Introducing American Liberal Arts Colleges

What would you say if I told you that there are colleges in the United States that you’ve never heard of, that will give you a Harvard-quality education, and will likely give you a large scholarship? What would you say if I told you there dozens of schools like this?

American Liberal Arts Colleges are the greatest piece of academia that Chinese families haven’t discovered yet. Called “LAC’s” for short, these schools only provide undergraduate educations that cover a wide variety of academic topics and requirements. They force students to develop well-rounded, multi-faceted intellectual capabilities.

Does that make them any different than undergraduate programs at national universities? No, not really. In fact, the biggest difference is simply their size. LAC’s are tiny, usually boasting student bodies with somewhere between two and three thousand students. In fact, nowadays elite American students are choosing top LAC’s like Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore and Wellesley OVER schools like Princeton and Yale. They all employ the best professors in the world – LAC’s just happen to be smaller.

The small size of LAC’s is actually one of their greatest advantages. Not only do students get the benefit of greater familiarity with their professors, thanks to 15-student classes, but they also benefit from a more close-knit student body. Because of this closeness, LAC’s tend to have much more vibrant and useful alumni networks than bigger universities. Case in point: one of China’s most active alumni networks is from Middlebury College, an LAC in Vermont with excellent international studies programs. In Shenzhen alone, there are more Middlebury graduates working together than big universities like UVA and UCLA combined. That’s a huge advantage for young graduates entering the job market.

As it turns out, those graduates go on to make a lot of money. Studies have shown the liberal arts graduates tend to make more money over the course of their careers than graduates with specialized degrees, such as engineers or accountants. Why? These students possess a well-rounded body of knowledge that lets them move more easily into senior-level management jobs. Sure they don’t make as much at first, but it definitely pays off down the road.

Guess what Chinese families usually find most attractive about LAC’s, though. Yep, you got it – big scholarships. We all know scholarships are hard to find if you’re an international student. If you need one, you might as well choose a school like Williams, Colgate, Wesleyan or Scripps, which all offer average financial aid packages greater than $30,000. In fact, across the entire board, LACs give out tons, and I mean TONS more money than non-Ivy League national universities give away.

If you’re thinking about applying to an LAC though, you really need to get a good feeling for the school, its campus, and the students who go there. Start by checking out their websites. Go to the college rankings at www.usnews.com, click on “Best Colleges” and then “Liberal Arts Colleges” for more information. If you’re planning on studying in America, you can’t afford not to look at these truly unique colleges.

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