As you decide where to attend college, one of the choices is whether or not to apply to a liberal arts school – an undergraduate institution that emphasizes the liberal arts and sciences such as art history, literature and mathematics.
Although some research universities include a liberal arts department, liberal arts colleges are typically differentiated from technical colleges and research universities. What might make you a good match for a liberal arts college? What attributes do liberal arts students share? Consider these traits as you apply to colleges:
1. You enjoy discussing ideas.
If you are excited about attending college in order to study and discuss complex and fascinating ideas with other people (peers and professors, alike), a liberal arts college may be right for you. Whether you are interested in art, philosophy or science, liberal arts schools will expect to see evidence of your intellectual curiosity. Your admissions essay or college interview is an excellent place to demonstrate this trait.
2. You are interested in a cross-curricular or non-traditional degree.
While liberal arts colleges are often smaller and may offer fewer degrees than larger universities, they typically offer greater flexibility in the form of a cross-curricular (or multi-subject) diplomas. Many liberal arts colleges will also allow you to develop your own major. For example, you could combine music and history.
3. You are not committed to a particular career path.
If you are not certain about what you wish to do in the future, a liberal arts college can be a great choice. Liberal arts colleges provide the opportunity to explore a variety of fields. In addition, the purpose of a liberal arts degree is to help you gain a strong general education and to learn a number of skills that are applicable to a wide variety of careers and life circumstances. As you prepare your college application, emphasize skills like creativity, logic and problem-solving to prove that you possess the foundation for a liberal arts degree.
4. You are interested in a small, intimate college experience.
Liberal arts colleges tend to be smaller institutions. Class sizes are purposefully limited to encourage discussion and interaction with peers and professors. Since the main purpose of a liberal arts college is undergraduate education, as opposed to research, professors at these colleges are typically very devoted to their classes and students. The college life at these schools, while often lacking large football games and an extensive Greek system, tends to be close-knit. While there are not as many student groups and extracurricular activities at smaller colleges, the percentage of students who participate may be larger. In addition, students are often encouraged to participate in activities outside of their majors. Not only does this lead to more opportunities for you, it also means that your peer group may be more diverse.
5. You would like a well-rounded, classical education
You can find a well-rounded education at a variety of schools, but you may be more likely to find peers who also value this type of education at a liberal arts college. Liberal arts colleges are more likely to offer a large selection of science, philosophy, language, and arts courses dedicated to education, rather than just career preparation.
When you are applying to liberal arts colleges, you should keep in mind that these schools are looking for students who are a good fit, just like you are looking for a college that is a good fit. On your college applications, be sure to demonstrate that you are well-rounded and unique, rather than emphasizing how much of an expert you are in a certain area or how far you have progressed on a certain career path.