Liberal Arts College Graduates Feel Better Prepared Than Peers

Originally posted: November 18, 2011

WOOSTER, Ohio – Graduates of residential liberal arts colleges are more likely than their peers from private and flagship public universities to be highly satisfied with their undergraduate experience, and to feel well prepared for life and work after college, according to a national study released Tuesday.

The study was commissioned by the Annapolis Group, a consortium of 130 of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, including The College of Wooster. It was based on 2,700 telephone interviews conducted in 2002 and again in 2011.

Seventy-six percent of the liberal arts graduates gave their college experience high marks for preparing them for their first job, compared with 66 percent of flagship public university graduates. Seventy-seven percent rated their overall undergraduate experience as “excellent,” compared to 59 percent of private university graduates and 53 percent of those from flagship publics.

Liberal arts graduates were more likely than any of the other groups to report benefiting from interaction with high-quality,  teaching-oriented faculty, and having professors who challenged them academically and personally helped them meet those challenges.

They were also more likely to report participating in faculty-directed research or independent study, a proven high-impact educational practice. Fifty-six percent of liberal arts college graduates, 42 percent of private college graduates, and 35 percent of flagship public university graduates did so. One hundred percent of Wooster’s graduates participate in faculty-mentored undergraduate research.

“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, a principal of Hardwick Day and director of the study.

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