Increasingly over the past decade, societies have equated higher education as a means to an end – the “end” being a lucrative and stable career. While it would be hard to argue that there isn’t at least a kernel of truth to the idea that college does serve a practical purpose, higher education has long strived to offer a transformative learning experience that exposes students to novel ideas, diverse perspectives and interdisciplinary intellectual experiences. As many institutions have adapted their programs and expanded their curricula, our nation’s colleges of liberal arts and sciences have largely remained committed to the traditional ethos of stimulating the mind through broad-ranging, cross-disciplinary pursuits.
One of the most common misperceptions of Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences, better known as Liberal Arts Colleges, is that a degree from one means a life of limited career prospects! According to a 2020 study from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, however, graduates of liberal arts and sciences colleges have a 25% higher return on investment 40 years after graduation than the median gain at all other classifications of higher education.
Proponents of a liberal arts education attribute this impressive outcome to the skills and competencies best cultivated in a flexible, hands-on, engaging and highly community-oriented undergraduate experience.
You’ve probably heard of Amherst, Bowdoin, Pomona, Davidson, Carleton, Swarthmore and other highly ranked liberal arts and sciences institutions. But are there other fantastic schools worth your consideration? Absolutely!
Here are five schools you might not have heard of, but are excellent schools for you to consider:
- Beloit College, Beloit, WI. Best characterized as a place where it is truly okay to be whatever you want to be. Beloit students pride themselves on their unique and varied interests; they are also proudly accepting of others and tend to look for the best in their peers. At Beloit you will write extensively, immerse yourself in field research and become deeply involved in campus life. Recognized as a College That Changes Lives (www.ctcl.org), Beloit is a gem in a small city in southern Wisconsin.
- Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA. Once recognized in a ranking list for being the #1 school in the nation for the ease with which students develop friendships, it’s not surprising that Gettysburg alumni are known for their affinity to their alma mater. Gettysburg’s academic programs are strong across the curriculum, but they have a particularly strong reputation for Political Science, Organization & Management Studies, Economics, Health Sciences and History (of course!).
- Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA. Before transferring to Columbia, Barack Obama spent his first two years of college here! In fact, he still credits two classes from his time at Oxy as the “sparks for his general interest in politics.” Oxy students love the sunny weather, the social justice orientation of the school and the close-knit community. Extremely diverse and incredibly accepting, Occidental is a place where students can authentically be themselves. Oxy’s top majors include Diplomacy and World Affairs, Economics and Biology.
- Rhodes College, Memphis, TN. You’ll immediately feel the influence of Memphis’ history, music and food at Rhodes. Situated just east of downtown, Rhodes makes an immediate impression with its gorgeous Gothic architecture and peaceful urban campus. And you’ll be quickly impressed by the vibrant social atmosphere coupled with rigorous academics. While Rhodes is a liberal arts and sciences college with strengths in various disciplines, many students are attracted to Rhodes for its Biology and Health Professions opportunities, enhanced by the major hospitals located in the city.
- Union College, Schenectady, NY. Located in New York State’s Capital District, Union has developed a strong reputation across the country. Known for its vibrant social life, excellent athletics program and academic rigor, Union students are also noted for their commitment to social justice and community engagement. Like many liberal arts and sciences colleges, Union offers wide-ranging academic programs; however, Union is one of only a handful of LASCs that offers engineering degrees and other hyper-specific STEM and Business programs.