Project Opportunity: Access to Washington's Colleges'

“I knew early on that the University of Puget Sound was a place where my opinions mattered and where I could become a leader.”

— San Nguyen
University of Puget Sound


Why Liberal Arts?

There's a common misconception that “liberal arts” are limited to the humanities. It's much more than that. A liberal arts education promotes a broad understanding of the arts and sciences, the conditions of the natural and social world, the responsibilities of citizenship, and the foundations for critical reasoning and moral choice.

A liberal arts education, whether one majors in English, physics, psychology, art, or business, is a well-rounded education that will prepare you for all aspects of life. You will learn to think critically and independently, communicate clearly, and become a problem solver — skills that are highly valued in any career. It will help you polish the skills that will allow you to continue learning, both for your career and for your own personal enrichment. A liberal arts education will help you prepare to be an active, responsible, and knowledgeable citizen and to appreciate all that life has to offer.

A liberal arts education is personal. Classes are small, and you will get to know your professors and classmates, and have the sorts of deep discussions that lead to greater understanding of the subject. Liberal arts colleges are caring learning communities where people work together and students are inspired to scholarship and leadership.

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Value of liberal arts colleges

Liberal arts colleges are learning communities where students are respected, supported, and challenged. They are smaller colleges where you're not just a number. Classes are small, so you can participate in discussions and ask questions, not just listen to a lecture in giant auditorium. Liberal arts education is about questioning, learning, and reasoning, not just regurgitation of facts. Classes are taught by professors, not teaching assistants. With a low student-to-faculty ratio, you'll know the teachers on your college campus, and they'll know you. Often students and faculty develop close relationships that last through a lifetime of scholarship and friendship.

Why does size matter? For one thing, the personal attention you will receive at a liberal arts college will help you finish in four years. Students are as likely to graduate from a private liberal arts college in four years as they are to finish in six years at a big state institution. That's a two-year head start you'll have toward a rewarding career and life. Think of the adventures you can have and the money you can earn in those two extra years!

Many students are tempted to do their first two years at a community college because it's less expensive. This can work well for students who are motivated. But beware — a shockingly low percentage of the students who enter community colleges with the intent to later transfer to a baccalaureate institution actually do so and complete a bachelor's degree. The odds that you'll earn a bachelor's degree are much higher if you start out at a four-year school. If you do consider a community college, evaluate it using the same high standards for quality that you would for a baccalaureate institution.

Funded in part by a grant from
the Ben B. Cheney Foundation
published by Independent Colleges of Washington