College · Thoughts

Liberal Arts?

I should have put more effort into deciding what college I would attend. I knew my brother went to The University of Illinois and that it was an excellent school for Computer Science. I applied to some out-of-state public schools for safety but made that decision in less than an hour. I am glad I went to college as it was crucial in my development as an adult, but my education was wasted as I felt lost in a sea of 30,000 undergraduates. I couldn’t tell you one of my teachers’ names, and they couldn’t tell you mine.

I have been researching the “Top” universities for the last year, and there are the same names in the top 20. I recently stumbled upon the site Niche. When looking for top History schools, I stumbled upon some new characters in the Top 25. Names I had never heard of before. I then went to The Princeton Review and saw some of the same. I realized that my blinders had been on regarding what makes an elite school.

I had never heard of Williams, Amherst, Pomona or Bowdoin. Yet these names were sitting at the top of many lists. They have been excluded from others because they are Liberal Arts Colleges.

A Liberal Arts College is designed to have small classes and focus on learning a broad curriculum. While excellent student-to-teacher ratios, a tight-knight campus, and creative and critical thinking promotion seem like all colleges should provide, not all do. Public institutions that do not require you to sign your body up for war (Air Force, Military, and Naval Academies) do not provide an ideal learning opportunity.

Liberal Arts Colleges are often seen as a place for the rich to send their children who have no idea what they want to do with their lives. In America, undergraduate colleges are your last stop before entering the workforce. Apparently, you should know what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re only 18 years old.

Parents fear that if their child leaves college without direction, all their money will be wasted. The fact is college life is nothing like real life. Attending college did not teach me how to function in a business environment. My temporary summer jobs did much more for me to understand how an office functions and why I wanted to be done with cubicles as quickly as possible. The computer science problems I worked on at The University of Illinois were nothing like what I faced as a software engineer.

A Liberal Arts College can also serve as a stepping stone for a career in Law. If you plan on becoming a lawyer, you will attend law school after getting your bachelor’s degree. It doesn’t matter what you majored in; you only need a degree, an outstanding GPA, and an excellent LSAT score. The liberal arts school will provide you with the necessary communication skills and the ability to present and defend your viewpoints.

You may want to feel like part of a close-knit community. When I attended a large public university, only when a roommate decided to take an elective with me did I know anyone in my classes. I didn’t have people to work on problems with and felt isolated.

Unfortunately, you may have to rely on financial aid to make a Liberal Arts College work. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered.

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