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pinepine
03-06-2011, 02:36 PM
Hi all! My first post! :D

I have been looking through the rankings of LACs. So the best LACs are Williams and Amherst, right? But I get confused as other Ivy League schools offers liberal art courses too, like Yale College and Harvard Liberal Arts college. Are their liberal art courses reputable? (Since they're not even in the top 40+ rankings) And are these considering undergraduate courses at all? It's utterly confusing as their FAQs don't give me a full idea of their programs.

And NYU, Georgetown, Eugene Lang and Duke, are their liberal art courses reputable as well?

And for Eugene Lang, can I take an cross-discipline course in design in Parsons?


Please help me!!! Thanks guys! :)

Run
03-07-2011, 01:20 AM
Hi all! My first post! :D

I have been looking through the rankings of LACs. So the best LACs are Williams and Amherst, right? But I get confused as other Ivy League schools offers liberal art courses too, like Yale College and Harvard Liberal Arts college. Are their liberal art courses reputable? (Since they're not even in the top 40+ rankings) And are these considering undergraduate courses at all? It's utterly confusing as their FAQs don't give me a full idea of their programs.

And NYU, Georgetown, Eugene Lang and Duke, are their liberal art courses reputable as well?

And for Eugene Lang, can I take an cross-discipline course in design in Parsons?


Please help me!!! Thanks guys! :)

Liberal arts does not refer to certain courses. Rather, it's the style of learning. In an LAC, students are expected to take a wide range of classes regardless of their major. For example, even if you are an Economics, Biology or Music major, you would have to take classes in the natural sciences or in the humanities. As for Williams and Amherst, I think it's because of their size and their focus on teaching rather than research that they get ranked separately from the large research universities. Both of them are definitely reputable; many of their undergraduates go on to top-ranking graduate programs. As for NYU, Georgetown and Duke (I especially like Duke heh, though I'm not studying there now), I'd say that they offer high-quality teaching and a good learning environment as well. They're all pretty competitive.

I'm not too sure about Eugene Lang, maybe you would want to check out their website and/or send them an email to ask. You'd get more accurate answers.

:)

pinepine
03-07-2011, 12:56 PM
Liberal arts does not refer to certain courses. Rather, it's the style of learning. In an LAC, students are expected to take a wide range of classes regardless of their major. For example, even if you are an Economics, Biology or Music major, you would have to take classes in the natural sciences or in the humanities. As for Williams and Amherst, I think it's because of their size and their focus on teaching rather than research that they get ranked separately from the large research universities. Both of them are definitely reputable; many of their undergraduates go on to top-ranking graduate programs. As for NYU, Georgetown and Duke (I especially like Duke heh, though I'm not studying there now), I'd say that they offer high-quality teaching and a good learning environment as well. They're all pretty competitive.

I'm not too sure about Eugene Lang, maybe you would want to check out their website and/or send them an email to ask. You'd get more accurate answers.

:)

Thank you so much for clarifying! So the whole course is basically interdisciplinary... which is not unlike the USP program offered in NUS I suppose?

Also, if I use the Common Application online system, my $65 application fee to Williams will be for that one college only, right? So if I apply to Yale and Amherst I will have to pay each institution's individual fees as well?

Lastly, are there any non-profit organisations that help prospective students apply for US schools? I rmbed one I read/saw somewhere yet I can't yield any results from my google search! :D

Run
03-07-2011, 01:21 PM
Thank you so much for clarifying! So the whole course is basically interdisciplinary... which is not unlike the USP program offered in NUS I suppose?

Also, if I use the Common Application online system, my $65 application fee to Williams will be for that one college only, right? So if I apply to Yale and Amherst I will have to pay each institution's individual fees as well?

Lastly, are there any non-profit organisations that help prospective students apply for US schools? I rmbed one I read/saw somewhere yet I can't yield any results from my google search!

Yes, the USP is similar to a liberal arts program I think.

Yes, it'll only be for Williams. That's why US applications are so expensive :(

Hmm, I haven't heard of any. Maybe someone else can shed some light on this.

:)

pinepine
03-08-2011, 06:56 PM
I think I'll email Eugene Lang and ask. Thanks a lot Run! I think I may also consider Duke as well. So I should apply to Trinity College right?

If you don't mind me asking, which instuition are you studying in now? :)

DukeBlue
03-08-2011, 09:05 PM
Hi Pinepine,

Yes Duke's a good school - it consistently ranks higher than half of the Ivy Leage. Then again I'm totally biased since I went there =) And yes if you want to do libarts you should be applying to Trinity rather than Pratt (Duke's school of engineering).

An LAC has no graduate schools - i.e. no PhD programs, no Masters. All their professors are there to teach. In contrast, a full-fledged University has an undergrad college and all the graduate schools. So for example Duke has a Med school, a Public Policy school, an Engineering School, etc. So most professors are there to do research as well as teach.

One advantage of a University is that the excellent graduate programs have a trickle-over effect into the undegraduate classes. For example, Duke has one of the top 3 medical schools in the US (remember Med is a postgrad degree in the US), so it has excellent pre-med courses for undergrads who want to go on to do med. Another example: Duke's Engineering school has great resources (labs doing pioneering work on ultra-strong carbon nanotubes, as well as invisibility cloaks made of metamaterials), so engineering undergrads get interesting opportunities there too.

However, if you're interested in studying pure sciences (vs. applied sciences), or social sciences and/or the humanities, the LACs offer great teaching attention. And of course LACs are a lot smaller (<2000 people) so it's cosier.

pinepine
03-09-2011, 01:43 AM
No wonder your username's DukeBlue haha! Thank you very much for the insight! So there's two types of liberal arts education. One in a small liberal arts college and the other a college division in a big university, I see.

Thanks again DukeBlue! :)

Run
03-09-2011, 04:44 AM
Hi Pinepine,

Yes Duke's a good school - it consistently ranks higher than half of the Ivy Leage. Then again I'm totally biased since I went there =) And yes if you want to do libarts you should be applying to Trinity rather than Pratt (Duke's school of engineering).

An LAC has no graduate schools - i.e. no PhD programs, no Masters. All their professors are there to teach. In contrast, a full-fledged University has an undergrad college and all the graduate schools. So for example Duke has a Med school, a Public Policy school, an Engineering School, etc. So most professors are there to do research as well as teach.

One advantage of a University is that the excellent graduate programs have a trickle-over effect into the undegraduate classes. For example, Duke has one of the top 3 medical schools in the US (remember Med is a postgrad degree in the US), so it has excellent pre-med courses for undergrads who want to go on to do med. Another example: Duke's Engineering school has great resources (labs doing pioneering work on ultra-strong carbon nanotubes, as well as invisibility cloaks made of metamaterials), so engineering undergrads get interesting opportunities there too.

However, if you're interested in studying pure sciences (vs. applied sciences), or social sciences and/or the humanities, the LACs offer great teaching attention. And of course LACs are a lot smaller (<2000 people) so it's cosier.

Agreed. Just to add, while LACs may offer greater teaching attention and smaller class sizes, studying at a larger university (e.g. Duke, Northwestern, Chicago, Cornell, HYP) may offer a greater variety of courses. They may also allow you to double (or even triple) major in very different fields, such as in Anthropology and Computer Science, Or Music and Finance etc.

:)

pinepine
03-10-2011, 06:55 PM
Thanks so much for the answers guys!

I guess the best choice for me is probably an university since I like the idea of more course choices.

Have a great day! :)

Run
03-11-2011, 11:24 AM
You're welcome :)

I forgot to add, some LACs have arrangements allowing students to take the classes that they don't offer at other colleges. For example, Harvey Mudd college, an LAC better known for its science and engineering courses allow students to take classes in Claremont McKenna College. Both colleges are part of the "Claremont Colleges" group. So, you still get great academic attention, but with greater choice of courses. Also, if you're looking for research opportunities, larger research universities often open applications for research positions to students of other colleges. So, by studying at an LAC, you're not necessarily cutting yourself off from the opportunities and advantages that a larger university has to offer. If you prefer a cosier and smaller school, you should definitely consider studying at an LAC.

Do feel free to ask if you've anymore questions.

LockT31W
03-11-2011, 11:55 AM
Thanks so much for the answers guys!

I guess the best choice for me is probably an university since I like the idea of more course choices.

Have a great day! :)

You're not going to be adversely affected by any difference in range of course choices. By and large, undergraduates rarely want to attend law courses or med courses unless they're heading in that direction. But if you wanted to do med/law, you might as well stay in Singapore.

pinepine
03-11-2011, 12:56 PM
I'm not intending to take med or law. At all. LOL

My main concern is that the school must offer Gender Studies and Art History/Visual Studies. Other modules that I'm interested in includes cultural anthropology, maths, philosophy, sociology and chemistry.

So thanks for the thumbs up! Cos I just checked both the subjects offered by Duke and Williams and they are very similar. I guess I have to compare and see whether I like the atmosphere of a college or a university now. :)

myguy
04-01-2011, 10:17 AM
Just a perspective from someone who has attended a top LAC as well as a top University and who spent many years in the U.S. I think there is a general misunderstanding of what LAC actually means. There is a standalone LAC like Swarthmore or a LAC within a University, like Harvard College is within Harvard University or Yale College within Yale University. It can be even more complicated as Columbia University has two colleges, a LAC for women called Barnard and Columbia College, which is mixed. Its easier to get into Barnard College than Columbia College. Barnard Graduates are graduates from Columbia University. Harvard University used to have a similar women's college called Radcliffe, but it merged with Harvard College some time ago. Dartmouth College is an Ivy League institution, and is much more selective than Duke University, but still calls itself a college.

So, I would disagree with some of the posters that a University is necessarily better than a standalone LAC. In fact, some top ranked Universities have a much lower ranked undergraduate liberal arts college e.g., UC Berkeley. Its one of the best research universities in the world, but its undergraduate program would be considered below many standalone LACs and at best ranked about 30-40th in selectivity.

Therefore, if you want to do liberal arts, its not whether you go to a LAC or University, but the overall reputation of the institution. In the U.S., engineering does not carry the same cachet as in Singapore. Engineers are generally not that well paid or respected, so most top students will prefer liberal arts except maybe the nerdy ones. Doctors on the other hand are very highly respected, but you need a bachelors or masters degree to enter medical school and don't graduate until you are in your early 30s. The top medical schools generally take in graduates of top LACs (standalone and integrated) who did a pre-med program while they were at the LAC. There are a few good undergraduate business schools like Wharton, but those headed for top investment banks typically go to a top LAC and then do a MBA. Businesses find such students more rounded and more interesting than those with a undergraduate business degree.

myguy
04-01-2011, 11:51 AM
Its important to note that certain liberal arts colleges (I include both standalone LACs and LACs within Universities) are smaller so they have a better learning environment than others.

At smaller colleges like Harvard College (6,000), Yale College (5,200), Swarthmore (1,500) , Amherst (1,800), Dartmouth (4,200) etc you get small class sizes as a freshman and that falls to less than 20 students during your junior and senior years with advanced courses.

This is quite different from going to large Universities like Cornell or Berkeley. Cornell's famous Psych 101 class taught by Prof Maas (a sleep expert) can have 1,600 students in a class, which is taught at Bailey Hall, which is usually used for concerts. Its quite entertaining being in a large class with a superstar professor, but one should question whether you are in university for entertainment or learning. However Psych 101 at Cornell is an extreme example, but if you go to a large University, do be prepared for a lecture/tutorial system like NUS. Many students may never ever talk to the professor teaching the class, with their main interaction being the Teaching Assistant who is a graduate student.

At smaller liberal arts colleges, you have a very high student/faculty ratio. Harvard is 7:1, Swarthmore is 8:1, while Berkeley is 15:1

While Cornell is 9:1, many faculty don't teach and its supposed to have the highest number of classes with over 50 students among the Ivies.

pinepine
04-01-2011, 12:11 PM
Wow, a very informative and helpful long post. 1600 students in a class is just crazy! AFter reading your post I feel I really do prefer a smaller faculty/student ratio so, thanks a lot for raising the issue myguy! :)