-By Lillian Bijl, junior
After spending a wonderful semester studying abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland last fall, I realized the true value of a liberal arts education from High Point University.
Over the past three years as an HPU student, I have been exposed to a myriad of subjects, philosophies, cultures, and histories. I feel well-versed on a host of topics and skilled in many different areas. While abroad, however, I noticed that my peers from other countries often only had exposure in their specific academic field. And while I recognize the importance of specialization, here are five significant ways a liberal arts education makes your degree that much more beneficial.
1. Flexibility in a degree – When you study liberal arts at High Point University, you have more flexibility to craft a degree that is both catered to your interests and relevant to the job market when you graduate. For example, my major is international relations, but I also have minors in Spanish, global commerce, and communications. Thanks to the outstanding advising faculty at HPU, I’m able to study everything that interests me while also gaining real skills (like how to write strategically, transform data into reports, or design a website) that I can use when I join the world of staff meetings and 401ks.
2. Powers of synthesis – When you’re taking classes across a variety of subjects, you begin to see how truly interrelated the world is. I see connections all the time, whether it’s a literary theme that we discuss in Spanish that crops up in my acting class, or a sociological theory that’s discussed in both a communications and a human relations course. By actively engaging in each different class and drawing on the things you’ve learned in other lessons, you’ll be able to synthesize the information you’re learning and see the big, interconnected picture.
3. Small class sizes – Typically, liberal arts institutions have a small, cohesive community. Here at HPU, we have the opportunity to take classes with educators who are genuinely interested in helping our minds come alive both inside and outside of the classroom. Because of our small class sizes and the 15:1 student teacher ratio, we get to engage in topics and discuss them more deeply than if we were sitting in an auditorium with 300 of our fellow classmates.
4. Multiple skill sets – Knowing not only how to function but how to excel in many career paths is an attractive and almost vital quality for any job candidate in today’s economy, but especially for recent graduates. Our generation needs to be adaptable and I feel that my classes at HPU have prepared me to deliver meaningful and well-executed results on almost any project my future employer gives me. In particular, my Research Methods class has equipped me with in-depth critical and analytical skills which are desired qualities in candidates across a variety of career fields.
5. Experiences in Art – Finally, studying liberal arts really emphasizes the importance of art in everyday life. Even if your best attempt at a Picasso is akin to your 7-year-old sister’s doodle, taking classes in the arts opens your mind and stretches your imagination further than you thought possible. Whether it’s through performance, creation, or appreciation, the “arts” component of a liberal arts education taps into the creative energy in everyone and challenges how you view the world around you. Innovation stands at the intersection of science and creativity, and with a liberal arts degree from High Point University, you’re ready to do extraordinary things when you come to that intersection.
When you choose liberal arts at High Point University, you’re choosing to an education that’s going to broaden your world views, make you ask the big questions, and teach you how to excel long after you walk across the stage on Commencement Day.
Lillian Bijl is an honors student and international relations major at High Point University. She is pursuing her dream of working in the field of communications as a content creator by writing for the Office of Communications at HPU.