3 Benefits for International Students at Liberal Arts Colleges

As a freshman at Drury University, I had no idea what being a student at a liberal arts college meant.

I thought it possibly meant taking art classes. But as I started talking to faculty and staff, I came up with a general idea of the liberal arts experience.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the idea behind a liberal arts education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest, according to the organization’s website.

A liberal arts education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings, it states.

International students may not be familiar with the term, but it’s something prospective students should be aware of as they look into attending colleges in the U.S. There are some benefits in particular that a liberal arts college could have for international students.

[Check out top liberal arts colleges in photos.]

1 . Forming relationships with professors can be easier: One advantage of a liberal arts institution is that you get to express your feelings and form relationships with faculty and staff members, and that has helped make me feel comfortable as an international student. I have been blessed to have wonderful faculty and staff at Drury — and I know other international students who feel the same way.

Liberal arts institutions tend to be small, and that typically means smaller class sizes — which often leads to more interpersonal communication between you and your professors.

The ability to express my ideas was something that I had never had an opportunity during my high school years. Most of your professors will likely be very interested in your background as an international student and talk to you about it.

[Don’t fall for these myths about U.S. colleges.]

2 . Provides opportunities to improve writing skills : English is not the first language for most international students. It is sometimes a challenge for a lot international students to improve their writing.

A liberal arts education has definitely helped me improve my English writing skills, and I’m not alone. I have heard international students talk about how the focus on writing at a liberal arts college has helped them, from writing articles for the school newspaper to writing various research papers.

[See which U.S. colleges attract the most international students.]

3. Offers an all-around education: While I was a freshman, I registered for an introductory theater class. I had no idea what to expect, as I come from an Indian culture where theater includes more dances.

When I entered the class, I found that more than 60 percent of the students were international students. As the semester went on, I became really interested in the class. I not only got to see various plays but also got to interview one of the professors as part of the class.

I have also taken other classes like graphic design, ceramics and presentational speaking. My majors have nothing to do with any of these classes, but taking them made me realize why these classes could be useful: I gained the ability to think creatively, speak openly and present professionally.

The education I had received in high school was more about learning concepts and then applying them to an exam. But being part of a liberal arts institution has allowed me to not only learn, but think logically and apply ideas in real-world situations.

A lot of students don’t really know what they want to do in college, but being part of a liberal arts institution has definitely helped me figure out what I really want to do. I knew I wanted to major in business but I did not know what to expect. But taking a class in each department helped me in figure out a general pathway to follow.

Vikas Jagwani, from the United Arab Emirates, is a sophomore at Drury University, where he majors in accounting, finance and economics.

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