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Tag Archive | "Liberal Arts"

A Model Education – Planning Ahead Pays Off


The following is a guest article provided by Joseph Baker.

Many liberal arts educations are set up in such a way that encourages students to try their hand at many subjects before settling on a major. The idea is noble in that discovery is one of the most important parts of higher education. Exposure to new ideas of which you were previously unaware can be the catalyst to a lifetime of passionate study. On the other hand, many students get stuck in indecision, taking on a major that may be convenient for grades but not representative of the career path they want to follow.

When a company wants to test something out, they create a rapid prototype of it. A rapid prototype is essentially a model from which the manufacturer can determine what changes need to be made before a product is churned out en masse. It helps save costs during the manufacturing process because a small mistake could result in a huge and costly recall.

Indecision could be that defect. Coming into college with an actionable plan for what you want to achieve puts you on a dedicated path and gives you a focus and a goal to strive towards over your college career. That’s not to say there can’t be variation – you can and you should attend classes that interest you, that put you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes those classes are the most important ones. Just don’t lose sight of your goals. Even if they change, making sure you are aiming for more specific than “a degree in something” will help you avoid the same pitfalls that consume year after year of students.

Speaking from experience, this is the largest and most depressing reason to switch around your college career. By my junior year I was working three jobs, enrolled in the honors curriculum and drowning in the stress and anxiety of it all. Financial aid had run out and I was failing in classes I cared about. It’s not uncommon. In fact, it’s long been known that dropout rates are linked to financial woes.

Students who pay for school themselves are more likely to dropout due to financial issues than those who get help from their families, according to a survey conducted by Public Agenda reported by the New York Times. Many students are faced with the reality that they may not graduate on time due to class scheduling, changing majors, and other factors. The survey shows that 2.8 million new students enroll in higher education every year. Of this number, only one in five students who enroll in an associate’s degree program graduate in three years, and two in five who enroll in a four-year plan graduate in six years. Students who face paying for tuition themselves may not be able to afford the tuition for extra years.

When money woes occur, there is often very little you can do about it other than try to mitigate your exposure, find more college money resources (apply for grants and scholarships like crazy, take on a second job, take cheaper classes) or drop out. It’s a dreary juncture to come to and it can be avoided with a comprehensive plan going into college. It’s a tall order to ask a high school student or first year freshman to plan their academic careers in advance, but the payoff, though distant, is worth it.

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Is a Liberal Arts Education Affordable?


IvyLeagueCampusI came across an article by Lynn O’Shaugnessy, author of the College Solution blog,and she talks about the advantages of getting a liberal arts education. The following are the reasons Lynn provides for attending a liberal arts college or university. For the purpose of CheapScholar.org, I would like you to focus on the last reason!

1. Student focused. Liberal arts colleges exist to teach undergraduates and only undergrads. That’s far different from universities that are designed to focus chiefly on faculty research and graduate students. Star professors at many universities, including the Ivies, never go near undergrads.

2. Small classes. At liberal art college, students can’t hide in the back of a large lecture hall because there aren’t any. Some introductory courses might have 40 or 50 students, but most are going to be far smaller. Especially for introductory classes, universities tend to herd hundreds of undergrads into lecture halls and often let the teaching assistants deal with these students in smaller settings.

3. Great grad school preparation. It’s a fallacy that you have to attend a state flagship or Ivy to enjoy a good shot at grad school. Liberal arts schools dominate the list of the top 10 institutions that produce the most students who ultimately earn doctorates. Per capita, liberal arts colleges produce twice as many student who earn a PhD in science than other institutions. This shouldn’t be a surprise.  Liberal arts college provide the sort of research experiences that universities often reserve for grad students.

4. Employers value liberal arts. One of the missions of liberal arts colleges is to teach kids how to think, talk and write. Don’t all schools do that? Not necessarily. You can graduate from plenty of universities without writing essays or research papers. Who, after all, is going to grade 500 essays? In small class settings, liberal art students are more likely to be required to write papers, give class presentations and collaborate with their classmates and professors.

A new employer survey that the National Association of Colleges and Employers released yesterday indicates that workplaces most value these three skills that a liberal arts eduction can impart:

  • Communication skills.
  • Analytic skills.
  • Teamwork skills.

5. Price discounts. If you need financial aid, private liberal arts colleges are often more generous than state institutions, which have been spending the majority of their discretionary cash on affluent students. Rich students, however, also routinely receive a price break from most liberal arts colleges.

Based upon Lynn’s list above, you wonder how you can afford NOT to go to a liberal arts institution. A liberal arts education is well-rounded and will provide you with an investment that will last a lifetime. If it is within your budget(or even a a little bit of a stretch..), I encourage you to take a look at a liberal arts institution. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised on the cost (after factoring in financial aid) and the educational quality of the institution.

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