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Why international students should pursue a liberal arts education

Liberal arts
Source: Antioch College

An American liberal arts education is a great option for international students. Start with the fact that it’s vast and flexible enough for those who have not yet decided what to major in. With a wide variety of subjects — humanities, sciences and social sciences — this four-year degree programme allows students to explore new things beyond their chosen major.

Several other benefits international students can expect to receive are: interdisciplinary learning where one can change or combine their interests or even not declare a major, and more one-to-one interaction with faculty and classmates due to smaller class sizes. They gain critical thinking and communication skills, and engagement in external cross-cultural learning too. Plus, with grand cities and charming towns that ooze with history, culture and more, they have an enviable living laboratory to complement all they learn in lecture halls.

If this is the path you seek, here are four US universities offering a dynamic liberal arts programme:

Antioch College

Located in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch College is a College of Action where students actively take part in designing their own education experience.

More than just students, Antioch envisions them to be changemakers. The first step? A robust multidisciplinary foundation.

Here, students not only get to design their major from the arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities. They can also include aspects of social justice, equity and environmental sustainability into their repertoire to gain exposure to various disciplines.

Learning is experiential here, with students frequently applying the knowledge gained in classrooms. From problem-based projects to makerspaces, cultural immersion to work-based co-op education, students are free to experiment, try and grow.

The flagship co-op programme sees students spending a minimum of three academic terms or up to one-third of their academic programme on full-time work or research opportunities with local and international partner organisations in the arts, non-profits, private sector jobs, and government positions.

At the same time, they’re learning about global issues such as diversity and social justice, and taking up a compulsory foreign language, which helps them become more culturally aware of the world around them. They participate in a combination of interactive lectures, discussions, field trips and projects.

That’s not to distract from the dynamism of its campus community. At this collaborative college, democracy is practised as a part of everyday life. Antiochians do more than just follow the rules, they make them by taking part in the design and governance of the college.

With all of these features, it is little wonder that students here evolve into graduates who are set to win victories for humanity. To learn more about Antioch College, click here.

DePauw University

As Indiana’s top national liberal arts college, DePauw University attracts over 1,700 students, of which 13% are international. DePauw’s 695-acre campus in Greencastle, Indiana is rated one of America’s 50 most beautiful campuses. The nearby 520-acre nature park also offers students access to natural scenery, including fields, forests and one of Indiana’s largest waterfalls. Metropolitan Indianapolis is just a 40-minute drive away. 

Liberal arts

Students enjoying their strolls around DePauw University. Source: DePauw University, Facebook

Within the liberal arts programme are numerous majors, minors and pathways including Actuarial Studies, Africana Studies, Music and Pre-Engineering; Biochemistry and Jazz Studies; Archaeology, Business and Sustainability, to name a few. Students can conduct undergraduate research as well.

DePauw’s students engage in a variety of learning opportunities including the Honor Scholar and Fellows Programme — immersive experiences where top-range faculty and gifted students work alongside industry leaders for a stimulating and transformative experience. Students can also choose to study abroad and pick from a wide range of off-campus programmes in over 45 countries, including summer and semester-long study abroad.

DePauw’s small student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1 allows students to work with faculty as their mentors on designing solutions for world issues too. 

Bard College

Bard College’s innovative liberal arts programme sees 1,900 students coming to learn at its main Annandale, New York campus which also includes the serene Montgomery Place, a 380-acre estate overlooking the Hudson River. The Bard Network comprises three other American campuses and one in Berlin. 

Liberal arts

Bard College on a beautiful Fall day. Source: Bard College, Facebook

Undergraduate students at Bard can study in four divisions — Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; and Social Studies where they undertake both traditional and interdisciplinary academic endeavours.

All first-year students follow a common curriculum: the Language and Thinking Programme, First-Year Seminar, and Citizen Science courses. On top of these, they participate in Moderation, a significant feature of Bard’s education programme — they review their record and then plan a future study course. Finally, the student’s combined academic experiences culminate in an original Senior Project.

Ultimately, Bard’s students obtain a scholarly foundation while developing a healthy love of learning, which also extends to outside the classroom like working on Bard’s own farm.

Bard’s low student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 means students benefit from interactions with its distinguished faculty who are scholars, advisors and instructors. Bard also does not hire graduate teaching assistants.

Knox College

A Knox College education is powerful. Located in Galesburg, Illinois, this is where you’ll receive a “human-powered education,” which translates to a community of good people doing hard work that powers the world. It is deeply, richly human, as well as strong, confident and purposeful.

Liberal arts

At Knox College, students receive a “human-powered education” as they live in a diverse, welcoming, and compelling campus. Source: Knox College, Facebook

A Knox education is also rooted in a singular intellectual community, where you’ll be more than just a spectator. You’ll have a voice in a unique space—few liberal arts colleges in America have a community as diverse, welcoming, and compelling as Knox. After all, students come from 48 states and 51 countries–and nearly 20% come from outside the U.S.

At Knox, you’ll learn to apply theory to practice, engaging in real-world experiences such as internships, in-depth research and creative projects, study abroad, and community service. And you’ll receive a US$2,000 Power of Experience Grant to make these experiences possible.

You might also take advantage of Knox’s Immersion Experiences — focused, hands-on exploration of a single field of study over the course of an entire term. You might explore Japan’s cities, assemble an exhibition in studio art, conduct research at its Green Oaks biological field station, or even complete an internship at local agencies that provide psychological services, to name just a few.

You can choose from 42 majors and 57 minor fields of study, led by real professors (not graduate students!) in small classes averaging just 14 students. You’ll have a truly human-powered education to prepare you for great success and a rewarding life in the real world.

The result? Satisfied graduates. Knox College is on the Forbes magazine Grateful Grads index — a list of the top colleges where alumni feel that they received the greatest return on their college investment. That’s also why Knox is recognized as one of America’s Colleges That Change Lives.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International