Small liberal arts colleges give students the tools to become lifelong learners
Challenging discussions, thought-provoking questions, and engaged peers—does this sound like your ideal classroom? At a small liberal arts college like Shimer, this is what a regular day looks like.
Liberal arts studies have been around for centuries. In its early days, it was considered essential for those who wanted to live a free and educated life. Although it has come a long way since the Roman-Greco era, the core foundations of a liberal arts education remain the same. The liberal arts open students’ minds to new ideas, and in turn makes them more effective learners, both in the classroom and beyond.
If you’re interested in pursuing a liberal arts education, read on to discover how it fosters essential learning skills in students.
1. Small Liberal Arts Colleges Encourage Accountability
At a small liberal arts college, students delve into topics they feel passionate about. If students show up to class and fall short in their preparation, they know they are only disappointing themselves.
When Shimer alumnus Eugene Lim was asked what he liked most about Shimer’s small liberal arts college approach, he emphasized the accountability he felt towards his studies.
Eugene remembers, “The very few times that I’ve shown up at a Shimer class without having finished the reading. I’ve never felt as if I’ve needed to be afraid of telling the professor that. I say that because I know that it’s not the professor I’m failing if I perform less well than I want to at Shimer. It’s really me. I feel like I’ve gotten more responsible at Shimer.”
Rather than simply memorize information for a test, students who feel accountable for their studies take on a new ownership of what they are learning. Their self-motivation makes them more likely to come to class engaged and ready to discuss new concepts, as they truly make the most of their college education.
2. There Is Community Support at Small Liberal Arts Colleges
At small liberal arts colleges like Shimer, humanities college courses encourage open discussion and creativity. Students always have a reason to look forward to coming to campus, because of the engaging and substantial conversations they are bound to have with their peers. Former student Marielle Heidebrink says “I don’t think that the community is the reason why I came here, but it’s a big part of the reason why I stayed.”
Former Shimer Student, Ari Robbins, adds “I also love the fact that my voice is a crucial part of this community; both in the classroom and through school governance, through the assembly, and also through my extracurricular activities.”
Being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are passionate about course subject matter creates an ideal environment for learning. With a strong student community, there’s always someone to bounce ideas off of or have an enriching discussions with.
3. Humanities College Classes Ignite a Passion for Lifelong Learning
Classes in a liberal arts education cover psychology, sociology, the arts, and even philosophy and theology. All these subjects are constantly pushing a student’s mind, even after they graduate.
At Shimer College, students engage with primary texts, discuss new ideas, and are encouraged to continually seek out new information. In short, they are encouraged to become lifelong learners. Being a lifelong learner comes with many benefits, both inside and outside the classroom. It has been linked to increased career opportunities, stronger interpersonal skills, and improved mental functioning well into old age.
Former Shimer student, Allie Peluso, explains how studying at a small liberal arts college fosters lifelong learning: “What I love best is that Shimer does a good job of attracting people who are genuinely intellectually curious...” She explains “[The conversations] do continue outside of the classroom. We will all be reading together, studying together and you know you just have to make a comment, the reading group sort of turns into a mini class.”
Small liberal arts colleges allow for in-depth discussions among students
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