Life After College: Liberal Arts College Grads Feel Better Prepared Says New Study

By Sam Coren Staff

liberal arts degree life after collegeYou’ve heard the stereotypes. The bad college advice about avoiding Liberal Arts schools because their graduates are destined to sling coffee or wait tables for a living and regret their college choice. But guess what? A new national study is about to blow all those lame myths about life after college for Liberal Arts grads right out of the water.

The Value and Impact of the College Experience: A Comparative Alumni Study for the Annapolis Group conducted by the independent educational consultancy firm Hardwick Day surveyed 2,700 students from liberal arts colleges, private universities, and state flagship universities. Initial surveys were conducted in 2002 and the group was surveyed again in 2011 for comparative analysis. 

The survey was commissioned by The Annapolis Group, a non-profit alliance of 130 residential liberal arts colleges, to assess how liberal arts graduates perceive the quality and effectiveness of their education in comparison to others. “On virtually all measures known to contribute to positive outcomes, graduates of liberal arts colleges rate their experience more highly than do graduates of private or public universities,” said James H. Day, director of the study at Hardwick Day.

Here are some of the study’s key findings:

  • 76% of liberal arts college graduates rated their college experience highly for preparing them for their first job, compared to 66% who attended public flagship universities.
  • 89% of liberal arts college graduates reported finding a mentor while in college, compared to 66% for public flagship universities;
  • 60% of liberal arts college graduates said they felt “better prepared” for life after college than students who attended other colleges, compared to 34% who attended public flagship universities.
  • Liberal arts college graduates are more likely to graduate in 4 years or fewer, giving them a head start on their careers.

The survey also found that Liberal Arts college grads were more likely than private and public university grads to experience the following during their college careers:

  • Felt challenged by professors academically
  • Participated in faculty-directed research or independent study
  • Engaged in conversations with professors outside of class
  • Participated in service-learning or community service
  • Been involved in an extracurricular activity.

To view full study visit

Photo:  Sewanee: The University of the South