What are Liberal Arts Colleges?

There are different types of higher education institutions, but those that may be confusing to understand are the “liberal arts colleges”.   For EIS students planning to study in the U.S., Canada or Europe, I would recommend considering liberal arts schools instead of the larger public universities. Here’s why:

  1. Liberal arts colleges are smaller than universities.   This means that more individual attention is given to each student. There’s usually little chance for a student to sleep or text unnoticed or come to class unprepared as everyone is expected to contribute to class discussions. There will be no classes of 300 students in an auditorium!
  2. Liberal arts colleges are residential. This means students must live on campus for a minimum period of time, usually at least one or two years. This is not a bad thing! Students will be more likely to get involved in campus activities and have richer cultural experiences. The overall college learning experience will be better.
  3. Liberal arts colleges typically offer a two-year exploration of the liberal arts or general knowledge (science, math, literature, etc.) before declaring a major. Think of the program as a “T” – the horizontal line is the broad education and the vertical line is the focus of study.

Additionally, many competitive liberal arts colleges will place strong emphasis on developing strong writing, communication and critical thinking skills.

The ultimate purpose of a good liberal arts college is to teach students how to ask questions, not just answer questions.

Although many liberal arts colleges are exclusively undergraduate, some also offer graduate programs that lead to a master’s degree or doctoral degree in subjects such as business administrationnursingmedicine, and law. Similarly, although the term “liberal arts college” most commonly refers to an independent institution, it may also sometimes refer to a university college within or affiliated with a larger university. Most liberal arts colleges outside the United States follow this model.