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3 Myths About Liberal Arts Colleges, Busted

So you’re interested in applying to a few liberal arts colleges, but something’s holding you back. Maybe you’ve heard some not-so-great things about them that are making you hesitate.

But what if those things aren’t actually true?

Here’s a look at a few myths out there about liberal arts schools, and why they’re basically baloney.

1. Liberal arts colleges aren’t affordable.

Most liberal arts colleges are private, so it’s easy to get sticker shock when you find out the cost of tuition. (According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ most recent data, the average cost for private, four-year colleges in the United States is $37,990 per year. This includes many liberal arts colleges.) However, a school’s price tag and what you actually pay can end up being very different numbers.

Kristen Moon, college admissions expert and owner of Moon Prep, which helps families navigate the college application process, says that on top of the potential for student loans, “many small liberal arts colleges are generous with merit-based aid. Once merit-based aid, or scholarships, is deducted,” she says, “the price of attendance might actually be less expensive than a local state college.”

2. Liberal arts colleges don’t have strong science and math programs.

The study of liberal arts most certainly includes science and math, and has in some form for ages. (A quick history lesson: In Medieval times, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy were added to what was known in the era of classical antiquity as the liberal arts curriculum, joining grammar, rhetoric, and logic.)

Recommended: What Is a Liberal Arts College?

Today, liberal arts includes natural sciences such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, botany, archaeology, zoology, geology, Earth sciences, etc., as well as mathematics, statistics and more. And at liberal arts colleges, students have the opportunity to study with true masterminds.

Moon points out that at most large universities, world-renowned professors aren’t the ones teaching freshman bio. Even at top-tier schools, “many undergrad classes are taught by the teacher’s assistants,” she says. However, “this is often not the case at liberal arts colleges.” she adds. “I have heard of students spending holidays and dinners with their professors since the relationship is so close-knit.”

The point? Students at liberal arts college tend to have better access to experts, creating the opportunity to enrich their learning, whatever the subject.

Recommended: Liberal Arts College vs. University

3. Liberal arts colleges don’t prepare you for the workforce.

Some people think a liberal arts degree is “worthless” — that’s it’s not a ticket to a meaningful career or a lucrative job, much in the way a degree in marketing or a pre-med focus tends to be.

But that’s a narrow perspective. While a professional degree from a university may prepare a student for a specialty, that focus can later become an obstacle. If you study accounting then decide you don’t want to pursue a job accounting, for example, you might find yourself feeling stuck.

However, a liberal arts education is meant to create well-rounded individuals who are practiced at critical thinking, which prepares them for any number of career paths. Liberal arts students go onto become social scientists, media professionals, designers, teachers, human resources professionals, journalists (Note: A journalism degree is not required to become a journalist), or they may work in politics, public relations, the non-profit sector, and so many other places.

Moreover, Moon suggests a liberal arts degree may actually be an asset on the job. “In the workforce,” she says, “employees must wear many hats and be adaptable, and a liberal arts-focused education can aid them in this.”

Think a liberal arts college might be right for you? Start your search here:

Explore liberal arts colleges

Author: Ali Trachta

Ali is the former Content Writer/Editor at Niche. She's a content strategist and award-winning writer, as well as a former editor at LA Weekly and NEXTpittsburgh. As a mom of one who's lived and worked all across the country, she's glad to have once again found her niche in her hometown of Pittsburgh.