Beyond the Basics: The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

The College Counseling Office in partnership with the Parent’s Association hosted College Counseling Beyond the Basics: The Value of a Liberal Arts Education on Tuesday, March 30. The panel was comprised of three admissions professionals: Zaire McCoy, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL; Tara Nelan, Regional Director of Admission (Southeast) for Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, PA; and Pat Orr, Associate Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Davidson College in Davidson, NC. They were joined by Thomas Chafin ’14 who attended Davidson College, and Katharine Conklin ’18, who is currently a junior at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. 

Liberal arts builds critical thinking skills as well as writing and research skills, among other things. A liberal arts education isn’t is politically affiliated or steeped in the performing or fine arts. 

“It is flexible, it’s civil discourse, it’s not one thing but many things,” said Zaire McCoy. “It is preparing for you for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

“Liberal arts is having the courage to explore what is most interesting to you that leads to an enriching experience in college and beyond,” shared Tara Nelan. 

Thomas shared that he was considering all large state schools and Davidson when he was a senior. He was pretty much committed to going to UNC Chapel Hill, but his mother told him before making his decision that he needed to sit in on a class at both UNC and Davidson. He attended a large lecture hall class with a friend at UNC and then attended one at Davidson, where he was met by a professor who walked him to class and gave an incredible lecture on wood prints and the black plague — which he still remembers to this day. 

“Don’t assume a bigger school means more opportunities. I attended a small liberal arts college where I participated in sports, joined a fraternity, had my own radio show, studied abroad, and more,” said Pat Orr.

Katharine Conklin, a religion and education double major, is currently conducting research with a professor and that research is in the process of being reviewed for publication. 

“Your occupation is not dictated by your major but getting excited about what you want to study, pursuing what you are interested in and then having the opportunity to interact with students from other disciplines,” said Pat Orr.

The session was recorded for students and parents unable to attend the session. Please email Stephanie Schuster in the College Counseling Office at [email protected] for the link.