Are you considering studying liberal arts in college? This type of education centers on learning a range of different artistic trades, from history and literature to philosophy and psychology.
While most colleges will include liberal arts programs in their offerings, not all of these programs are created equal. To choose the right one, there are a few personal considerations to keep in mind.
Today, we’re sharing the program features to prioritize and how to find that perfect fit.
Understand the Degrees Offered
As you begin researching different liberal arts colleges, pay close attention to the type of diploma you’ll receive when your coursework is complete.
Will you receive a bachelor degree? Or, will it be a technical certification? How long do you need to attend the school to receive these credentials?
The answer to these questions can help you understand how your studies will fit into your future professional career. Whether you’ve always known what you wanted to do or you’re still figuring it out, you want to make sure that your work will count.
If you’re striving to land a leadership position at an arts agency or advertising team, then you might need a bachelor’s degree to do so. Otherwise, a two-year degree or professional certificate might be all that you need to get started at your dream job. Keep in mind that there are some liberal arts programs (such as religious studies) that are typically only offered in two-year increments, regardless of where you enroll.
Research Specific Classes Available
Once you’ve made sure that the program you’re eyeing will culminate in the right degree, it’s time to dig into the specifics! Go to the school’s website and find the page for the program.
From there, you should be able to navigate to the specific classes available within this educational tract. While they are subject to change from one semester to the next, it’s helpful to see what’s currently being offered.
Do these classes sound like something you’d be interested in? Or, do the descriptions leave you shaking your head and raising your eyebrows?
A liberal arts degree might sound exciting at first, but it’s important to understand what it actually entails. If you’re willing to attend an early-morning humanities course with excitement, then this could be the program for you! However, if subjects like theatre, sociology, and anthropology don’t pique your interest, then it might be time to look into other studies beyond this major.
Analyze Professor Experience
While you’re looking into the different liberal arts courses offered at each school, take the time to learn as much as possible about the instructors and professors who work in the department.
Do they have a credible background in the subject they teach? Have they worked in the field before, or published articles in reputable, peer-reviewed industry journals?
Some departments will offer a large list of permanent and visiting professors, while some will only have a handful. While a larger faculty doesn’t necessarily mean the program is better, it could give you access to a more extensive range of classes.
Find the Location
Another aspect to consider before enrolling in a liberal arts program? Think about how far away the college or university is from your home.
Are you willing to move out of state to pursue the school of your dreams? Or, do you have personal or professional obligations that are keeping you close?
In addition to far-away academic institutions, don’t forget to research nearby community colleges. Many times, these will offer extensive liberal arts programs that are ideal for students who want or need to stay close to home.
Look for Internship Opportunities
Ideally, the program you enroll in will also allow you to connect with local businesses and agencies in your area. This way, you can earn valuable internship or apprenticeship opportunities as you complete your studies.
These connections can provide you with incredible work experience and give you the opportunity to make sure this is the right field for you. While most positions are unpaid, you might be able to find some paid jobs to help supplement your income.
If you can’t find information on internships through the program’s website, then reach out to the head of the department to learn more. In the conversation, you can also ask about any other specialized outreach opportunities the college offers, such as study abroad programs and exchange programs.
Understand School and Class Size
When it comes to liberal arts colleges, size parameters tend to be inconsistent. There are some smaller institutions designed solely for liberal arts studies, where every student in each class is working toward a similar goal.
Then, there are large universities that offer liberal arts programs as a smaller subset of their greater course offerings. One isn’t better than the other, but keep your personality and preferences in mind. If you prefer smaller class sizes with more one-on-one professor interaction, then look for a college that isn’t too big.
Most of the time, you can find information on total student and program enrollment on the program’s website. Remember that if the college is super small, then it might not have certain extracurriculars, such as athletic teams. If those elements are important to you, then check the details as you research.
Navigate the Different Liberal Arts Programs Available
A liberal arts education can be rich and rewarding, opening the doors to many different professional opportunities. As you research the institution that’s right for you, keep the above factors in mind.
Liberal arts programs vary in terms of class size, location, professor experience, and specific courses offered. By understanding all of your options, you can make an informed decision for your future.
Looking for more advice as you navigate the education field? Check out the rest of our informative guides!