When I decided to attend a liberal arts college, I knew that I was on a uphill battle. As a science major, these aren't always the best places for a great GPA and an easy schedule. Last semester, with a class load of five, four were required by the school and only one was a part of my major. That is four classes filled with reading Cicero, talking about the Aeneid, and going in depth about what the Founders meant in the Constitution.
Here, at Hillsdale, our core is very rigorous. But that isn't why it is hard. The Core is extremely humanities heavy. Meaning that all of the reasons I chose science are eventually going to become full year struggles. Writing, reading and understanding or interpreting that work, all are things that I'm not that great at. When I'm stuck trying to write an analysis of the Maccabees, I can't help but think about how I'd rather be doing titrations with acetic acid and sodium hydroxide.
I am not the best academic writer, and I don't pretend to be. However, when I'm in a classroom filled with History and English majors, my papers look like chopped liver. Professors can't help but read mine expecting amazing insights, and find a mediocre analysis of what Shakespeare is saying about the meaning of human life. How do you properly insert a quote into a paragraph, and how do I not repeat myself 17 times throughout the five page paper.
It's one of the most frustrating things for me to spend hours on an essay, and still end up with a less than stellar grade. It's mostly because I truly don't understand how to write a paper. Nothing any teacher has ever said to me about it has made any sense. My mind can't grasp the idea that there is a difference between analysis and summary, and what that difference is. Nothing clicks when the teacher says that I didn't provide evidence for an idea, when I felt as though I structured the paragraph well. But when a TA comes up and tells me how to write a detailed mechanism, it makes sense almost instantly.
But being a science major here isn't all that bad. The community between us biological process, physical and chemical lovers is like nothing I've ever experienced before. We all struggle through the Western Heritage and Great Books classes together, swapping grades and what professors are good for science majors. We all basically live in the science building, and we know a fellow scientist when we see them. If nothing else, having my older friends help me with my labs and hanging out with my friend Erin in our organic class, I know that all of the hard work I put into the other classes is worth the time I get to spend doing the things that I love.
I truly believe in the mission of what is meant by a liberal arts education. I want to be a well rounded person, able to work through those subjects that give me trouble. And because of this, I am more thankful when I do understand something, so an interesting or insightful comment in an English class is something that gets me so excited. I love being pushed out of my comfort zone at the end of a class, even though if you ask me how I am during the class, I may just make a noise of despair and say nothing at all. Plus, I have a pretty awesome book collection now. Virtus Tentamine Gaudet. Strength Rejoices in the Challenge.