Is a Liberal Arts College for You?

Once again it’s the daunting time of year for our seniors: college application season. Most of us have already submitted the anticipated early decision app, and as pending deadlines loom, we naturally become consumed with emotions of stress and anxiety.

We all fear rejections. A rejection from college? Scarier. For students applying to college, we are aware that a rejection from a school is plausible regardless of how strong of a candidate you are. College acceptance does not only require hard work but luck. Depending on who reads your acceptance letter, what type of applicants the colleges are looking for, all affects the way your application is reviewed.

So first of all… to all my senior colleagues: Good luck.

Second, you may be wondering why I brought up the topic of college admissions in an article aimed at focusing on a liberal arts education. As a senior myself, I found a common trend among many senior applicants. Examining some of the most popular majors among students, I found that there was an increase in STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) applicants every year and less applicants heading towards humanities.

I decided to gain some insight into this phenomena by conducting research in the reasons why a liberal arts may be a not great fit for certain students, while on the other hand may be perfect for you.

There are a wide variety of schools to choose from. Most top universities in the United States provide a core education in liberal arts for all their majors. Yet, let me specify why exactly a liberal arts school may be the one for you.

It is a no brainer that a liberals arts college will attract students who are looking to study humanities subjects including literature, history, and philosophy. For students seeking to be writers, philosophers, and other humanities-oriented people, I strongly encourage you to apply to a liberal arts school.

First and foremost, a liberal arts school means higher returns in education. Unlike research universities, a liberal arts school will utilise their resources in aiding students in their undergraduate program.

“Average class sizes at liberal arts colleges are usually less than 30 students. This gives students the opportunity to participate in class and get to know their classmates and professors.”

College Raptor

While studying in a liberal arts school may sound confining, there are broad range of subjects within the schools; thus, this may be interesting to those who are undecided majors. Possibly, a liberal arts school may help you narrow down on a choice of study.

For those of us seeking to improve our reading and writing skills, liberal arts will push you in that direction. If English isn’t you first language like me, a liberal art school provides you with intense English training programs so that any international student can quickly gain adept English skills in writing, reading, and even speaking.

Source by flaticon.com

Due to a liberal art school’s less attention towards heavy research, these schools tend to teach subjects that involves a lot of reading and exploring, instead of grounding down on research and labs which most of the STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) schools offer. Your college may end up paying for a random student in the medical field conducting research. Who knows?

“Four out of five employers also agreed that all students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts.”

Jennifer Hollis, Admissions Counsellor at Rutgers University

One of the biggest feature and advantage of a liberal arts college is its size, with many of these colleges that are relatively the same size as our high school. “Average class sizes at liberal arts colleges are usually less than 30 students. This gives students the opportunity to participate in class and get to know their classmates and professors.” (College Raptor). Unlike big institutions where you may be in a class with hundreds of students, the class size in a liberal arts school is small with usually around 20 people in a class. In this environment, students have more opportunities to connect with their professors. Not only do they receive more attention and time from their professors, they also have a chance to get to know them more personally, to create personal and meaningful bonds with them. This can greatly increase the qualities of future recommendation letters if you are applying for a graduate school and will give you the chance to form closer relationships with your educators.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) did an online survey of employers and found that “93 percent of them agree that candidates’ demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major. Four out of five employers also agreed that all students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts.” (Jennier Hollis)

Source by claphamschool.org

With liberal arts school’s emphasis on an undergraduate education when compared to bigger institutions where undergraduate classes aren’t necessarily taught by professors but inexperienced graduate students, a liberal arts school will place heavy emphasis on providing credible professors for all their classes. The liberal arts schools are committed to serving their undergraduate students with whatever needs. In support of this, we can arguably conclude that undergraduate students will receive a better quality education in a liberal arts college than in huge research institutions. 

Source by US News Ranking.

In a smaller environment provided by a liberal arts college, students tend to better connect with the community other as compared to larger institutions. The tightness of the community allows students to easily befriend more students and grow more as a homogenous community.

Last but not least, we should consider the future implications of a liberal arts education. In 2010, Steve Jobs famously mused that for technology to be truly brilliant, it must be coupled with artistry. “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” he said. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” Research found indicated some of America’s most successful CEOs were humanities majors. Regardless of the enormous benefit of a humanities-focused liberal arts school, we often hold the name of the institution as simply better for our future careers. We assume that big schools with big names will get us farther in life.

“It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

Steve Jobs

It is a time of technological advancements that rules of the world; but even so, we must consider the ramifications that may come if we place too much of an emphasis on STEM subjects while neglecting the core education of liberal arts. In a liberal arts school, incoming freshmen from high school can jump straight into a solid program that provides all necessary.

The pros and cons of a liberal arts school differ for every individual; hence, it comes down to you. You need to scrutinise every decision in the college process with careful thought before finalising our applications and realising too late it is the wrong place for you.

Author: Angela Hwang

Angela Hwang is a junior at Singapore American School and this is her second year working for The Eye. She is thrilled to return back to journalism and wants to produce more exciting content for the upcoming year. Angela embraces her Korean background, but considers Singapore her home. Her hobbies include taking aesthetic photographs, collecting CDs from her favorite artists, and travelling to some of the most majestic places on earth. She can be contacted at hwang41112@sas.edu.sg.

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