Are you looking for the liberal arts college experience, or would you prefer to go to a state school or large university? Liberal arts colleges have a unique flavor, and they offer some special perks that larger colleges and universities don’t provide. Of course, every liberal arts college is different, but in general, they offer similar experiences, which are distinctly different than the larger schools.
Liberal arts colleges usually have small, quaint, elegant campuses, complete with landscaped grounds and picturesque study halls. Some public universities are quite grand, but most liberal arts colleges win the award for “prettiest” campuses. If aesthetics matter to you, you may want to study at a lovely liberal arts college.
Intimate Classroom Experiences
Most liberal arts colleges limit class size, which means you’ll be in small classes and have access to professors and assistants. Some professors even take attendance and dock points for missing class, which is unheard of at large universities where core classes like Psych 101 can have over 500 students crammed into an auditorium.
Close Knit Student Communities
You’ll probably get to know the other students who are majoring in the same subject as you, since you’ll be in class together repeatedly. At a big university, you may only get to know a handful of the students who share your major, but you’ll probably get to know most of your fellow students at a small college.
This means you’ll easily form study groups and you won’t feel alone when facing daunting exams or labs. You’ll be able to commiserate with your fellow study-group friends and will be able to warn each other about an upcoming class or figure out what classes are more enjoyable than others.
Relationships With Your Professors
You’ll also get to know your professors, since liberal arts professors are required to hold office hours and are usually able to stay aware of which students require or desire additional attention.
At a state school, you may remain completely anonymous, and your professor may not have any idea who that straight-A student of his or hers is. At a liberal arts college, you won’t be able to fly under the radar as much.
You will find that it is highly advantageous to build relationships with professors. They may be willing to write you letters of recommendations so you can get into advanced degree programs or get a job after graduation. They might be able to help you find career-related college jobs (as a research assistant or intern.) Professors often give helpful tips in office hours that they don’t offer during class lectures.
Your professor may also help you get premium work-study assignments or other financial aid, such as access to grants and scholarships you would not have known about, had you not gotten to know your professors.
Liberal arts colleges feel like small towns, which means you may feel more safe and secure than if you were at a large university. Many state colleges and universities sprawl out over the breadth of an urban area, meaning you may need to walk or take a bus across campus (and through the city) to get to classes or resources. Many students prefer the security of a small cluster of college buildings on a secluded, private college, feeling that it is a much safer environment.
Choosing a College
Choosing a college can be tricky. You’ll probably want to schedule campus visits before you commit to a particular college.