“How is a liberal arts college different from a normal university?”
As short and simple this question might seem, it is a repeated query of many high school students. Delving into the differences between universities and liberal arts schools also entails highlighting the many benefits of the latter—read on to see exactly what you need to know about liberal arts colleges and how they differ from universities.
Fact #1: Liberal arts colleges focus on the liberal arts and sciences.
Simply put, liberal arts colleges put emphasis on the learning of liberal arts and sciences, including traditional humanities subjects. They tend not to teach narrow pre-professional skills but rather, broad skills in writing and thinking. Typically, a liberal arts education offers courses in academic areas such literature, history, philosophy, languages, visual arts, natural sciences, and social sciences. Before sprinting off to an Ivy League university, take a look at your own interests to assess whether a focused education in the liberal arts is for you.
Fact#2: Liberal arts colleges are smaller compared to universities.
Because the size of the school is small, the classes are small, too. For instance, while universities often herd hundreds of undergraduate students into a lecture hallfor introductory courses, liberal arts colleges typically have classes that host an average of 20 students. This can prove to be much more efficient for one’s learning, as the student-faculty ratio is comparatively low.
Fact #3: Liberal arts colleges only teach undergraduates.
Unlike universities, which place a certain emphasis graduate students and faculty research, liberal arts colleges exist to focus only on undergraduate students. In addition to the smaller size of the colleges, this allows undergraduates to receive full attention from their professors.
Fact #4: Liberal arts colleges are often more generous with financial aid.
It is not uncommon to find students who cannot go to the schools that they are admitted to because of the expensive tuition. Some universities do offer financial aid to sterling students, but it is true that liberal arts colleges are often more generous with price discounts. For example, in the 2012 report by the US News concerning schools that claimed to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for full-time undergraduates, more than half of the 60 schools were liberal arts colleges.
This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Lauren You, a student at the Beijing World Youth Academy.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.
Photo courtesy of UNIT-E