Myth: “Liberal Arts College Means I Can’t Study Science or Math”


A “liberal arts” college has several meanings.  One, liberal arts can refer to the breadth–i.e. wide range–of classes for graduation requirements the college would like students to complete.  Often, there is a “core” set of academic courses that includes English, Math, Science, Social Studies/History and Foreign Language (the specifics may vary depending on the college) that students are required to take.  Students complete these graduation requirements, also known as General Ed or GE classes, alongside with their major courses.

Two, liberal arts can refer to the teaching and learning style the college promotes.  Usually, liberal arts colleges are smaller student populations, requiring students to live on campus, sometimes with professors or other academics living “in-residence” alongside students.  Given the smaller class sizes and “neighborly” living arrangements, students and professors often learn in discussion-based, Socratic seminar-style environments.  Depending on a student’s personal learning style, these engaged classrooms may suit them.

Third, liberal arts can define a set of academic subject areas that includes the humanities, social sciences and the sciences.   Many students (and their parents) share that they only know liberal arts to mean humanities (e.g. English, Philosophy, Literature) and social sciences (e.g. History, Sociology, Education).  Take another look–call a university’s science department to know more–before deciding liberal arts doesn’t fit you.

Ask the college admissions officers at a “liberal arts” institution how s/he defines liberal arts for the specific college.  Then, you can make a more informed determination on applying or not.

For more about college selection:

How to Make the Most of A Campus Tour: Creative Marbles in Chicago

“Why Do You Want to Go to College?” Has New Meaning


About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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