Recent debates about whether or not to offer free college tuition for students have raised some important questions. What kind of education do liberal arts colleges provide? And what is the value of an education in the liberal arts anyway?
Many people associate the term “liberal arts” with big words that sound fancy. But you don’t need to take many classes called “Liberal Arts” to get a solid understanding of how valuable an education in the humanities, social sciences, and natural science can be.
You only need to look at recent graduates of elite universities like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to see this. In fact, one of the most popular stories online about young alumni goes something like, “What’s up poonts?” (That was our favorite way to pronounce their last name).
In these schools, students are taught from a wide variety of disciplines, including the humanities, business, art, and architecture. These areas all contribute to making smart decisions and defining who you will become as a person.
This isn’t just theory because research has shown that non-technical skills such as communication, leadership, and critical thinking help you succeed in the workplace and in life. It also makes you happier!
It is estimated that every dollar invested in higher education produces almost $9 back in GDP, which means it contributes to the economy substantially. This number gets even more impressive when you consider that not too long ago, investing in higher education was very expensive.
Reasons students choose a liberal arts college
One of the biggest reasons why people attend a liberal arts school is because they believe that this education gives them more than just an in-depth knowledge base of different subjects, but it also teaches them how to apply these subjects outside the classroom.
Liberal arts schools focus less on teaching individual courses and instead teach you how to be a well-rounded human being who can interact with other people, use your reasoning skills, and understand history and philosophy.
These types of colleges promote an environment where socializing is important, giving students the opportunity to meet new people while learning about various cultures. They may even give out academic scholarships or prizes for showing leadership potential or community service.
General studies classes are often taught from a philosophical perspective which means they ask questions like “What makes someone successful?” and “How do we define success as a person?” This helps develop thinking strategies and self-examination abilities.
When it comes down to it, attending a liberal arts college is a powerful way to learn what every student needs in life: how to relate to others, think critically about the world, and achieve their goals.
Advantages of a liberal arts college
One of the biggest reasons to choose a liberal arts school is that it changes what you learn about yourself. Your education at a liberal art school focuses not only on studying subjects, but also how those subjects relate to each other.
Many students get so focused on getting good grades in their major that they forget taking general courses is important. Taking lots of easy classes can make you feel like you’re wasting your time because you aren’t spending enough time in your field.
But learning about different fields makes you more aware of how interconnected all areas are. Learning about history, literature, and philosophy teaches you about concepts such as causality, reason, and ethics.
These lessons help you be better informed decision-makers and understand the influence of ideas and beliefs on others.
Disadvantages of a liberal arts college
The biggest disadvantage of a liberal arts education is that it can be hard to find jobs that offer only liberal arts degrees. Almost every profession requires some sort of certification or degree, so most employers won’t accept an undergraduate art major as their own professional qualification.
Most graduate students don’t have much experience working outside the academic environment, making them unprepared for the real world. This can be especially true in more career oriented specializations like business or medicine where many positions require at least two years of work experience.
Ways to pay for a liberal arts college
Even though most liberal arts colleges are expensive, there are ways to finance your education without using too much debt. Many students find that attending a well-rounded school with lots of opportunities is worth the cost. Others realize that tuition does not include all of the other expenses involved in educating you. These can be quite substantial, especially if you’re eating food or going to classes outside of campus.
Many universities offer student loans that have lower interest rates than what banks give out directly. It is important to do your research before taking out a loan so that you know which ones are trustworthy. Some require more documentation than others, but they’re all vetted by officials at least twice a year.
A great way to minimize the amount of money you spend while in school is to live off-campus. This will save you on transportation costs as well as any dorm fees. Finding an apartment close to the university is a good start when looking for housing.
Another option is to work while in school. Most schools allow part time employment, even during times of winter break or summer vacation. The hours can be flexible and you can make enough to afford basic needs while still spending money on education.
Select a liberal arts college
Choosing a liberal arts school is not like picking between public or private schools, even though some people make it seem that way. A liberal arts education can be learned anywhere with any budget! Most liberal arts colleges do not require a lot of money to attend.
Most students at a liberal arts college are focused on developing their educational skills rather than studying a field they want to work in. These classes teach you how to use reasoning to solve problems, study concepts systematically, and apply what you learn into other areas.
These qualities help prepare you for anything — professional career paths, international studies, advanced science courses, etc. They also give you the tools to keep learning throughout your life.
A liberal arts degree does not necessarily focus on a specific profession or area of study. Some examples include bachelor’s degrees in English, history, anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology, art, music, theater, and communications. All of these areas relate to each other and teaching others about them is an important part of receiving this type of education.
Liberal arts colleges have different levels of prestige so it is important to look up tuition fees for each one before choosing. Make sure to compare everything including opportunities for scholarships and student loans.
Consider the location
One of the biggest reasons why people choose a liberal arts college is because of their beautiful campus. You will not find many business schools with large student bodies, but you WILL find lots of beauty at these campuses.
Business students can learn quite a bit from viewing the world through the lens that an art or literature degree provides. Many have mentioned how being exposed to different cultures helps you understand other countries’ perspectives, which is important in understanding our ever-changing global community.
Liberal arts colleges devote significant time and resources into creating a nurturing environment for students. These types of universities want you to do well in the classroom, but they also want you to grow as a person. They promote self-confidence, teamwork, creativity, and academic excellence.
These are all qualities that go beyond just educating individuals – they develop them! And once you have learned this about someone, it sets you up for success in your future life.
Consider the school reputation
Beyond offering great education, liberal arts colleges also promote an educational culture that encourages exploration, discussion, and interaction with others.
Liberal arts schools tend to have strong student-to-staff ratios. This allows for more one-on-one time between professors and students. Students are also given the opportunity to ask questions about any topic and get meaningful responses from professionals in their field.
These environments strengthen socialization skills and aid in career development by promoting communication and teamwork. In fact, over 70 percent of employers look into a candidate’s degree program before hiring them!
Furthermore, many graduate programs at larger universities require only a bachelor’s degree to enter. Some even offer tuition reimbursement or scholarships so you can focus completely on studying without having to worry about money.
Pick your major
One of the things that sets liberal arts colleges apart from other universities is their major selection process. Most schools offer at least one degree-program option in every field, but some are more selective than others in what they include.
A common argument against this system is that students will not get as much education because there are not enough degrees to choose from. This argument misses the point though.
The reason most college majors have so many options is not due to a lack of educational material, it’s because each student brings something unique to the table when they enter the school.
Each student has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, which play a big part in choosing an area of study. A student who is good at science may focus on that instead of social studies, and vice versa.
Also, different fields require different levels of expertise, and students should feel free to pursue areas that are beyond them if they want to remain engaged with the subject.