Private Advantage

Good for Students

Why Liberal Arts?

A liberal arts education positions students for success in an increasingly diverse and ever-changing marketplace. According to a white paper titled, “The Competitive Imperative – The Economic Case for Increasing Oregon’s Education Output and Quality,” produced by the Oregon Education Roundtable:

“It is clear that the economy of the 21st Century will require a different and wider set of skills for individual success. Organizations are changing from fixed hierarchies and mass production to flexible, team-based arrangements. The new workplace depends on the creativity of team members.” The paper continues, “Studies of economic change illustrate that workers now need not only traditional, basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics, but also, as shown below, much broader capabilities in adaptive learning, problem solving and organization.”

Success in the New Knowledge Economy

A liberal arts education prepares students for success in this new knowledge-based economy. Skills and abilities in the new knowledge economy include:

  • Basic Skills: reading, writing, and mathematics
  • Foundation skills: knowing how to learn
  • Communication skills: listening and oral communication
  • Adaptability: creative thinking and problem-solving
  • Group Effectiveness: interpersonal skills, negotiation and teamwork
  • Influence: organizational effectiveness and leadership
  • Personal Management: self-esteem and motivation/goal setting
  • Attitude: positive cognitive style
  • Applied Skills: occupational and professional competencies

(Source: Carnevale & Desrochers)

Individualized Instruction

These skills and abilities that are necessary for success in the new knowledge economy are precisely those honed by a four-year liberal arts education. Much of this is attributed to the distinctive style of undergraduate education at The Alliance’s colleges and universities where extensive interaction between faculty and students facilitates engaged discourse. With small class sizes and a faculty-to-student ratio of 12:1, an emphasis on individualized instruction within an intimate group-based setting is the cornerstone of a liberal arts education.

Measuring Quality

A significant indicator of the quality of attention received by students at private, nonprofit colleges and universities is the percentage of baccalaureate degrees earned in four years or less: a student attending one of Oregon’s private, nonprofit colleges or universities is twice as likely (61%) as a student attending a public Oregon university to complete a baccalaureate degree in four years (30%).

Similarly, whereas Alliance institutions account for 19% of undergraduate enrollment and 45% of graduate enrollment in the state, they award 22% of Oregon’s baccalaureate degrees and 50% of Oregon’s graduate degrees respectively.

For more information about Oregon’s private, nonprofit higher education sector and how to help secure a brighter future for students and for Oregon, please visit the Giving page.

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