Liberal Arts Colleges
Physical Size and Enrollment
One of the main draws of liberal arts colleges is their relatively small size. Most schools have no more than 5,000 students with the average enrollment falling between 1,000 and 2,000 students. For example, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York had a total enrollment of 2,389 students in 2008. Because of the smaller number of students enrolled, liberal arts colleges also tend to be smaller in physical size, which many students who are leaving home for the first time find appealing. This small size allows faculty to work more closely with individual students.
Unlike many four-year colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges focus on awarding undergraduate degrees. The degree focus of most liberal arts colleges is on Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Most of these schools have few or no graduate programs or students. For example, Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois offers only bachelor's degree program to students.
Liberal arts colleges aim to provide their students with a liberal arts education. A liberal arts education focuses on teaching students general knowledge and developing rational thought and intellectual capabilities as opposed to training in specific skills or vocations. Many liberal arts schools require that all students, regardless of their major, take courses in religion, philosophy, literature, language, sociology, history, mathematics, and science.
Most liberal arts colleges are residential, which means that students generally live on-campus and attend school full-time. Very few part-time or commuter students attend these schools. Liberal arts colleges present young adults with the opportunity to live away from home and their parents for the first time. Additionally, because most students live on-campus, students are encouraged to form close working relationships with faculty.