The Little-Known Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education

September 16, 2021
By AdmissionSight

The Little-Known Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education

There are many different types of colleges and universities that exist within the United States. Whether it has to do with private or public institutions, large or small schools, or style of learning, there is no shortness of options for students. One such option is the liberal arts school

But what are the benefits of a liberal arts education?

Here at AdmissionSight, we make it our goal to help the high school students that we work with get accepted to the schools at the top of their lists.

It is not uncommon for some of our students each year to specifically target some of the best liberal arts schools in the country. But what are liberal arts schools, what are their benefits and what are their shortcomings when it comes to the kinds of education that they offer?

Group of students working on a table in a library.

If you have found yourself asking these questions and more about liberal arts colleges, then you have absolutely come to the right place! Let us at AdmissionSight break down everything there is that you need to know about why liberal arts education matters.

Let’s get started!

What is a liberal arts school?

To put it simply, a liberal arts school is a college that puts a strong emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences. These schools take an approach to offer broad knowledge and help their students develop general intellectual capabilities.

This falls in contrast to a professional, vocational or technical curriculum. So, students at a liberal arts school will major in a specific discipline, but they will also receive a fair amount of exposure to a wider range of academic subjects. Liberal arts schools seek to challenge students, turn them into expert critical thinkers, and prepare them to become cultured and global citizens of the world.

Top liberal arts school in the United States

Now that you have a general idea of what a liberal arts school is and how it approaches education, here is a brief list of some of the top liberal arts schools in the country.

  • Dartmouth College
  • Williams College
  • Amherst College
  • Swarthmore College
  • Pomona College
  • Wellesley College
  • Vassar College
  • Barnard College

These are just some of the top liberal arts schools in the country, but there are many more to choose from! All it takes is a quick Google search to find out about all the fantastic liberal arts schools that exist all over.

Why liberal arts education matter?

Whether you are a student considering applying to liberal arts colleges, or a parent of a student who is thinking about it, chances are pretty good that you are interested in learning more about the value and importance of that type of education. Here are some of the top things to consider when it comes to how and why liberal arts education matter.

two college students inside a library and smiling while looking at the camera

Liberal arts education exposes students to a diversified approach to learning

Liberal arts education offers students a form of learning that integrates and involves multiple different areas of study. Through that, suppose those students widen broad ranges of subject areas. This is very important because it gives those students an opportunity to gain a wider perspective when it comes to what topics interest them most and what career paths they may want to go down in the near future.

While specialization is certainly important in certain areas of study, many of the largest and most successful companies in the world love to find young potential employees who have a great understanding and appreciation for many different types of important topics.

Liberal arts school gives students the freedom to explore different topics

Another fabulous reason why liberal arts education matters is because they give students more of an opportunity to explore different topics that they are interested in. This is opposed to a more traditional style of undergraduate study, in which students focus highly on whatever subject they are pursuing a major in.

At a liberal arts school, students get the chance to spread their wings from an intellectual standpoint. They will get to study interesting and important subjects such as political science, sociology, psychology, natural science, philosophy, legal studies, creative writing, and so much more.

This not only offers students the chance to gain important knowledge and perspective about the world that we all live in, but it also encourages them to become better and more adventurous learners. This will serve them as young adults, and this will serve them even more as they continue to age and mature.

Finally, the freedom to actually choose their subjects gives them a stronger sense of ownership and pride in the courses that they take in college. This is a stark comparison to the previously mentioned traditional style of learning, in which students are essentially told or forced to take certain courses to fulfill their major.

Liberal arts education offers immense employment opportunities

Another fantastic reason why liberal arts education matters is because they offer the students who get them a wide range of employment opportunities. So, if a student is not yet sure what kind of career they want to pursue once they graduate from their undergraduate program, getting a liberal arts degree can allow them to keep as many doors as possible open.

It is incredibly common for students who receive liberal arts degrees to end up going into exciting and lucrative fields such as marketing, IT, law, health care, design, academics, and business.

While hyper focused undergraduate programs can be a great option for students who know exactly what they want to do with their subsequent careers, it is hard to argue against the fact that liberal arts educations offer an incredibly wide array of options and paths that a student can take upon completion of college.

Liberal arts school offer a powerful way to improve critical thinking

If there is one major knock that many experts have on the current style of education in the United States, it’s that the typical style of education does not lead to young minds who are especially adept at critical thinking. Critical thinking is a skill that not only improves people’s professional lives, but also their personal lives.

A male Asian student reading a book inside the library

Luckily, with subjects ranging from humanities to social sciences, and formal sciences to natural sciences, students that take part in a liberal arts education get a crash course in what it means to be an expert critical thinker. Ultimately, this skill allows students to be more pragmatic and open-minded in their lives and will certainly impress many people and potential employers that they come across in the years following their education.

Liber arts education leads to socially responsible and conscious individuals

This is a factor of her liberal arts education that should never be overlooked. Unlike other graduate and undergraduate education types, that focus primarily on highly specialized subjects, a liberal arts education seeks to create individuals or worldly and conscious of other POV’s in the world.

This is done through an emphasis on volunteering and civic responsibilities. This also leads to students naturally gravitating towards getting more involved in social discourse and conversations.

Ultimately, it also often leads to people pursuing a career in the public sphere, as they try to come up with creative and positive ways to solve problems and challenges that face our society today.

Liberal arts schools prepare students for jobs that have yet to be created

This may be the most important and compelling reason why it’s worth it to pursue a liberal arts education. If you have spent any amount of time in the workforce, you know very well how quickly the global economy can change.

New technologies and industries continuously augment and disrupt the status quo. This can be highly concerning for individuals who studied a very specific subject for a very specific type of job during their undergraduate and graduate educations.

A young woman smiling while looking at her laptop

However, when it comes to people with liberal arts education, they are given the tools and skills needed to evolve with an ever evolving job market. Considering the fact that one study by the World Economic Forum  has deduced that most children will end up working jobs that do not even exist yet, it should be clear just how important being a flexible and well rounded candidate for a job can be.

Some of the top skills that all liberal arts students learn that help them in this respect include the ability to think critically, be creative, adapt to change, and collaborate with others.

Liberal arts education creates leaders

Finally, one of the most important reasons why liberal arts education matters is because they helped turn the students who attend liberal arts schools into courageous and effective leaders. After all, some of the top leaders in the world of business, and attainment, politics, and more received liberal arts educations.

a female student on an open mic

The reason why is because liberal arts education challenges students to think about not only how they can solve problems at hand, but also help students learn how to ask the right questions and find the right answers. This prepares any young man or woman for leadership positions in their field of interest.

The pros and cons of a liberal arts education

So, while liberal arts education may be seen as playing the second fiddle to a more traditional style of undergraduate education in the United States, it should be clear that there are some very important and valuable aspects that students can benefit from.

Still, just because there are many reasons why a liberal arts education matters, does not mean that there aren’t some downsides that students who are considering their collegiate options should be aware of. For that reason, we at AdmissionSight thought it would be a great idea to break down the top pros and cons that come with going to a liberal arts school.

Of course, it is important to keep in mind that what matters most is how a student responds to the kind of education personally. Some students flourish in a liberal arts education, while others would struggle greatly – and vice versa! With that being said, let’s go over the top pros and cons.

Pro: Students get a broad range of skills

We have already gone over this to a certain degree, but it really is important to mention it here again. Students who pursue a liberal arts education enjoy a wide range of knowledge and skills. This not only makes their education fresh and exciting but can also prepare them for the workforce in a unique way.

Con: The lessons can be very broad

This consideration especially applies to young men and women who already have a fairly good idea of where they may watch to pursue a career. The broad scope of a liberal arts education ended up being quite frustrating to students who want to focus on particular topics to prepare themselves for Graduate School or a specialized job.

Moreover, depending on the kind of student, the broadness of the education type can end up being distracting and difficult to commit to.

Pro: Smaller class size and greater faculty access

This might be one of the very best aspects of going to a liberal arts school. Because these schools are often far smaller than your typical four-year program, students enjoy much more intimate access to their teachers and faculty.

This not only means more opportunity to take part in office hours and meet with teachers out of class, but it also often leads to a far more involved and equitable classroom.

It is especially rare for students at liberal arts schools to have to take courses with several hundred students in a packed auditorium. Historically, that has been very common at big state schools and similarly sized institutions.

If a student thrives in a smaller classroom environment, they should absolutely consider a liberal arts education as an option.

Con: Lack of funding

It’s no mystery why some of the best funded schools in the United States often end up near the top of the rankings for best schools in the country. Schools that gain billions of dollars of funding every year have a major advantage when it comes to purchasing cutting edge equipment and research materials, updating buildings for lodging and classrooms, and recruiting and retaining top faculty.

On the other hand, universities are often able to draw in internationally recognized experts who can teach students from real life experience. While liberal arts faculty obviously have a lot of passion and knowledge on the subjects that they teach they may lack the same kind of credentials or connections that students can benefit from if they are at larger universities with large endowments.

Pro: Liberal arts educations offer strong flexibility

As previously mentioned, liberal arts education offers students a strong amount of flexibility when it comes to the kinds of careers that they are able to pursue.

This gives them the tools that they need to continue looking for the career that is best suited for them after college. Beyond that, it also allows them to enjoy a fair amount of flexibility within a chosen career path as they look to move up the ranks in a company or industry that they are working in.

Con: It can be hard to pay off loans with a liberal arts education

As a final consideration, we think it is important to keep in mind that liberal arts education may not be seen as a viable way to pay off student loans, at least at first. After all, many of the liberal arts schools that we mentioned near the top of this piece are just as – if not more -expensive than many of the top schools in the country that offer more traditional education.

Beyond that, liberal arts graduates tend to make less in their first job upon graduation on average compared to students who graduate from more traditional schools.

With that being said, liberal arts graduates are known to make more at their peak earning ages compared to graduates at traditional schools.

Need more advice on applying to top-tier colleges?

Now that you have a better idea of what liberal arts education offers, what they may lack, and why they are important, chances are good that you have a better idea of whether or not it could be a good fit for you!

Here at AdmissionSight, we make it our goal to help the students that we work with getting into the schools that are the best fit for them. Contact us today if you are interested in setting up a free consultation to see what we bring to the table when it comes to helping high school students realize their college admissions dreams.

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