What's a liberal arts college anyway?

Chelsea Meyer
Chelsea Meyer
November 6, 2019

What’s a liberal arts college?  What does it mean? Why are only some colleges liberal arts? Why aren’t all colleges liberal arts? Why is Augustana College a liberal arts college? 
A liberal arts education doesn't mean you take art classes all the time, nor does it have anything to do with a political party. It just means you study sciences and humanities without limiting yourself to a specific field of study based on a career goal. 
The liberal arts curriculum creates opportunities for a broad foundation of knowledge. Augustana College is unique for many reasons, but their emphasis on a liberal arts education is one of the things that sets them apart. 
If you currently attend or have attended Augustana, you know that the professors and administration take great pride in Augie being a liberal arts school. If you’re still considering coming here, you’ll figure it out quickly.
The professors emphasize it in their classes through their syllabus and assignments. The advisors emphasize it when you pick classes and discuss your future. And, the administration emphasizes it during visit days and on posters around campus.
When I picked Augustana and began classes here I didn’t understand why a liberal arts education was important. But, I soon learned that it really was important and necessary when I discovered the school’s graduation requirements meant I’d have to take classes outside of my comfort zone. 
Let me first say that I’m not someone who has ever excelled in science or arts. There isn’t a creative bone in my body. But, two of my favorite classes at Augustana have been in what I would very much consider my weak subjects. 
My outlook first changed when I took a geology class my freshman year. After I signed up for the class, I was dreading the day it would start. Trust me, I complained to my freshman year roommate nonstop.  (I am still sorry, Rosy!) 
But, after the first couple of classes, I started to enjoy it. To my surprise, I was even excited for class as the term went on. 
My interest even extended outside the required course. I started going to discussions in the geology department outside of class, and started searching for careers involving geology. But by the end of the term, I learned that even though I loved the professor and the content I learned, I had a stronger passion in a different field. 
I would have never taken that class unless I was pushed to, which is what the liberal arts curriculum does. I am grateful to have experienced that class because it influenced the way I saw science. 
I wasn’t negative towards science classes anymore. I was proud of myself for not only completing the course, but for embracing it. 
After a couple terms, I checked my graduation status realized that I’d been putting off my art perspective. It was time to take an art class, and I was dreading it. 
I was dreading it not because I don’t like art, but because I haven’t taken an art class since seventh grade and if I showed you my past artwork, it would be obvious to see that I have never ever had a natural knack for art. 
After much consideration, I picked a ceramics class to complete my art perspective. I didn’t think it would spark my interest like geology did. But I was proven wrong, again. Half way through my ceramics class, I started to think differently about art and let myself be as creative as I could be. 

Ok, so my ceramic creations aren’t pretty, but I am very proud of them. 
The class gave me the confidence I needed to try new things that had previously scared me. 
Augustana has allowed me to experience various fields of study which have helped me narrow down what I want to do. Taking a perspective my sophomore year helped lead me to discover the pre-law track that I have continued on, and I was able to do this through taking classes I normally wouldn’t have. 

A liberal arts education isn’t about the administration forcing you to take classes outside of your field instead of focusing on your future. It’s about pushing yourself academically, and having the opportunity to broaden your experiences in various fields. 

I am lucky that Augustana helped broaden my college experience and didn’t limit my academic path. 

Chelsea Meyer
Chelsea Meyer

Chelsea Meyer is a senior from Roscoe, IL. She is double majoring in Communication Studies and Multimedia Journalism & Mass Communication while on the Pre-Law track. 

On campus she's involved with Greek Council as the service chair, a member of the Delta Chi Theta Sorority, and a member of the Women’s Golf Team.