The Facts of Liberal Arts Colleges

“So… what is a liberal arts college?”

This sad question runs through a handful of college-searching kids’ minds in the midst of their higher education pursuit. Good thing the answer is just right around the corner!

Picture a large shoe store. (Bear with me here.)

In this large shoe store, there are tons of shoes that vary in size, color, shape, type, etc.  You roam the aisles exploring all the different shoes, trying on one after another to test how they fit. At one point, among a bunch of other shoes, you spot a pair hidden away on the bottom. This pair is a tad smaller than the rest, yet it still represents the durability and uniqueness needed to stand out in the giant sea of shoes.

That is how I would begin to describe a liberal arts college.

Though not necessarily hidden away, liberal arts colleges tend to be more unseen next to big colleges and universities that surround them.

There is an easy fix to that: a little research goes a long way. Today, there are millions of college search engines that allow for you to modify and refine your hunt for the right college. This is a fabulous way to find a small liberal arts school that can suit all your needs.

So besides the small size, what else do these colleges have to offer?

Liberal arts schools are highly focused on a number of things as a result of their small size. This includes forming a community within and surrounding the campus and broadening students’ perspectives with thinking and writing skills as opposed to just pre-professional skills. The focus even reaches all the way to the faculty members as they emphasize their attention on teaching more than anything.

Still not convinced?

Check out this study from the independent research firm of Hardwick Day and commissioned by the Annapolis Group (a consortium of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges) outlining specific benefits that previous students have received from attending small, liberal arts colleges.

  • Alumni from Annapolis Group liberal arts colleges reported closer interaction with professors, greater involvement in experiential learning and extracurricular activities, and an emphasis on values and ethics that is often absent at public universities.
  • Liberal arts college graduates also reported a greater sense of community with other students, friendships and opportunities for peer interactions not found at the public institutions.
  • Liberal arts college grads are significantly more likely than graduates of other types of colleges to hold a graduate degree and to feel better prepared for life after college.
  • Liberal arts college graduates are more likely than any other group to have graduated in four years or less. They also report higher overall satisfaction with their undergraduate education than graduates of any other type of college or university.
  • Graduates of small, residential liberal arts colleges credit their undergraduate experience for helping them develop a broad range of skills important to their everyday lives (problem solving, making effective decisions, thinking analytically, writing effectively, relating to people of different backgrounds and developing new skills). These broad skills – more than the undergraduate major itself – helped grads get their first job or gain admission to graduate school, and have continued to help with career changes or advancement. Annapolis Group alumni say these skills have remained extremely important in their lives after college.
  • Liberal arts college alumni have strong personal values, and place importance on a range of activities: contributing to the community, participating in organizations that help disadvantaged members of society, promoting racial equality or other social justice issues, using their best skills and abilities, and having the freedom to consider moral and ethical aspects of decisions.
  • Although alumni of Annapolis Group colleges are involved in their communities at about the same rate as alumni of other types of schools, Annapolis Group alumni are more likely than other alumni to remain involved with their schools after graduation

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Jordan Johnson

Jordan Johnson

Jordan Johnson is a junior at North Central College in Naperville, IL pursuing degrees in journalism and interactive media studies. When she is not in the classroom, she balances her time playing for her school’s softball team and working at a local frozen yogurt shop. Jordan enjoys watching movies, thumb wars, and occasional trips into the windy city.
Jordan Johnson

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