Evaluating and choosing a liberal arts college

If you have already determined that you would like to enroll in a liberal arts college, there are many factors you must consider before deciding which liberal arts college would be the best fit for you.  Luckily, there is a wealth of information provided by sources like college websites and the U.S. News and World Report that will help you sift through the data in order to determine which school is right for you.  Here is a short list of some of the most important factors to consider while evaluating liberal arts colleges.

Quality of education

Student to faculty ratio.  Although many liberal arts colleges typically have small student to faculty ratios, it’s important to remember that not all liberal arts colleges do.  Therefore, if a small student to faculty ratio is important to you, make sure you research which schools meet this criteria.

Qualifications of faculty members.  A good professor can often enhance your classroom experience.  For this reason, choosing a liberal arts college with quality staff is very important.  This is especially true if you are seeking a major in a specific department.  For example, if your primary focus is to eventually major in anthropology, it’s very important that you choose a liberal arts college with an anthropology department of seasoned faculty members who are not only experienced in the teaching profession, but also have experience in the field that they teach. 

Accreditation.  Although there are many different types of accreditation, the two most popular are national accreditation and regional accreditation. ...
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Liberal arts colleges are a small group of well-regarded academic institutions that educate about 3% of the nation’s graduates. The primary goal of a liberal arts college is to educate the student as a whole through a dynamic and broad course of study which enables students to be knowledgeable about a range of subjects.

With this unique teaching philosophy, liberal arts colleges have a long historical reputation of success. However, a liberal arts college is not for everybody. Deciding whether or not a liberal arts college is the right choice for you is a simple matter of self-examination and reflection. Answering the following questions should help you sift through your reservations, and assist you in deciding if a liberal arts college is the right college for you:  
What type of degree do you want to study? Classes at liberal arts colleges focus on a breadth of courses in the humanities, arts, sciences, social sciences and mathematics. If you happen to be interested in liberal studies, of course, a liberal arts college will be a perfect fit for you. If you wish to study a technical degree with a career focus like engineering, accounting, or computer science, a liberal arts college is not recommended. If you are a high school student and do not yet know which degree you want to pursue, a liberal arts college may be a good option for you as well. A liberal arts college will educate you on a wide range of subjects that can help you take your career in many different directions after graduation. 
What is...
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The history of a liberal arts education dates back to classical antiquity. Stemming from the Latin word ‘liberalis.’ meaning “appropriate for free men,” a liberal arts education was a course of study considered essential for free citizens of Greece and Rome.   In the minds of the ancient Greeks and Romans, a liberal arts education was necessary for a human being to be free. On the other hand, vocational or technical studies were often thought to best fit non-free members of society or slaves. To those fortunate enough to be awarded a liberal arts education, their education emphasized civic duty and the development of the whole human being to their full potential through the study of grammar, rhetoric, and logic. 
Ultimately, the main goal for free citizens of Greece and Rome was to participate in civic life. Therefore studies in liberal arts, such as grammar, rhetoric, and logic, reflected the skills necessary for civic duty. During medieval times subject matter was extended to include arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. In modern times, liberal arts colleges today also strive to develop the whole human being by instructing students in a wide range of subjects and courses. As a result, the curriculum of these liberal arts colleges often focus on a range of subjects in the arts, humanities, social sciences, science, and mathematics. 
Roots of the Liberal Arts Teaching Method
In addition, a liberal arts education also takes root in the Socratic Method, named after the famous Greek philosopher Socrates. Socrates used a unique method of teaching in a question and dialogue...
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Taking that giant leap forward from high school to college can be very stressful and sometimes cumbersome.  Given a wide range of colleges to choose from, it is very important for students to make the best choice possible.

Although there are many academic opportunities available to high school graduates, Liberal Arts colleges are a wonderful option for students to consider in the next step of their academic future. Liberal arts colleges are a small but well regarded academic force in the American higher education system. Unlike technical schools that offer a narrow range of academic focus, a liberal arts college supports the cross-disciplinary education of a broad overview of subjects in the study of the arts. To put it simply, a liberal arts education never focuses on one particular subject but instead supports a large breadth of subjects in the humanities, social sciences, sciences and mathematics. 
Overall, a liberal arts education creates renaissance men and women that are better able to adapt in a constantly changing world. In addition, classes at liberal arts colleges highly encourage inquiry and exploration. Due to their small size and overall objective, liberal arts colleges are unique for many reasons. The most obvious of these are: 
Smaller classroom sizes.  Small teacher-to-student ratios allow students to receive a better quality education with more personal attention from their professors. At a liberal arts college, a student is never just another number. Typically classes have anywhere from 12 to 30 students in a classroom. As a result, the entire student body is small, normally around 700 to 2500 students. In...
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You've decided to attend a liberal arts college. Congratulations. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding which liberal arts college to attend and you might not know where to begin. It is important to ensure that the college you select is one that will meet your personal needs as well as your educational ones. Following are some guidelines to help you determine which liberal arts college is best for you.
Evaluating the School and Assessing the Curriculum

You should start considering which liberal arts college you would like to attend no later than May of your junior year in high school. Between your parents, your school counselor, your friends and through your own knowledge and research, you should have a decent list of potential colleges to choose from. In June, its time to start researching each and every one of the schools on this list and assessing their curriculum.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Not all liberal arts colleges are created equal and you want to make sure the liberal arts college you choose isnt weak in the areas that are of most importance to you. For instance, if you want to study music, you dont want to attend a liberal arts college with a strong science program but a sub-par music offering. Because of this, its important to discover the strengths and weaknesses of each liberal arts college on your list.

Student/Teacher Ratio

Many students who decide to attend a liberal arts college prefer a lower student/teacher ratio. However, it is important to...
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About Liberal Arts Colleges:

Learn the history and philosophy behind liberal arts colleges in the United States.

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Evaluating and choosing a liberal arts college
Published January 22, 2013
This article discusses important factors to consider when evaluating and choosing a liberal arts college.

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