I’ve been thinking a lot about liberal arts lately. I’ve been thinking back to my Great Works I experience; the section of Great Works that I took last fall as part of the Honors Program sequence focused a lot on liberal arts and liberal arts colleges. And last night, my sister, a freshman in high school, was required to read a newspaper article about the liberal arts and colleges, which also got me thinking.
While I was on my college search, I seemed to be more under the impression that a liberal arts college was a small college with a small student body. I’ve since learned that while many small colleges are in fact liberal arts colleges, many are not. In fact, some larger universities are also liberal arts schools.
So what is a liberal arts education? I learned throughout my first semester at McDaniel that in a general and modern sense, being liberally educated means that you’ve been educated in a variety of academic disciplines, throughout the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, in order to advance your personal and intellectual development. (And in case you weren’t sure, the liberal arts has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative.)
Is McDaniel a liberal arts college? Absolutely! During your time at McDaniel, you’ll be expected to take courses in a variety of disciplines, and the requirements set forth by the McDaniel Plan will be your guide!
As an English major, I wasn’t initially too keen on taking classes that strayed too far from my major, like math and science. However, I’m starting to realize that my exposure to all of these disciplines has made me a deeper, more analytical and creative thinker, which has in turn made me a better and more confident student and individual. Instead of shying away from the liberal arts, I now embrace it! And even though I want to take as many cool English classes as possible during my time at McDaniel (and I still have to take enough to complete my major), I’ve become much more open to taking classes outside of my major, which is why I’ll be taking Logic and an Honors class about number theory in the spring in order to expand my horizons and my mind.
So when it comes to searching for and choosing a college, my advice is this: your academics an important part of your college experience. When researching them, don’t just zero in on your major. Take a look at the bigger picture by looking at the entire curriculum of whatever school you’re looking at. A good curriculum is a foundation for a good education, and it’s up to you to decide what sort of curriculum is best for you.