Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

College Guide with A Liberal Arts Focus

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

College Guide with A Liberal Arts Focus

Article excerpt

THE NATIONAL REVIEW COLLEGE GUIDE: AMERICA'S 50 TOP LIBERAL ARTS SCHOOLS. Edited by Charles Sykes and Brad Miner, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 212 pp., $14.95

FOR the next two months high school seniors will check the mailbox for college acceptance notices. And juniors will get serious about what college or university, if any, they will attend two falls hence. Fortunate for each (and their parents) a new, keenly discriminating guide to liberal arts colleges is just out - "The National Review College Guide: America's 50 Top Liberal Arts Schools."

Before this slim volume prompts a single campus visit it has already set a new, promising, standard for the genre. It doubles as an admissions test. By virtue of its erudition, as well as its criteria for scholarship, a student able to read and understand it establishes de facto readiness for a four-year liberal arts experience.

This is clearly an alternative guide, one to be read in conjunction with two or three more comprehensive college guides, and, as the authors of all such guides stress, to be accompanied by at least one visit to the college or university itself. It is quite unlike such leading college guides as "The Fiske Guide to Colleges," "Barron's Profiles of American Colleges," and "Peterson's Guide to Four-Year Colleges."

The editors of National Review's college guide have a mission statement as well as advice to offer on which college to attend. They set forth what they consider a liberal arts education to be. They describe three essential ingredients necessary in a good one. They cite reasons why a democracy, in order to sustain itself, must likewise sustain a continuous stream of liberally educated citizens, not just technically trained ones.

The National Review guide makes no effort at being comprehensive, in contrast to the guides mentioned above. It recommends a mere 50 schools, justifying each in light of its own rigorous, very traditional standards. It soon becomes evident just how rigorous, or narrow, certainly provocative, depending on the point of view. …

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