Considering the fact that a college education is among the largest financial commitments many people will make, for many students, enrolling in one of the best small liberal arts colleges is an excellent place to invest their time and money. Liberal arts colleges typically have 2,500 or fewer students, are dedicated to producing well-rounded graduates and are primarily devoted to the education of undergraduates. They emphasize a broad foundation in the humanities and the sciences. The liberal arts teach the critical thinking and writing skills that can lead to success in fields as diverse as medical research and museum curatorship. Class sizes are generally small. Students who thrive on personal attention from their professors, as opposed to having large lecture classes or competing with graduate students for research opportunities, will benefit from a liberal arts education. In contrast with more vocationally-oriented schools such as engineering colleges, popular majors at liberal arts colleges include English, psychology, history, foreign languages and political science.
Details of the Best Small Liberal Arts Colleges
Each small liberal arts college has its own distinct program and style. The best liberal arts colleges across the U.S. provide small student to faculty ratios and diverse learning programs. A sampling of the best small liberal arts colleges includes:
Williams College: Consistently ranked at the top of all undergraduate institutions, Williams is located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Its 2,053 students have the opportunity to participate in intimate tutorials with two students working with one professor. Williams accepts only 16 percent of applicants. Over half were valedictorian or in the top 1 percent of their high school class. Tuition at Williams is $44,660, and 53 percent of students receive need-based aid.
Knox College: Located three hours southwest of Chicago in Galesburg, Illinois, Knox was founded by social reformers. Knox prides itself on educating independent thinkers and on its culturally diverse student body. 10 percent of its 1,420 students come from nearly 50 countries. Notable Knox programs include the nation’s first Peace Corps preparatory program, admission agreements with medical school and MBA programs and a new major in neuroscience. Tuition is $36,138, with 98 percent of students receiving need-based aid from its generous financial aid program.
Reed College: With an outstanding science program among liberal arts colleges, Reed College of Portland, Oregon, boasts its own nuclear reactor run by its undergraduates. These same undergraduates are required to take intensive coursework in humanities and to complete and defend an extensive senior thesis. Reed’s well-rounded graduates are disproportionately represented in the ranks of PhDs. Annual tuition is $42,540, and 54 percent of students receive need-based financial aid.
St. John’s College Annapolis/Santa Fe: St. John’s two campuses each have fewer than 500 students. This college is most notable for its Great Books curriculum. Only one undergraduate degree, a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, is awarded. All students participate in a four-year program of small seminars in languages, political science, philosophy and literature as well mathematics and science, studied not from textbooks but from the great works of the Western canon. St. John’s has a yearly tuition of $44,554, with need-based aid awarded to 73 percent of students.
Occidental College: Located in Los Angeles, Occidental describes itself as “a place of small scale and intimate scope.” A high percentage of its 2,123 students go on to earn PhDs. Occidental’s Core Program emphasizes global literacy, writing and mathematics. Interdepartmental majors include Kinesiology and Critical Theory and Social Justice. Occidental awards need-based financial aid to 77 percent of its students against tuition of $43,490.
For a well-rounded education leading to a challenging and successful career, consider one of the Best Small Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States.