The Bright Side of a Liberal Arts Education
Now that I am in college, I have pondered upon whether a liberal arts education is better than a vocational education; a topic that did not cross my mind in high school. A liberal arts curriculum includes the studies intended to primarily provide general knowledge such as language, philosophy, literature, and abstract science and to develop general intellectual capacities, such as reason and judgment, as opposed to professional or vocational skills (merriam-webster.com). As students wanting to achieve a higher education, we have to think about what we want for ourselves. Either you want to grow as an individual and obtain a major in whichever field you chose, or just learn what best interests you. People have many misconceptions toward what the liberal arts are and how they can benefit you. We often hear things like, “A liberal arts degree will not get you a real job.” or “A liberal arts degree is a luxury not a necessity.” Although this is what the majority of the people who are not aware about the actual facts say, this is not true. An examination of, The New Liberal Arts by author Sanford J. Ungar, and Are Too Many People Going to College? by author Charles Murray, will reveal to us why one gains more knowledge at a liberal arts school. Murray argues that a liberal arts education is only for the elite, but I believe that they shouldn't be the only ones to attend because my vision of a liberal arts college is one where all students come in with the appropriate amount of background knowledge in all the subject areas, where the professors go above and beyond their job description, and on where graduating students come out as well rounded individuals. Not everyone has had the opportunity or resources to gain core knowledge in their primary education. College professors need to understand that not everyone gets into college with the same level of education and college readiness. There are some students who come from public schools where they had advanced placement classes and have an idea of what college material might be. However, there are also those students who come from schools where they did not even have textbooks for students, so they had to photocopy the master textbooks in order to learn. Charles Murray, employee at the American Enterprise Institute, says in his essay, Are Too Many People Going to College?, that in order to be college ready we need to have background knowledge that will prepare us. That background knowledge is supposed to start from elementary school if possible (p.224, Murray). Some might say that if we did not have the college readiness knowledge we would not be in college in the first place. Although, to get into a University of California the colleges only look at your high school grades, it is different than actually knowing if the grades accurately reflect your knowledge about the class’ content. I believe that colleges should have more teachers that worry about what was not taught correctly in high school or even back to elementary.
Professors should be more aware of their students’ background knowledge. For example, I have a professor who is teaching us how to write well developed essays, and one of the things that I have noticed that we emphasize on is sentence structure. When I am in her class I feel like we somehow start from the beginning and learn things we have not learned before, that we should have learned in high school. We learn rhetorical strategies and implement them into our essays, which we then go over in a one on one conference. If more teachers, like my teacher, would go out of their way to try and give us all the feedback possible and make sure you understand why something is incorrect, I believe the students’ college experience would be better. This is why attending a college with liberal arts curriculum is important, one will always have to write some type of paper in ones’ career.
Liberal arts colleges...
Cited: Murray, Charles. “Are Too Many People Going to College?” They Say I Say: The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing. Ed. Graff Gerald, Birkenstein Cathy, Durst Russell. 2nd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd, 2007. 177. Print.
Ungar J. Sanford. “The New Liberal Arts.” They Say I Say: The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing. Ed. Graff Gerald, Birkenstein Cathy, Durst Russell. 2nd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd, 2007. 177. Print.
"Liberal arts." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2013.
Web. 22 February 2013.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document