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Karl Cassel

Elizabeth Urbanek

The Great Conversation

6 November 2013

Education For The Future

The majority of the adolescent population in America prepares, for many years, to enter

into college and obtain a degree, which will propel them into their future line of work. The

Current Population Survey of the United States of 2012 recorded that 66.2% of high school

graduates went on to pursue further education (U.S. Bureau). With this incredible amount of

graduating students and the vast diversity between backgrounds, upbringing, and culture, there

must be differences in the options for college. Perhaps the two largest branches of college

education are public universities and liberal arts colleges. With education as the ultimate goal,

those in search of schooling must choose between the two main options, taking into account the

benefits and struggles of their decision.

Strong advocates for both of these schooling options exist and have evidence to support

those opinions. A large number of these people support the public university route for college

due to the specified fields of study and, thought to be, greater exposure to the nature of real life.

Though this type of schooling has proven to be successful for a vast number of graduates, the

latter must also be considered. Liberal Arts schooling, specifically Christian Liberal Arts

schooling, is a form of education that the church has believed to be the most significant and

where the Christian viewpoint can and must make its impact throughout history and in our

society today (Ditmanson 3). The worldview, varied academics, and religious nature taught and
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learned at various liberal arts schools better equip students to adapt to the world beyond college

and achieve success in many areas well into the future.

First off, let us celebrate the fact that all those attending these two types of schools are in

search of the same thingeducation. Now, there are different roads one can take to achieve this,

the first being a state university. Giant campuses with massive buildings sprouting everywhere,

stadiums and lecture halls bigger than professional arenas, and of course, swarms of students

everywhere are all parts of this state school experience. Due to the Morrill Land-Grant Acts of

1862, each state was given 30,000 acres of federal land to use for universities and colleges.

Every state in the United States contains at least one state university because of these acts. With

this availability brings into the picture the opportunity to attend a state university within ones

own state, thus reducing tuition price (College Bound). This type of school is designed to

accommodate students that want to pursue a specific major or area of learning (OBrien).

Professors are evaluated on the quantity and quality of education they provide while they

continue their research and study in their specific field, making the classroom slightly less of a

priority compared to research (College Bound). Often this research takes a higher priority than

teaching the undergraduates because they are paid more to do their research. Most of the larger

state universities are very well recognized on the undergraduate schooling spectrum making

degrees from these schools stand out a bit more, backed by a larger testimony of credibility to the

respected school.

Next, consider the liberal arts colleges that are springing up all over the country. This

approach to education takes the smaller school approach with a more personable and rounded

experience. Students are placed onto a smaller, less populated campus and participate in a wide

range of academic classes. Some of these schools have religious affiliations, foundations, or
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denominations associated with them. The idea of liberal arts is to produce a well-rounded student

with a firm foundation in multiple aspects of education on top of their specific major. With

education in mind, each type of school allows for growth and valuable life experience (Winter 1).

While the state university offers a more intense study of a subject and perhaps better

research equipment and technology, the liberal arts college creates a student that is well educated

in multiple parts of academics. There is more to education and life than the one subject someone

at a state school is studying. While that subject may be all that is necessary and all that allows

them to go into great detail with their research, it does not assure that that student will be able to

get a job with that degree. In contrast, liberal arts colleges prepare students for life after college

and give them life skills that are applicable in many areas of life. This way, if work does not

seem available, ones interests change, or any number of situations arise, people with a liberal

arts education are equipped to adjust and succeed in slightly different environments. A study was

conducted with the Ivy College class of 1964, to determine the preparedness and significance of

a liberal arts education in students adult lives (Winter 88). Within the study one third of the class

was tested in four areas including liberal arts competence, social class, SAT scores and honors,

and current life situation (Winter 99). The results showed that in both men and women there was

clear evidence that the four measures of liberal arts competence [were] significant and

important in the post college worlds of working and living (Winter 117).

The state university does an incredible job of exposing students to a wide diversity of

backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs due to the sheer number of undergraduates (OBrien). This

can create a very well developed view of society and the world, but it may also pose problems

for those who are not prepared for the possibly extreme exposure to unfamiliar experiences. The

magnitude and diversity can be a shock to those who have not been challenged by someone in
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the area of religion, academics, or morals and can often lead to failures and breakdowns. The

worldly experiences that state school attendees are challenged with are valuable to life on ones

own after college, however, it is more valuable to be part of a body of students that share a

cohesive understanding of Christ, and are willing to battle against the secularization of life, as

is the case in many Christian liberal arts colleges (Ditmanson 32). There is strength behind a

true community of scholars with a common mission, and a learning that is integrated within the

context of a Christian outlook on life which is not found at many public universities (Ditmanson


In addition, the personable relationships with professors and genuine community of a

smaller Christian liberal arts school are of great importance as well (College Bound). Having

time to approach the professor and get personal attention with school or life is extremely

valuable to the development of educational skills as well as mentoring wisdom that can come

through relationships. People will always be in community with one another, which is why being

part of a smaller, more personable community has such great significance. Skills of how to work

as a team and use peoples talents are immensely important in life after college. It is hard to deny

the reputations and achievements of some of the larger; more recognized states schools, yet it is

still impressive to graduate schools and work places to see students with Christian liberal arts

degrees. This is because of the graduates diverse knowledge of different areas of study on top of

their specific degree. Also, it would be much more natural to think of state universities sending

their students to graduate school, however, this is also a large theme among the Christian liberal

arts community as well.

There is a great deal for one to personally reflect regarding schooling and the experiences

within. Though I have never attended a state school myself, I have visited a number of them and
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have many close friends that currently attend them. These institutions are readily educating

students and producing well-equipped graduates to affect the world. While a state school

succeeds greatly in manufacturing mass quantities of great students, a Christian liberal arts

school produces fewer students with the same quality, but in turn, provides an education that

allows students to create a more rounded worldview, value their experience, and learn good life

skills. As I attended a fairly large private Christian high school, I was able to be a part of a

unique community that I feel again I am also part of now at Gordon College. Possibly the

greatest difference, and most significant, is the spiritual aspect that is present at many Christian

liberal arts colleges. There is an incredible amount to be learned and experienced at a state

school, yet, as a Christian, it is not nearly as significant without the encouragement through faith

to strive for what is good. Having religion as a schools foundation creates a common ground for

people to excel and work together in community for the betterment of society, as well as their


To conclude, attending and graduating from a state school is an incredible honor and

accomplishment, bearing many skills and an intense knowledge of ones area of study. There are

many great aspects to be had at a Christian liberal arts college as well, preparing one in many

aspects of their life. To be in community with believers, as one body, working for the same cause

is not something to be taken lightly or taken for granted. This aspect sets apart Christian liberal

arts schools from the rest. The goal of the liberal arts approach to learning is to find its place

where it can make a contribution impossible in any other kind of higher education (Ditmanson

32). Education will always be desired, but the route one chooses to attain that education is full of

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Works Cited
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College Bound. "Differences Between Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges." Differences

Between Public and Private Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. College Bound

Network, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.

Ditmanson, Harold H. Christian Faith and the Liberal Arts. Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House,

1960. Print.

O'Brien, Claudia M. "Small vs. Large Public Universities." CollegeXpress. N.p., n.d. Web. 05

Nov. 2013.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2012 High School

Graduates." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 Apr.

2013. Web. 07 Nov. 2013.

Winter, David G., David C. McClelland, and Abigail J. Stewart. A New Case for the Liberal Arts.

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1981. Print.