Liberal Arts/Preprofessional Skills Guide

Recommended High School Level Background Courses

  • *General Math
  • *Chemistry
  • *Sociology
  • *Algebra I
  • *Composition
  • *Psychology
  • *Algebra II
  • Speech
  • Keyboarding

* Courses available in the Academic Achievement Center or the
High School Completion Center.

Basic Skills in the Program and on the Job


Challenging reading assignments are typical of courses in this program. Textbooks, written at the college level, often present abstract concepts and introduce many technical terms. Twenty- to forty-page reading assignments per class period are typical. Instructors do not necessarily spend lecture time explaining the text; rather, they expect students to integrate what they have read with the supplementary information presented in lectures.

In addition to their texts, students may use laboratory manuals in their science courses. In many courses, they may also be required to read related books and articles from professional journals. Projects involving library research are common, as are assignments based on current newspaper and news magazine articles.

Students who transfer to four-year institutions can expect reading assignments of increasing length and complexity. Reading requirements on the job will vary according to the nature of the work, ranging from business correspondence and computer software manuals to professional journals.

View more information on reading skills in the Liberal Arts program.


Strong communication skills are important to success in this program. To complete an Associate in Arts degree, students must take one speech course: Fundamentals of Oral Communication (SPC 101) or Interpersonal and Small Group Communication (SPC 126). Speaking requirements in other courses include oral reports, class discussions, and group projects. Although not every graduate will engage in public speaking on the job, nearly every work assignment will require cooperation with coworkers and many also involve one-to-one interaction with customers or clients.

Two writing courses are required for an AA degree: Composition I (ENG 105) and either Composition II (ENG 106) or Composition II: Technical Writing (ENG 108). Assignments in these courses include personal narrative, explanatory, and persuasive writing. Assignments involving research will require standard documentation of sources. In other classes, writing activities include essay tests, summaries and analyses of newspaper or journal articles, lab reports, and research papers. Many assignments require students to apply concepts taught in class. In the work place, writing responsibilities generally increase as individuals progress in their professions. Activities may range from business correspondence to project proposals and case notes.

View more information on language skills in the Liberal Arts program.


A strong general math and algebra background is important for students in this program. To meet AA degree requirements, students must complete one college-level math course. Students planning a career with low math requirements typically take Finite Math (MAT 141), for which one year of high school algebra is a prerequisite. Those planning a career in a math-based field such as engineering will take a sequence of courses including Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus I and II. The first course in the sequence has two years of high school algebra as a prerequisite, as does Statistics (MAT 157), which is taken by many students entering the business and social science fields. In their science coursework, students will apply basic math and algebra skills such as using metric measurements and applying formulas. Math skills are also fundamental in interpreting statistical data presented in professional journal articles.

View more information on math skills in the Liberal Arts program.


Strong study skills are expected of students in this program. Most lecture courses require a minimum of two hours of study for each hour spent in class; many science and math classes take three to four hours of study. Students must take notes from both texts and lectures, integrating the information as they prepare for tests.

One of the fundamental goals of a liberal arts education is to refine students' higher level thinking skills. For instance, sequencing skills are important in coursework ranging from science labs to history classes. Students often compare and contrast related items, such as molecular structures, historical periods, and sociological theories. They must apply abstract concepts to specific cases in humanities, math, science, and social science courses. Cause-effect thinking and problem-solving are also central to many subject areas. As they develop some familiarity with the contents of a discipline, students are expected to analyze and evaluate the merits of position statements on controversial issues and to take well-reasoned positions themselves. These skills help them prepare not only for professional careers but also for responsible citizenship.

View more information on learning skills in the Liberal Arts program.


Basic familiarity with keyboarding and word processing skills will be helpful to liberal arts students, as most instructors expect written assignments to be typed.

View more information on computer skills in the Liberal Arts program.

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