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National Survey Affirms Lifelong Value of Liberal Arts Education

A new national study finds that graduates of residential liberal arts colleges feel they are better prepared than graduates of private or public universities for their first job, post-graduate studies, and a satisfying career in a rapidly changing world.

"A liberal arts education teaches students how to learn -- and inspires them to go on learning throughout their lives," said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler.

"This study confirms the value of a liberal arts education. The skills we impart to our students: the ability to think critically, examine assumptions, and draw on knowledge across a wide range of disciplines serves them well in the lives they lead once they graduate.

"Such skills are necessary in today's world, where in 10 years from now many of our students will be holding jobs - in fact, leading the way - in fields that may not currently exist," Tiefenthaler said.

The study also found that liberal arts college graduates are more likely to give their college a high effectiveness rating for helping them learn to write and speak effectively, and are more likely to graduate in four years or less than graduates of both private and public universities.

Additional key findings include:

  • 76 percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their college experience highly for preparing them for their first job, compared to 66 percent who attended public flagship universities;
  • 89 percent of liberal arts college graduates reported finding a mentor while in college, compared to 66 percent for public flagship universities;
  • 60 percent of liberal arts college graduates said they felt "better prepared" for life after college than students who attended other colleges, compared to 34 percent who attended public flagship universities.
  • 77 percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their overall undergraduate experience as "excellent," compared to 53 percent for graduates of flagship public universities;
  • 79 percent of liberal arts college graduates report benefiting "very much" from high-quality teaching-oriented faculty, compared to 63 percent for private universities and 40 percent for alumni of flagship public universities;
  • 88 percent of liberal arts graduates said there was a sense of community among students, compared to 79 percent for private universities and 63 percent for public flagship universities.

Colorado College is a member of the Annapolis Group, a consortium of 130 leading residential liberal arts institutions. The non-profit Annapolis Group commissioned the study to determine how its graduates perceive the effectiveness of its member institutions in comparison to others. Complete results of the survey available at:

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/16/2020