Liberal Arts Colleges?!?

<p>I'm currently a junior, who's been looking at the national universities but am just starting to look at liberal arts colleges. I'm wondering: what are the benefits of going to a liberal arts college? Are they respected like their 'regular, national' universities such as Stanford, UC Berkeley - or are liberal arts colleges considered inferior?</p>

<p>I'm planning to major in Economics by the way. Any good economics programs at liberal arts colleges, and if so, which ones? (GPA: around 3.8-3.9 unweighted, 4.0-4.1 weighted; SAT: ~1500, SAT ii's: 750+ on 2, excellent EC's and excellent rec's)</p>

<p>some advantages ascribed to small liberal arts schools - smaller classes, better access to professors and advisors, intercollegiate athletics are less time-intensive. Often easier to finish in four years, for a variety of reasons, especially if a student switches majors.</p>

<p>When you make your campus visits - check out equivalent economics classes. Good comparison might be Claremont McKenna and Pomona vs. UCLA and Berkeley. See what you think. See what the students at these schools have to say.</p>

<p>There are quite a few small liberal arts schools with excellent economics departments - Williams, Carleton, Swarthmore, Claremont McKenna, Pomona, Bowdoin, Wellesley, Haverford, Macalester, Smith, Colgate and many more.</p>

<p>How is Middlebury's program for economics?</p>

<p>while not a lac, check out uchicago if you haven't already</p>

<p>Look at Johns Hopkins, Hamilton, Colgate, Williams, Amherst, Pomona, Haverford and Washington & Lee, for starters.</p>

<p>My advice is to check out the top LACs (Amherst, Williams, Midd, Swat, Pomona, etc) and Dartmouth (which is LAC-like) or even Princeton. You cant go wrong in Econ at any of these schools, they all have prestige, and best of all they all have strong communities. The well-known LACs carry weight anywhere, and often in grad schools. But LAC awareness falls quickly after the top few schools, in the real world I have noticed my Dartmouth degree gets me much more in terms of awareness than my friend who went to Haverford (who often complains that none of his employers have heard of it). </p>

<p>For the econ dept alone Hopkins and Chicago are great, but I would hardly call them fulfilling college experiences. For example the other day I looked at the alumni magazine of my roommate who went to JHU. I noticed only a couple submissions per class, which I found strange since my Dartmouth class pages are always full. His comment was "high school was for bonding, not college, so no one writes in, no one cares." Having come from a school (Dartmouth) where alums come up every year, where just having gone to the same school creates a common bond, and where people donate back in droves because they loved it so much, I totally disagreed with him.</p>



<p>A university has several different schools or "business units". Among them might be a Law School, a Medical School, an Engineering School, various graduate (PhD) schools, and an undergraduate college.</p>

<p>The LAC just has the undergraduate college without the advanced degree schools. Think of it as a "small business" offering the same product as the liberal arts college division of a larger conglomerate.</p>

<p>What is taught to undergrads at an LAC or a top university is the same thing. It's purely a function of the setting and size.</p>

<p>Advantages of the LAC: Small, tight-knit community. Exclusive focus by the administration and faculty on undergrad teaching. Small class sizes. No grad-school teaching assistants.</p>

<p>Advantages of the university: larger, often more vibrant, "college-town" community with a wider range of social options. Wider range of course offerings.</p>

<p>You really should consider (and visit) both types of schools and decide which set of pros and cons best match your expectations for college. There is no universal "better", only better "fits" for individual students.</p>

<p>The only general rule that I would suggest is that as the size of the school increases, the onus of getting individual attention from professors falls more heavily on the student's shoulders. At a small LAC, it is quite common for the "average" student to develop close relationships with some of their professors -- it's just the nature of a small campus focussed exclusively on undergrads. At larger universities, the real "go-getters" can develop these same relationships. However, the sheer size of the classes in some departments and the interest of some faculty in areas other than undergrad teaching probably reduce the opportunity for one-on-one teaching.</p>

<p>For undergrad degrees the reputation of the major is of relatively less importance in comparision to the rest of the package, by which I mean the college type (LAC, small college, large U), type of students, setting, selectivity, location, and so on. Your satisfaction with the college is going to depend much more on those factors than on whether the undergrad major is "rated" number 10 or number 100 in the country (let alone as to whether those ratings mean anything, anyway). Fact is undegrad classes generally choose from the same nationally-published textbooks for most classes, unless your prof has published a book in which case you will use that. If you're concerned will you learn more at one school over the other, the schools overall reputation for academic rigor and its selectivity is a sufficent guide, you don't need to examine specific majors.</p>