My son Ben’s best friend just returned from a tour of some liberal arts colleges that I suggested he visit in the Midwest.
Nathan visited Carleton, Grinnell and Macalester colleges and I’m sure that any one of these schools would be thrilled to welcome him as a freshman next fall. Nathan is slated to be his high school’s valadictorian, his SAT scores are stellar and, if that weren’t enough, he’s also African American.
Nathan mentioned to me the other day that he’s received unsolicited marketing material from all eight Ivy League schools, but he’s most intrigued by the prospects of attending a liberal arts college. (I confess that he’s listened to me yammer on about the beauty of liberal arts colleges for years.)
You don’t often hear brilliant students, who are getting courted by the Ivy League, talk enthusiastically about little schools in Iowa and Minnesota. I believe that one reason for this is because so few students or parents understand the wonders of liberal arts colleges, where only 3% of students attend.
Here are just a few of the reasons why teenagers should consider a liberal arts college:
Student focused. The rap against universities is that too many professors are more interested in research than their students. At liberal arts colleges, professors aren’t distracted by graduate students because there usually aren’t any. The focus of professors is teaching undergrads.
Small class sizes. Students who attend liberal arts schools aren’t going to be stuck in large lecture halls. These classes are small enough that the professors will get to know all their students.
Excellent preparation for grad school. These small schools can prepare students well for grad school. That makes sense since students have so many opportunities to work closely with their professors. On a per capita basis, liberal arts colleges produce twice as many students who earn a PhD in science than other institutions.