Focussed on early specialization through a fixed curriculum, our current education system is a legacy of the British era. At age 17, students are expected to apply to a particular subject and continue studying that throughout their undergraduate degree. As a result, there is an increase in the number of students graduating each year with a technical degree and a unidirectional mindset i.e. to find a place in some industry, to survive paycheque to paycheque. Whereas, corporates find only a quarter of these graduating students suitable for employment. Recognising the need to update this perspective and bridge the skill gap in India, liberal arts education has gained attention over the past few years.
What is a liberal arts education? Its essence is to ‘liberate’ oneself from prejudice, dogma, and superstition. Contrary to traditional specialist degrees, the focus is on overall development and ‘breadth’ before ‘depth’. The interdisciplinary curriculum and pedagogy are structured to provide ‘holistic’ education, foster creative and independent thought, and develop intellectual ability. Liberal arts colleges aim to produce employable graduates, who will approach the world with a more balanced perspective and a sense of social responsibility.
It is important to note that Liberal Arts does not focus only on arts. The universities and programs encompass the arts and humanities, social sciences and natural and applied sciences. So over three to four years, one can study mathematics along with drama or fine arts or explore a variety of disciplines and then choose a specialization that is tailored to their unique interests. Engineering focused universities like Plaksha and Mahindra give students the opportunity to combine their technical knowledge with subjects like entrepreneurship, IPR & law, design thinking, and many more.
The holistic application process for liberal arts institutions is representative of their outlook. Like US universities, the emphasis is on the overall profile rather than just ‘scores’. Most of the institutes ask for a Statement of Purpose, Letters of Recommendation, and consider your overall academic performance all through senior school. Several institutes accept the SAT/ ACT and also have their own admissions test. The application process starts almost eight to nine months prior to the intake. If you are considering applying to a liberal arts program, now would be a good time to apply. Below is a list of popular liberal arts colleges in India that are still accepting applications for the 2021 intake. For further details do check the respective university website.