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Why You Should Consider Both Liberal Arts Colleges and National Universities

Experts often recommend that applicants consider applying to a list of safety, target, and dream schools. Doing so allows applicants to have a strategy for admission.

“A strategically constructed school list weighs your desire to attend reach schools—the institutions you dream about going to—along with safety schools where you’re very likely to secure admission,” Timothy Peck, of collegevine, writes. “Consequently, the ideal school list is balanced between reach, target, and safety schools, allowing you to shoot for the stars while also ensuring admission into at least one school.”

But what about considering different types of colleges? Illana Kowarski, a reporter at U.S. News, recently delve into why considering both liberal arts colleges and national universities might make for a competitive admissions strategy.


“National Universities,” according to U.S. News, are defined as “research-oriented academic institutions that offer a broad array of college majors and grant master’s and doctoral degrees.”

On the other hand, “National Liberal Arts Colleges” are defined as institutions that “prioritize undergraduate education where the majority of graduates earn degrees in the liberal arts, which includes classical academic disciplines such as biology, history, mathematics or philosophy.”

Due to the competitive nature of college admissions, experts say it’s a good idea for applicants to apply to both types of schools—especially if they hope to land strong financial aid and scholarship offers.

“I do think that the liberal arts colleges sometimes are overlooked by students especially for financial reasons, and I think that’s a mistake, because so many really strong small liberal arts colleges can provide great financial packages,” Teddy Barnes, president and co-founder of EssayDog, which provides online writing support for college and graduate school application essays, tells U.S. News.


Regardless of whether you’re applying to a liberal arts school or national university, experts stress the importance of considering your fit.

“Many students could do well at either a liberal arts school or a national university, but students should make sure that every school they are applying to is a good fit – academically, socially and financially,” Alisha Couch, a college admissions counselor at IvyWise and former director of admission at Ohio Wesleyan University, tells U.S. News.

At the end of the day, experts say fit is a much more important factor than prestige.

“I’m often concerned by students applying to universities just because of name recognition and prestige,” Couch says. “Students need to ‘try on’ colleges to see if they have the certain ‘look and feel.’ Just like people, colleges and universities have different personalities. Not all national universities feel the same or will be the best fit for a student, and the same goes for liberal arts schools.”

Sources: U.S. News, collegevine

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