“I do think that a general liberal arts education is very important, particularly in an uncertain, changing world.” – Steve Case, Former CEO and Chairman, America Online
From anthropology to geography, fine art to modern languages, philosophy to theatre, economics to creative writing – the liberal arts are as fascinating as they are diverse.
Liberal arts programs have really raised the bar, both in terms of learning and innovative teaching environments. These creative, collaborative spaces refine the unique individual, heavily relying on student participation while encouraging greater levels of student-teacher interaction.
“Going to a liberal arts school was a given for me – I attended a small, private high school where one of the benefits was my close relationships with my teachers and peers,” says Regina Logan, an economics major at a renowned US liberal arts institution.
“In the end…emphasis on student self-direction sold me,” she adds. “Between the school’s history of ‘self-governance’, the open academic curriculum, and the huge amount of money available to fund student life, I had the sense that…students were the drivers of their academic, professional and social lives.”
Emphasis on experiential learning can be observed in liberal arts colleges across the US – a nation that’s considered home of the modern liberal arts. Students are driven to take part in classroom debates and discussions, earning points that contribute to their overall course grade. These colleges are typically small and residential, nurturing a tight-knit atmosphere where co-operative and mentorship activities frequently take place.
The structure of this type of education provider greatly differs to the more traditional university model. Here, students are immersed in an eclectic range of disciplines, building on a diverse, relevant base of knowledge. This expansive understanding of the wider world opens up a gateway to a rich array of valuable career opportunities.
Learners of the liberal arts are taught to reason across both disciplines and cultures, drawing from perspectives both familiar and foreign. This exposure to diverse viewpoints and paradigms allows students to approach certain problems with a comprehensive view of differing elements and ideas.
To ensure you tap into this thinking through your studies, you need a liberal arts college that allows creative freedom to flourish. All too often, higher education can be all theory, no practice, and so students never learn what it means to perfect and apply their passions. But equipped with a liberal arts degree from a renowned institution, you will grow with talent and real-world ambition.
Here are 5 inspiring liberal arts colleges for you to consider…
Since 1901, Sweet Briar College has produced women of consequence who go out into the world and make a difference. The distinguished liberal arts and sciences institution is known for being excellent, relevant and affordable. In fact, its new tuition model makes this private college competitive with many public universities.
Nestled on 3,250 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this school in the US state of Virginia offers students plenty of space and resources to pursue their goals in an environment that is at once challenging, inspiring and supportive. An innovative core curriculum focused on women’s leadership in the 21st century is at the heart of an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to learning. Sweet Briar encourages students to excel on the athletic field, in the riding arena, in the workplace and while studying abroad.
Sweet Briar students are surrounded by a close-knit community of faculty, coaches, friends and alumnae who push them to take what they’ve learned into the world and lead. A staggering 80 percent of students practice leadership in student organizations, and just as many complete internships.
An average class size of eight students and a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensure one-on-one research opportunities — and often lifelong friendships with faculty and peers. Within six months, more than 90 percent of Sweet Briar graduates are employed or in graduate school — from the Royal Veterinary College of London to the University of Virginia, from NAVAIR to the Smithsonian.
This four-year private liberal arts college is located in Southern California, allowing students to reap the benefits of the region’s stunning landscapes, culture and industry and use it as a living classroom.
Providing degree programs in more than 30 majors and concentrations, study here offers both a breadth and depth of disciplines. Students also have the chance to pursue an academic or interdisciplinary minor to diversify their knowledge in a range of fields. For those keen to design their own specialized major, the Whittier Scholars Program is the ideal choice.
The First-Year Experience Program has been constructed to promote a seamless introduction into college life. The program is well-known for boosting confidence socially and academically.
Employers and graduate colleges alike know Whittier is a school that prepares learners for life. Here, students spend four intensive years cultivating expertise, blossoming with independence and defining their own growth.
Colorado College is best loved for its quirks. Fostering an unconventional curriculum in which it’s up to students to define their own experience, here you will unearth your deepest passions and uncover a brand-new view of the world.
With 42 majors and 33 minors up for grabs, the liberal arts at Colorado College are a bedrock for success. From film studies to human biology, German to comparative literature, feminist & gender studies to global health – this is a place where imagination is set free to thrive.
As a rich academic community, the college blends raw fervor with a hunger for expression, conversation and mental stimulation.
“Welcome to the Block Plan, where you’ll take one class at a time for 3½ weeks,” the faculty explains. “Prepare to dive into your current passion in small discussion-based classes, where professors will know your name, encourage you to grow, and respect your stride. Master the art of balance with clubs, internships, work, athletics, community service, and adjuncts.”
Mount Holyoke is ideal for the open-minded learner. This is a space where new ideas take flight; where vibrancy, passion and innovation invigorate campus life.
Set on a picturesque 800-acre campus with more than 100 student organizations, every day at Mount Holyoke is more exciting than the last. Complete with concerts, parties, exhibits and special events, your time at the college will be a four-year exploration.
Here, you will be pushed; challenged to step outside your comfort zone and unleash your full potential. Most students choose to live in Mount Holyoke’s award-winning residence halls, delving into timeless campus traditions and co-curricular ventures.
The college brings together 2,300 students from 46 states and 80 countries, allowing students to learn and grow from diverse cultural perspectives. You’ll learn in tight-knit groups led by highly-respected professors, eventually joining the working world with confidence and pride.
Knox College sees every experience as a form of education. Here, students take knowledge learned and apply it to real-world situations, using conscious understanding to push for positive change.
Immersion at Knox takes place both in and outside of the classroom. Students delve into advanced research and creative work, plus internships and off-campus programs, creating a multi-layered, captivating education that impacts every aspect of life.
“Experiences like research or creative work, internships, community service, or study abroad allow you to apply what you learn in the classroom to hands-on, real-world situations,” the faculty explains.
“And these experiences help you gain the skills needed – to think critically and creatively, to communicate clearly, to adapt to new technologies, and to navigate today’s independent and interconnected world – for success after Knox. That’s the power of experience.”
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International