10 Great Liberal Arts Colleges You Don’t Know About

by Dayspring Mattole

One of the things we talk about a lot with clients is the importance of finding colleges that will be the right social, academic, and financial fit for you. Not your teacher’s alma mater. Not the local college you visited on a 5th grade field trip. Not the big name Ivy League school or the place with your favorite football team. Each of those may end up being good options based on your academic background and your interests, but they shouldn’t be the defaults. We introduce students to great colleges and universities they might not know about that will provide an outstanding education, will meet their funding needs, and will bring a return on investment for their degree.

So, what are liberal arts colleges and why should you consider them? Let’s start by clearing up a few misconceptions. 

  1. Myth: Liberal arts colleges are just for the humanities. Yes, these schools often have a strong foundation in history and literature, but they also have outstanding STEM programs and social science majors. 
  2. Myth: Liberal arts degrees only make sense if you want to go to graduate school. Employers continue to say that they are looking for the broad learning, communication skills, and critical thinking that come from liberal arts degrees. The liberal arts curriculum is intentionally structured to allow for academic exploration, so it’s also a great option for students who are unsure about a major or career direction. General studies requirements will introduce you to a breadth of subjects in your first year, and you’ll have time to explore before declaring a major.

Liberal arts colleges and universities are rooted in a tradition of discussion-based learning, small class sizes, and a core curriculum that cuts across disciplines. Typically smaller, private institutions, these colleges offer students an opportunity to work closely with faculty and peers in a more intimate setting. 

Here are 10 great liberal arts schools that have high graduation rates, meet students’ funding needs, and offer a strong net value 10 years after graduation: 

  1. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine)

Bowdoin is the quintessential New England liberal arts college.  This small campus with a beautiful backdrop boasts majors from Africana Studies to Theater and Dance.  

  1. Colgate University (Hamilton, New York)

Colgate is a great campus that is really close to Manhattan.  It’s definitely overlooked because of its more popular New York City peers, but worth a second glance especially if you are interested in a liberal arts education.  

  1. Elon University (Elon, North Carolina)

Elon is a smaller university where you get the liberal arts feel but better weather.  This is definitely another sleeper campus that you will love once you take a look.  

  1. Haverford College (Haverford, Pennsylvania)

Haverford is a fantastic school for those interested in liberal arts majors and those five-year joint programs with other campuses.  It has a really small student body so it doesn’t feel too urban when you’re there.

  1. Saint Mary’s College of California (Moraga, California)

“Saint Mary’s is the most gorgeous campus you’ll ever see, a small school with a vibrant community dedicated to serving others.” -Nicole (St. Mary’s alumni)

  1. Gonzaga University (Spokane, Washington)

Gonzaga is another of the rare Pacific Northwest liberal arts colleges. The college’s basketball team is a frequent Sweet 16 winner, so get ready for exciting games. For those interested in the great outdoors with a medium-sized campus, take a look here!

  1. Rockhurst University (Kansas City, Missouri)

Rockhurst is a small, Jesuit liberal arts university in Kansas City. Students can take advantage of a wide range of study abroad programs in coordination with other Jesuit schools, as well as independent study abroad options. 

  1. Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)

Grinnell is another sleeper campus for those interested in a small liberal arts college in the midwest.  You’ll love it when you give it a glance.

  1. Whitworth University (Spokane, Washington)

Yes, there are two schools from Spokane on our list. We think that these west coast campuses deserve more attention. Whitworth’s campus has 200 acres of stately pines and beautiful green spaces. The university offers over 100 academic majors and programs. 

  1. Chapman University (Irvine, California)

“A school that genuinely cares about you as a student and has a ton of great resources regardless of what major you are in.  Also, it prepared me really well for grad school.” -Samantha (Chapman alumni)

Let us know what you think in the comments! If you’re starting your college search process and have more questions, contact us to schedule a consultation

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