While choosing an area of study is a challenging task, deciding on a college can be equally trying. To simplify the process, we are breaking down the benefits of studying engineering at a liberal arts college.
1. Smaller Classes:
Many students opt to attend large universities on the basis of prestige, but big institutions lack the ability to offer one-on-one interaction between student and professor. Liberal arts colleges provide smaller classes, which give instructors the opportunity to get to know their students individually. A big lecture hall can be an intimidating environment for an engineering student who does not grasp a concept, while smaller classrooms invite undergraduates to speak up when questions arise. This allows for more casual, in-depth learning experiences.
2. More Opportunities, Less Competition:
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs at large universities often emphasize research. Many of these institutions offer graduate programs, and there are numerous students competing for coveted research positions. Liberal arts students do not face the competitiveness that is often found in larger schools.
Liberal arts colleges emphasize a well-rounded approach, which pays off during the student’s college experience and beyond. Liberal arts students study a variety of topics in addition to engineering. Future employers will be impressed by the extensive knowledge a liberal arts college graduate has to offer. In addition to his/her technical expertise, a well-rounded employee can brainstorm and collaborate with others, write content, prepare presentations, and complete other tasks necessary in his/her field. This streamlines the training process for employers.
Many liberal arts colleges offer exciting 3-2 engineering programs. This unique opportunity allows students to attend the liberal arts college for three years before completing their final two years at a partnering university.
There are many benefits associated with 3-2 programs. Because liberal arts colleges allow students to study a variety of subjects, the students’ broad base of knowledge will help them to thrive in the university setting.
One example of a liberal arts college featuring a 3-2 engineering program is Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. This program offers a B.S. and M.S. in only five years, including chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, or mechanical engineering degrees. As a bonus, selected students receive a full tuition scholarship for their fifth year.
Another liberal arts institution offering a dual degree program is Davidson College in North Carolina. Davidson partners with Columbia University in New York and Washington University in St. Louis. Students who complete the required prerequisites and maintain the requisite GPA are guaranteed admission into the two affiliated engineering schools.
There are a variety of factors future engineering students must consider when choosing between a large university and a liberal arts college. Many students and their parents assume liberal arts programs are beyond the realm of possibility due to tuition rates alone. However, many liberal arts students graduate a full year (or more) earlier than university students, decreasing tuition fees and allowing students to enter the workforce sooner. This bridges the gap between the perceived higher-cost liberal arts education and the less-expensive big university fees. The average cost of a liberal arts education is only $88,000 as opposed to other schools whose total cost comes in at approximately $81,500. Plus, because liberal arts students generally start earning money sooner, they come out ahead in the long run.
It is not just engineering courses, but the full college experience that allows liberal arts students to thrive as engineers. Individuals with experience and knowledge in a variety of subjects often prove to be the most sought-after employees. With a liberal arts degree in engineering, you will stand above the rest.