How important is a liberal arts education?

Written Oct 11, 2016


Let’s begin by agreeing that college should change your life.”

Loren Pope begins his book, Colleges That Change Lives, with this statement. He continues to make a clear case of the value and importance of a liberal arts education. The remainder of his book profiles 40 colleges that emphasize the importance of teaching the undergraduate.

What is a liberal arts education?

It refers to an educational philosophy that embraces the value and importance of studying core academic subjects, typically comprising the humanities (literature, history, fine arts,, languages, religion, and philosophy) and the sciences (natural sciences, math, and social sciences).”

Therefore, you can get a liberal arts education at Harvard, the US Naval Academy, or your state university … or not. A liberal arts education is not comprised of vocational education or training.

So what’s all the fuss about “liberal arts colleges”?

The (liberal arts) colleges … have one primary mission: educate the undergraduate.”

Large prestigious universities earn their reputations substantially based upon the quality of research, and published works. The quality of their undergraduate education is difficult to quantify, and is therefore a minor contributor to their rankings.

The little-known truth is that that these (liberal arts) colleges have been on the cutting edge of higher education for decades. Many of them have outperformed most of the rankings sweethearts in the percentages of graduates who become America’s scientists and scholars. Their students have won Fulbrights, Rhodeses, Goldwaters, Watsons, and other prestigious postgraduate scholarships far out of proportion to their sizes and selectivity. And their graduates get accepted to medical, dental, law, and graduate schools at rates that far outpace the national averages.”