Last Updated: August 23, 2021
Cost of Education - Liberal Arts
It is a common belief that specific skills in the field of science, technology, and engineering are the only degrees that will garner students a stable career and a high income. STEM degrees, which include science, technology, and engineering, have grown in popularity among students. One might assume that pursuing a career in the liberal arts is a waste of time and money. However, liberal arts programs offer students incredible education and strong career prospects. Employers believe that a candidate’s capability for critical thinking, analyzing, communicating, and solving complex issues is more important than their undergraduate major. Liberal Arts teach students to think critically, logically, and innovatively. These skills, rather than any specific degree, are the most important to employers of any firm.
Getting into the top colleges for pursuing a liberal arts degree may seem less affordable. But one should keep in mind the benefits of receiving high-quality education from such institutes. Moreover, many public or private colleges provide several scholarship packages to make learning more affordable.
Choosing the Best Liberal Arts College
Choosing an institute of higher learning which is best for one's career is worth considering. To pursue a dream career, students must take time to carefully explore and research various factors when selecting a suitable college.
First of all, aspects like the college atmosphere, campus size, possible religious denomination, the diversity in various communities among students, facilities provided for disabled students, extracurricular activities, accreditation, etc., should be taken into consideration. However, the location of the college is a prime factor here. Students must decide their preference to study in an in-state or out-of-state- college, how near or far the institute should be from home, the safety of the locality and surrounding areas, etc.
Furthermore, the affordability of various aspects like education, food, transportation, lodging facilities within or outside campus, healthcare, and miscellaneous items, should be taken care of. The placement of a college is extremely important here, as the cost of living varies from state to state. Along with tuition costs (for both in-state and out-of-state students), students should check if the college provides adequate options for a health insurance plan, financial aid, scholarship, loans, and a lot more. It must also be ensured if the institute has updated libraries and resources for research if the equipment they own for various areas of study are advanced, and if the facilities provided within the campus are worth the money.
Finally, and most importantly, the quality of education should never be compromised. One should make sure that the institute keeps faculty members with the required qualification and expertise. The student-faculty ratio should also be apt as this promotes effective teaching and learning. The campus should also offer placements, internships, or work-study opportunities to students. Students should research the various majors and its descriptions provided by the college, thereby, helping students to have a choice to put together the most appropriate curriculum for themselves.
Programs for Liberal Arts and Sciences
Best Value Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States
Graduating from the best liberal arts college may seem expensive when considering the tuition fee, which is mostly higher than the national average. But keeping in mind the quality of education, and the exceptional academic facilities, and adequate scholarship programs provided by these institutions, it is all worth the money.
Listed below are some of the best Liberal Arts colleges based on educational quality, and affordability in the United States of America:
- Williams College: Situated in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College has been ranked as the best liberal arts college and best value school by USNews in 2021. It is acclaimed for its quality coursework and excellent faculty. It was established in the year 1793 as a private college for men and later became coeducational in the year 1970. The college provides an extensive course of study that includes three major academic divisions, namely, languages and the arts, social sciences, and science and mathematics.
- Pomona College: One of the oldest private liberal arts colleges in the country, Pomona college is well-known for its high-quality liberal arts education. They are known for the availability of the best majors and the latest topics, along with an outstanding faculty. It is situated in Claremont, in the state of California, and was established in the year 1887. It has been ranked fourth as the best liberal arts college, and second as the best value school by USNews, in 2021.
- Amherst College: Amherst College is another private liberal arts college located in the state of Massachusetts. It is also the third oldest college that was established in the year 1821. It is an esteemed undergraduate institution known for more than 40 majors in liberal studies, where students have the freedom to design a curriculum best suited to them. It ranks second as the best liberal arts college nationally, and third as the best value school according to USNews in 2021
- Swarthmore College: Situated in the keystone state, Pennsylvania, Swarthmore college was established in the year 1864. This private liberal arts college is known for its excellent learning environment and high-quality education, as they offer more than 600 courses (along with an engineering program), and have some of the best faculty in the country. It has been ranked third as the best liberal arts college, and fourth as the best value school by USNews in 2021.
Other valuable liberal arts colleges include Principia College, Soka University of America, Grinnell College, Smith College, Colby College, Davidson College, and so on.
Scholarships and Financial Aid for Students
Based on several categorical aspects such as academic merit and monetary needs, various scholarship programs and grants are made available to assist students concerning their requirements. Most grants are provided by the Federal and the State government considering specific requirements. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is to be filled by students before applying for any kind of financial aid. To make education in liberal arts more affordable, there are various grants and scholarships available for students.
- Federal Pell Grant: Undergraduate students (enrolled on a full-time or part-time basis) who demonstrate exceptional monetary need and have not secured a bachelor's, graduate, or any professional degree are eligible for this grant. US citizenship is mandatory. The maximum amount for the grant, in the year 2021, is around $6,500. The amount is likely to increase if the candidate's parent or guardian was either a public safety officer and expired in the line of duty, or a part of the US military and died during service in countries like Afghanistan or Iraq.
- AFSCME/UNCF Union Scholars Program: This is a scholarship program provided by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in association with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). This is to assist second-year students belonging to any one of the following races, namely, African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian Pacific Islander, American-Indian/Alaska Native. The candidate is also supposed to be a citizen of the USA, secure and maintain a GPA of 2.5, and have a major in subjects under liberal arts, natural sciences, and humanities. The award amount is $5000.
- Beinecke Scholarship: This is a scholarship program to assist students who display exceptional academic merit and financial need. This is for students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in liberal arts and humanities (barring students pursuing business, law, neuroscience, and social work), and who also seek to go for a graduate program or a doctorate in the future. The award amount is $4000.