U.S Liberal Arts Colleges Explained: The View From Campus
Reed College, USA
“We see IELTS Academic as an important tool in evaluating a prospective student’s readiness for the academic demands of our curriculum.”
This month’s edition of the view from campus features Reed College, a private liberal arts institution in Portland, Oregon. Virginia Groves, Senior Assistant Dean of Admission, explains the function of small liberal arts colleges in the U.S.
- Describe your institution in 5 words?
While it is tough to use just five: Intellectual, Love of Learning (ok, I know that was a cheat), inclusive, inquisitive and intentional.
- What is your institution best known for overseas?
Reed has both a unique campus culture and academic rigor.
- What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?
Our three most popular programs are English, Biology and Psychology. We also offer the option of getting your nuclear reactor operator certification, which is a popular program across all majors.
- What are the top five countries represented at your college/How international is your institution?
Reed College is 8% international with many of our students coming from China, India, Canada, Vietnam, Singapore.
- How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process?
It is recommended that applicants submit an English Proficiency exam if they score below a 600 on the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT or if the medium of instruction at their school is not English. We see IELTS Academic as an important tool in evaluating a prospective student’s readiness for the academic demands of our curriculum.
- What is the most significant challenge most international students have when first considering the U.S. for post-secondary education?
Higher education in the U.S. is incredibly unique when compared to most institutions overseas, where the curriculum and institutions push students to focus on their chosen profession.
International students looking at U.S. liberal arts colleges and universities need to mentally prepare for a system that does not have one way of doing things. You will have to take classes outside of your chosen area of study and there is no one single path that a student “should” take after they leave their liberal arts college experience.
- How far ahead should students start the planning process if they are planning to come to the U.S. for study?
It depends on the deadline of the institution, but typically, if a regular deadline is in early January, we recommend that our students start at least thinking about researching and learning about a school’s application process and requirements at the end of their junior (11th) year.
If the schools you are applying to do require exams, make sure to allow for enough time to take these exams twice (just in case).
- What do prospective international students who are beginning their research need to know about liberal arts colleges in the United States?
You do not have to be fiscally or politically liberal nor particularly artistic to study at a liberal arts college! The goal of a liberal arts college is to prepare you for ANYTHING that you are interested in pursuing after graduation. The variety of courses and the way that most private, liberal arts colleges structure the curriculum will enable you to learn how to think critically, analytically and creatively.
- There are a lot of possible tests international students might need to take. For students considering liberal arts colleges are there some tests that those schools consider that other schools don’t?
It all depends on the institution and how they use those tests to evaluate their applicants. Some will require the SAT or ACT of all students, international and domestic. Some will require the English proficiency exams such as IELTS.
Universities will also, on occasion, use these exams to help inform what classes to place admitted students in, while others will require that you take internal placement exams when you arrive on campus.