Liberal education remains a mystery to many of the students enrolled in colleges and universities. Academic advisors, standing at the crossroads of the various curricular and cocurricular experiences that make up a student's liberal education, should be prepared to help students recognize the coherence of their education. This article provides advisors with conceptual knowledge and practical applications for guiding students toward an understanding and appreciation of liberal education. Specifically, I define liberal education and examine the goals associated with it, answer the critic who claims liberal education should not serve as a means to other ends, and provide five arguments for academic advisors to use in persuading students of the utility of liberal education.

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Author notes

Matthew M. Rust serves as Assistant Director for Assessment in the First Year College at North Carolina State University and is a JD candidate (May 2011) at the North Carolina Central University School of Law. He holds a BA from Butler University in philosophy/religion and political science and an MS from Miami University in college student personnel. He can be reached at

This article is based on a presentation made at the NACADA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, October, 2010. Thanks to those who attended and participated in that presentation; thanks also to Leigh Shaffer for his editorial guidance in developing this article.