Study: Liberal Arts College Graduates Are Better Prepared for Work, Life

wesley-bikes-270Springtime near Wesley Hall's front entranceA recent study provides evidence of the direct impact and lasting value of a liberal arts education.

Compared to graduates of public and private universities, graduates of liberal arts colleges such as Albion College say in greater percentages that their experience sufficiently prepared them to land their first job, gain admission into graduate school, or generally meet life's challenges. The national study's results were released in November by the Annapolis Group, a consortium of the leading U.S. liberal arts colleges, of which Albion is a member.

"Like other liberal arts institutions, we prepare our students for graduate and professional school—and the workforce—through serious research, creative expression, scholarly inquiry, and transformative experiences," said Susan Conner, Albion College provost. "Many of them have a 'graduate school experience' at the undergraduate level."

Among the key findings by consultant Hardwick Day, which conducted the study for the Annapolis Group:

  • Seventy-six percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their college experience highly for preparing them for their first job, compared to 66 percent who attended public flagship universities;

  • Sixty percent of liberal arts college graduates said they felt “better prepared” for life after college than students who attended other colleges, compared to 34 percent who attended public flagship universities;

  • Seventy-seven percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their overall undergraduate experience as “excellent,” compared to 53 percent for graduates of flagship public universities;

  • Seventy-nine percent of liberal arts college graduates report benefiting “very much” from high-quality teaching-oriented faculty, compared to 63 percent for private universities and 40 percent for alumni of flagship public universities.

“This is valuable information for families about how well liberal arts colleges educate the whole person and the real contribution that the college experience makes to success after graduation,” said Philip A. Glotzbach, president of Skidmore College and chair of the Annapolis Group’s executive committee.

The study's findings come to life at Albion in the form of the Albion Advantage, a four-year program that guides students through all phases of their collegiate careers—from the distinctive First-Year Experience and academic major selection to research opportunities, off-campus experiences, internships, and forming a post-graduation plan.

"For decades Albion College has provided our students with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to navigate multiple career changes and to excel in their chosen profession," said Albion College President Donna Randall. "With our strategic focus on providing every student at Albion with experiential learning opportunities as part of their liberal arts education, Albion College has emerged as a leader among liberal arts institutions."

On the heels of the Annapolis Group study is a report released in January by the Social Science Research Council, which found that recent college graduates who, as seniors, scored highest on the Collegiate Learning Assessment—a standardized test measuring thinking, reasoning, and writing, skills most associated with a liberal arts education—were much more likely to be better off financially than those who scored lowest.

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