The Liberal Arts Philosophy
Liberal arts is a shortened form of the term “liberal arts and sciences,” and the liberal arts philosophy is a unique feature of the U.S. higher education system. U.S. undergraduate
education is based on this concept, which believes in providing a well-rounded academic education that develops the student’s verbal, written, and reasoning skills. Students at a liberal arts college, or at a university with a strong liberal arts program, begin their
degree study by taking classes in a wide variety of courses in the arts, humanities, languages, and the social and physical sciences. They then choose a subject in which to specialize (called a “major”) and take about 25 to 50 percent of their classes in the major area. Even those who do not follow a liberal arts program and instead plan to major in a specialized subject like engineering are usually required to take about 25 percent of their classes in humanities and social sciences to complement their studies. Similarly, a student who wants to complete a major in history is required to take some classes in mathematics and, possibly, the sciences.
One of the most attractive features of the bachelor’s degree program in the United
States is that it is highly flexible. You can usually choose from a wide variety of courses and create your own unique program of study. The degree is awarded after you complete a specified number of credits, which are usually completed in four years of full-time study.
The academic year will be slightly different for each university or college but normally runs from early September to the end of May.
American universities employ a system of continual assessment and assign grades for each course taken. Almost everything you do for a class will influence your final grade. Examinations and tests, essays or written assignments, laboratory reports, laboratory or studio work, class attendance, and class participation may all be used to determine your final grade. This means it is essential to keep up with the reading and course work and to
attend classes on a regular basis.
The following is a general percentage-letter grade scale for classes taken at U.S. colleges:
100 – 90% = A
89 – 80% = B
79 – 70% = C
69 – 60% = D
59 – 50% = E
49 – 0% = F