As the school year ends, high school grads will begin to contemplate where they want to attend college. Considering numerous factors, including tuition, major, location, and sports, choosing the school where they will spend the next four years of their lives, harvesting their dreams can be a difficult and daunting process. Many young men and women will choose to go to school at small liberal arts colleges and universities across the United States. Liberal arts education emphasizes a well-rounded learning experience. Liberal learning introduces books and music, science and philosophy, mathematics and literature in order to harbor creative and disciplined habits of the mind. At these institutions, education is about learning to think creatively and critically in all disciplines rather than reducing one’s interests and thoughts to one material circumstance. Today, with technology and society ever changing, it no longer makes sense to spend four years learning a single trade. Job hopefuls need to enter the workforce with an education that is dynamic and diverse.
In a liberal arts degree program, students are generally required to complete a certain amount of “common” curriculum credit hours alongside their major’s curriculum requirements. These courses include general science, mathematics, literature, foreign language, and history classes. This means that even a Physics major will have to complete a class on literature and that even an English major will have to take a course in the Mathematics department. While this can be frustrating for students, it is an immeasurably valuable endeavor. Having a diverse education is a selling point for any employer in any industry. While an electrical engineer probably won’t need to understand what the whale symbolizes in Melville’s Moby Dick, having a level of comfort with written argument and within a subject that they are less confident in is a valuable lesson learned. Liberal arts education focuses on producing well-rounded individuals who are comfortable or at least introduced to every subject matter.
While liberal arts education forces students to take classes they might not otherwise pursue, all too often students enter these schools with a narrow idea of what it is they are interested in. I believe that it is important to enter college with an open mind as to what you might be interested in. Use this time to discover what subjects truly interest and inspire you. You may go into college thinking that you want to be a doctor and discover that you love anthropology. Be open to change. Take classes you wouldn’t normally take and you might surprise yourself. You will find no other opportunity in your life (unless you strike oil) to take amazing classes from the smartest people in the country and learn about any subject you desire. Don’t limit yourself just because surgeons make more money than kindergarten teachers or CEOs have nicer cars than scientists. Find something that inspires you to mean something in the world we live in.
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.