arts backgrounds. If you want to follow your heart, think outside the box, and find success in the field of your choice, a liberal arts degree is the best place to start.
Are you ready to find your calling at a liberal arts college in Chicago?
Visit Shimer for more information or to speak with an advisor.