The case for liberal arts schools

Liberal Arts

I recently wrote an article featured on College Thrive about the benefits of a liberal arts education for prospective employers.  In this article I talked about how liberal arts coursework will help you hone the broader (but vital) skills of communication, writing, and research.  Despite this, many high school students do not consider liberal arts schools, because they lack the flashy name of more well-recognized institutions.

But by discounting the value of liberal arts colleges, students are missing a great opportunity for a truly special academic experience.

Sure, a school like Amherst or Swarthmore will not carry the same “name” recognition as a school like Harvard or Princeton, but your education and opportunities will be no less. Plus, the people that do matter (such as future bosses and recruiters) will absolutely be familiar with all of the top liberal arts schools.

The two biggest benefits of attending a liberal arts college are:

  1. You will be able to develop new interests and explore different options
  2. The admissions standards are often more holistic than at national universities

One of the best things about liberal arts colleges is that students do not typically pick a major until their sophomore year.  This is particularly helpful for students who do not know what they want to major in yet. Most students go into college as undecided majors and that is fine.  Actually, it is more than fine–you are better off trying out some new things before making a decision.  Choosing a major is often on of the most stressful parts of freshman year, but by delaying this choice, you can focus on developing your interests.  This can include getting involved with different extracurricular activities or assisting a professor with research.  Most importantly, you will be developing broader skills such as research, writing, and speaking skills that can translate into any profession.

Additionally, many liberal arts colleges have a more holistic admissions process than their national university counterparts.  Some students have holes in their application such as low test scores that makes admission to an elite college difficult.  However, if you remember our list of top 10 SAT-optional schools, they were all liberal arts colleges. Because these schools are dealing with smaller numbers of applicants, they can give each application individual attention.  This means that liberal arts schools will be looking more critically at your essays, interviews, and recommendations and will translate to an opportunity for high school students.

The bottom line is to not discount liberal arts colleges just because they lack the name recognition of other universities.  You need to be concerned with getting the best possible education possible.

Photograph by Marilyn Peddle.
This entry was posted in Admissions, Search and Selection, Written by Will and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The case for liberal arts schools

  1. Benjamin says:

    Why do you consider Wake Forest to be a liberal arts school? What makes them more like Swarthmore and Williams as opposed to national universities such as Dartmouth and Duke?

  2. The undergraduate experience at Wake Forest is built around the divisional classes and a liberal arts curriculum. However, technically it is a hybrid school (like Dartmouth) in that it is an undergraduate focused research institution. Meanwhile, Duke would be on the other side of the spectrum with other major research universities.

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