What are liberal arts colleges?
Let’s start this one with an analogy. You’ll soon understand why.
Say you’re thinking of having coffee, and you have two options in front of you – one is a famous multinational brand, and the other is a local brew. You take a sip of both varieties side by side and quickly realize that the lesser-known local brand is much better. Now, what would you do? Would you ignore the impact, reach, and trust-value of the branded coffee and choose the local brew over it, or would you do what most people would do?
Before you get confused about the context of that analogy here, let us simplify things.
Going with the popular opinion is what most of us do in our everyday lives. We easily get swayed by marketing tactics and brand images, and thus, instead of choosing a smaller player who might actually be offering more value to us, we go with the flow and pick what everybody else is picking. Believe it or not, that happens with students when selecting which college to attend too.
This is the reason why Liberal Arts colleges are a mystery to most students. For them, the choice of college is often made by parents and society, both of which give more weight to science, technology, and engineering fields over the arts for a better future. But what the world probably needs to realize is that for many students, liberal art colleges can actually offer academic advantages and an extracurricular edge, unlike a better known regular college.
Liberal arts can indeed be an enticing field for many students. In fact, this field was once considered the heart and soul of education! So if you have an inclination towards the finer things in life, you should at least give a thought to picking such a college for your higher studies.
What are Liberal Arts Colleges (LACs)?
LACs work on a concept that’s different from other schools. They foster a personal interaction between students and teachers, and thus, they’re highly dependent on student participation.
Students who are seeking an intimate learning environment revolving around professor-student mentorship and collaboration will find liberal art colleges to be an ideal fit. These colleges are relatively small due to fewer enrollments, but with full-time abundant teaching staff, they’re more likely to pay better attention to your individual learning needs. Usually, such institutions are more focused on your thinking ability and creative problem-solving approach.
How can a LAC benefit you?
The literal meaning of the word “liberal” is broadening a person’s knowledge and experience. Working on the same principle, LACs expose students to a wide range of subjects that encourage them to focus on one thing at a time and then contribute to a solution. They offer students a world-class education with practical experience. Some of the key benefits of LACs include:
- Integrative approach to learning. LACs are not limited to a specific set of knowledge or a particular domain. Liberal education integrates different areas of study and offers a wide range of subjects. From arts to business majors, you can experience it all here. Such colleges will prepare you to work in various sectors, enabling you to make an informed decision when choosing a career path. And it’s no secret that multiple perspectives will always help you regardless of the field you’re in.
- Undergraduate focused studies. Most LACs have their own graduate programs or have strategic relationships with other universities that offer the same. They’re designed to provide undergraduates better opportunities for research and internships, especially to the pre-med students who require a research lab.
- Smaller class size. Prominent universities usually have bigger class sizes; for example, Harvard can accommodate 6,700 students and Williams 2,000. But LACs are relatively smaller as compared to these major public universities. Unlike large amphitheater-like introductory classes, they offer small, intimate, and personalized courses. They have the most preferable learning style with class discussions and the opportunity to have a close relationship with your classmates and professors. They allow for an authentic learning experience and enhanced student engagement through questions.
- Strong alumni. The alumni of such colleges are very active and are involved in their strong relationship with the college. They support as mentors or donors not just to their own school but to other LACs too. This support usually leads to more opportunities for students with engagements like tuition assistance programs from the alumni.
- Post-graduation jobs. LACs have an excellent placement record each year as the students that graduate from them are armed with skills like communications, critical thinking, and multiple perspectives. The acceptance rate of LACs students in medical, law, MBA, and Ph.D. programs is relatively high. Influential alumni, better internship opportunities, supportive professors, and a robust support system from college contribute to this success.
- Social responsibility. LAC students always believe in giving back to the community. They spend considerable time volunteering as compared to other public universities. They look for opportunities in community engagement with service trips during breaks.
Careers after studying at an LAC
LACs are more focused on learning than on choosing a career at the beginning of the degree. They open up more opportunities in different industry sectors for the students. Some of the best sought after job perspectives after a liberal arts course are:
- Academia. The interdisciplinary knowledge gained by students in LACs provides them with a better perspective to research and explore more. Liberal arts students make great teachers in the future.
- Arts. Often, liberal art students are driven by creativity and lead in professions like photography, commercial arts, painting, and interior designing, to name a few.
- Interpreter. LAC courses include at least one foreign language. So once you have your degree, you can pursue a career as a qualified translator, transcriber, or interpreter or become a language teacher, journalist, etc.
- Marketing. Humanities subject taught by the LACs will help you to understand people’s perspectives better. Coupled with good communication, you can choose advertising, promotions, public relations, copywriting, or news editing.
- Political science. This includes public policy, politics, business, and even working for NGOs and charity.
If you ask an employer what they look for in their employees, the list will often include a collaborative outlook, the ability to view things from multiple perspectives, and adaptability to changing demands. These skills are often overlooked in large reputed colleges where you seldom get the chance to interact and contribute. If you’re considering an education that helps you gain a similar skill set, you should learn more about Liberal Arts Colleges. The knowledge you get there will not only help you in securing your first job out of college but also help you in making important life decisions.