Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What's in a College Part 1: Liberal Arts Colleges

Hello everyone! Today, I begin a series on the different types of colleges and universities there are available to you. The first type I am going to discuss is the Liberal Arts College.

Liberal arts colleges are typically on the smaller side and focus mainly on undergraduate education. Because of the smaller size, you are able to have a better connection with your professors and establish rapport with them a lot easier. You can discuss the course material more easily with them, ask them questions about career opportunities, and even attend events around campus with them and their colleagues. Usually classes will be larger in the introductory courses, since a lot of students take these (25-40 students), but once you get into your major-specific courses, your classes tend to be even smaller (10-15 students).  You become close with your fellow students and professors while creating lasting friendships and relationships.

A liberal arts curriculum means that you have to take classes that are required for your major, as well as, classes that fit "general education distribution requirements." This means that you will also have to take a class or two in psychology or education, a type of science, a foreign language, mathematics, literature, art, and history. The specific requirements vary between colleges, but this type of education helps you get a well-rounded academic experience. This is especially helpful if you are going into college undecided; you can wet your feet in many genres of courses, while still meeting requirements for graduation in 4 years.

My experience: I attended a small (1,200 students) liberal arts college for my undergraduate education and it was the perfect setting for me. I wanted a community atmosphere with traditions, close connections with faculty and administrators, as well as, many unique opportunities to become involved on campus. I received all of these things plus more at my alma mater, Elmira College. I enjoyed taking classes in the different subject areas, as well as, being able to dance, be a Resident Assistant, work in multiple offices, and join as many clubs as I wanted. I made my college experience what I wanted and I enjoyed every second of it. Also, liberal arts colleges have fantastic alumni who donate to the college, so usually they offer really great scholarships as well. For me, this was a HUGE perk!! (Because of my scholarship, it was cheaper for me to go to a private college than it would have been to go to a public, state school.)

US News and World Reports establishes a list every year of the best colleges in the nation. Here is their ranking of the best Liberal Arts Colleges. Disclaimer: Don't judge a school based on its ranking. You need to find a college that best fits your needs, expectations, and desires for a college education. Use these rankings as an opportunity to research some liberal arts colleges that you're attracted to at first glance to see if you actually want to pursue them!

enjoy the chase,

P.S. These photos are of Hamilton College, a prestigious liberal arts college located in Clinton, New York. 

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