Benefits of Liberal Arts Colleges
What Is a Liberal Arts College? Why would we want to consider one of these schools? Liberal arts colleges tend to focus exclusively on undergraduate education: the sequence of classes required for a student to earn a four-year degree. This means that campus programs and funding are focused on undergraduate education. Faculty at liberal arts colleges can devote more time to teaching undergraduates and assisting them with research opportunities. Most liberal arts colleges have 2,000 or fewer students. Classes are traditionally small, many with fewer than 20 students. The low student-to-faculty ratio allows students to work closely with their professors. Most students at liberal arts colleges report that their professors know them by name and are interested in their success. This close collaboration and personal interaction wouldn’t be possible at a large university with tens of thousands of students. A liberal arts curriculum allows students to develop their intellectual abilities, rather than study for a single professional or vocational program. These schools operate on the belief that if students are taught critical thinking and communications skills, they will be able to apply them to any field of study or profession. Most liberal arts colleges in the U.S. offer traditional majors, but some schools offer only a liberal arts degree. Liberal arts colleges seek to connect classroom learning and campus experiences to real world applications. Part of this process lies in the collaborative nature of the education at these colleges. Most liberal arts colleges are residential, most students live on campus making it easy to work on group projects or continue a discussion once class ends. The name “liberal arts college” results in some common misconceptions. They are not art colleges, although some students may study visual or performing arts. These colleges are not community colleges and they are not inferior to universities. In fact, many top-rated liberal arts colleges are more competitive than most universities when it comes to admissions. Finally, “liberal arts” does not mean a school and/or its students are liberal in their approach to education or political beliefs. Because liberal arts colleges teach their students to think and communicate in a wide range of fields, their graduates have a high rate of admission to graduate and professional schools. Liberal arts colleges offer a great opportunity for students interested in smaller classes, close interaction with professors, and exposure to a broad range of subjects, including classes in the humanities and sciences. I have a liberal arts education and have found that it serves me well. Personally, I’m a big fan of liberal arts colleges. I find these schools offer a number of advantages and are known for taking good students and making them great. Here are some of the strengths I see in liberal arts colleges:
- Personalized learning and the opportunity for all students to connect with professors and learn. This is great for someone who learns better in smaller classes or the student who may be hesitant to speak up in a large class environment.
- Students don’t fall though the cracks. It is difficult to impossible to fall through the cracks at a small liberal arts college. Professors call students who miss class and take steps to help struggling students before they fail.
- Great opportunities to stand out. It can be difficult to stand out at a huge university and some students feel intimidated in large settings. Smaller schools make it easier for some students to take leadership roles or shine in their area of talent.
- Academics involve strong communication skills. I’ve seen students graduate from state universities having only taken multiple-choice tests. That won’t happen at a liberal arts college where students are pushed to develop writing, speaking, and thinking skills.