In order to understand why the liberal arts are important for online students, we need to first understand why the liberal arts are important simpliciter—that is, why they’re important for anyone, why they’re important in themselves. And to understand this, we must first reflect on the meaning of “liberal arts”—a phrase more commonly used than truly understood.
What Is Liberal Arts Education?
Liberal arts is a model of education that aims first and foremost at shaping students as individuals. This is more controversial than it sounds. To understand why, it’s helpful to compare the liberal arts model with its most popular competitor. The typical model of education these days aims primarily at preparing students for some future career (or for future higher education, such as law school or med school, which in turn is required for a future career). Its focus is to equip students with skills that will help them, eventually, to secure a first job, thereby increasing their financial security and earning potential. This model understands the value of education primarily, and most importantly, in economic terms.
Why Liberal Arts Is Important for Students
Why are the liberal arts important for online students? The answer is simple: because the liberal arts are important for any student (or the parent of any student) who considers financial and career goals, however important, to be less important than becoming the right kind of person and living a flourishing life. And for a variety of reasons, the best option for such an education is, for many students, only available online.
Liberal Arts Education Helps Students Grow
Liberal arts is different. It appreciates the need to prepare students for future vocations, but it insists that this is a byproduct of good education rather than its principal goal. It aims directly at forming students—that is, helping them to develop their intellectual capacities to their fullest potential. And in a Christian liberal arts education, the formation that is sought is not only intellectual but also moral and spiritual. The purpose of a Christian liberal arts education, in short, is to facilitate each student’s intellectual, moral, and spiritual development.
Is this a worthy goal? More to the point, is this a goal that ought to be prioritized over the goal of acquiring “practical” skills that will make one more competitive in a future job market? We think so, and we’ve tried to make a brief case for this in a previous blog post. For anyone who shares this vision of education—a vision of education that prioritizes the goal of helping students achieve their highest intellectual, moral, and spiritual potential over merely equipping them for their first job—a liberal arts institution is an excellent fit.
Online Liberal Arts Education at Gravitas
The Stony Brook School is just such an institution. But until now, the world-class education it offers was limited to those who are able to live on or near its Long Island campus. With the launching of the Gravitas program, this is forever changed. The same model of Christian liberal arts education offered at The Stony Brook School is now available to students across the globe.
At Gravitas, we aim to prove that world-class Christian liberal arts education—even education that is up to the standards of The Stony Brook School—can be delivered in an online format. Come join us and experience it for yourself.