What A Liberal Arts Education Means To Me

What A Liberal Arts Education Means To Me

We don't always sit under trees and sing "Kumbayah."
Alan Yeh
Alan Yeh
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A common assumption about students who go to liberal arts colleges is that they just sit around underneath the cool shade of a giant oak tree and talk about their feelings. And as a student at a liberal arts college, I can honestly say that I...have only done this like once or twice.

Telling people that I go to a small liberal arts college often elicits confused looks and condescending questions about why I didn't choose to go to a big-name university. They question what I'll be able to do in the future with my liberal arts degree and joke that I'll become a teacher. Firstly, what's wrong with being a teacher? Secondly, my future is none of your business.

Merriam-Web defines liberal arts as: "College or university studies (as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science) intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills."

I define liberal arts as a genuine love for learning.

The deadline for declaring concentrations recently passed at my small liberal arts college and my Facebook feed was flooded with life events of declaring majors. They ranged from Environmental Studies and Theatre double majors to Biochemistry and French double majors to Creative Writing majors. I, myself, declared Literature and French, and I can't wait to go back home and have my relatives ask me why. Going to a liberal arts college makes these diverse major pairings possible. And the learning isn't just limited to the classroom and our areas of concentration.

Studying at a liberal arts college means you can petition for an independent study in building cars while also taking classes on poetry, linear algebra and the history of the Middle East and engaging in student organizations discussing the politics of hair and intersectional feminism in the evening. Especially at a college like mine with an open curriculum, students take classes in areas in which they're genuinely interested. Even better, professors are genuinely interested in their students and want us to enjoy what we're learning. As much as I complain about the amount of school work I have, I am fascinated with course material and love what I am learning in and out of class. We don't go to our colleges because we love being extremely isolated from civilization. We go for the education, our passion for learning, and the opportunities we're afforded.

Last month, presidential candidate Marco Rubio called liberal arts colleges “indoctrination camps” protected by the political left “because all their friends work there.” To which Alan Singer from Hofstra University responded on Huffington Post by citing Thomas Jefferson who wrote in a letter in 1786: "I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness." Although I don't agree with Thomas Jefferson on all things, I agree with the importance he places on "the diffusion of knowledge." Liberal arts colleges preserve crucial learning traditions and foster values in strong oral and written communication, social awareness, citizenship, creativity, and more.

When it comes to finding a job, the skills and experiences that liberal arts college students gain make them well-rounded candidates. Still, why is there so little value in learning itself? Additionally, why is one's love of learning a reason for being shamed by others who have their minds set only on vocational prospects? Do whatever you want. Study whatever you want. Be passionate and love learning for what it is, not for what you think it will give you in the future.

Cover Image Credit: hamilton.edu

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10 Things I Threw Out AFTER Freshman Year Of College

Guess half the stuff on your packing list doesn't really matter
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I spent the entire summer before my freshman year of college so WORRIED.

I also spent most of my money that summer on miscellaneous dorm stuff. I packed the car when the time finally came to move in, and spent the drive up excited and confused about what the heck was actually going on.

Freshman year came and went, and as I get ready to go back to school in just a few short weeks (!!), I'm starting to realize there's just a whole bunch of crap I just don't need.

After freshman year, I threw out:

1. Half my wardrobe.

I don't really know what I was thinking of owning 13 sweaters and 25 T-shirts in the first place. I wear the same five T-shirts until I magically find a new one that I probably got for free, and I put on jeans maybe four times. One pair is enough.

2. Half my makeup.

Following in the theme of #1, if I put on makeup, it's the same eyeliner-mascara combination as always. Sometimes I spice it up and add lipstick or eyeshadow.

3. My vacuum.

https://secure.img1-ag.wfcdn.com/im/d5ea3c03/resize-h2000-p1-w2000%5Ecompr-r85/3021/30217778/Express+6+Volt+Cordless+Bagless+Handheld+Vacuum.jpg

One, I basically never did it. Two, if I REALLY needed to vacuum, dorms rent out cleaning supplies.

4. Most of my photos from high school.

I didn't throw them ALL away, but most of them won't be making a return to college. Things change, people change, your friends change. And that's okay.

5. Excess school supplies.

Binders are heavy and I am lazy. I surprisingly didn't lose that many pens, so I don't need the fifty pack anymore. I could probably do without the crayons.

6. Cups/Plates/Bowls/Silverware.

Again, I am lazy. I cannot be bothered to wash dishes that often. I'll stick to water bottles and maybe one coffee cup. Paper plates/bowls can always be bought, and plastic silverware can always be stolen from different places on campus.

7. Books.

I love to read, but I really don't understand why I thought I'd have the time to actually do it. I think I read one book all year, and that's just a maybe.

8. A sewing kit.

I don't even know how to sew.

9. Excessive decorations.

It's nice to make your space feel a little more cozy, but not every inch of the wall needs to be covered.

10. Throw pillows.

At night, these cute little pillows just got tossed to the floor, and they'd sit there for days if I didn't make my bed.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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We're All Thinking It, I'm Saying It: Too Many People Are Running For President

I'm all for options, but man, do we really need 24? I mean, I can barely pick a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins let alone a potential President.

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There are, currently, 23 Democrats running for President. On the Republican side, there's, of course, Trump, but only one other candidate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Democrats have a whole range of people running, from senators to congressmen, a former vice-president, and even a spiritual advisor. We can now say that there are DOZENS of people running for President in 2020.

Joe Biden has been leading the pack for quite some time now. He was even leading polls before he announced his campaign. Although he is the frontrunner, there really is no big favorite to win the nomination. Biden has been hovering around the mid-30s in most polls, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. Other minor candidates in the hunt are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

After the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats have become electrified and have a mission to take back the White House after winning back the House of Representatives in 2018. There are so many people running in 2020, it seems that it will be hard to focus on who is saying what and why someone believes in something, but in the end, there can only be one candidate. This is the most diverse group of candidates ever, several women are running, people of color, the first out gay candidate, and several more.

There could be a problem when it comes to debate time. I mean, the first debate is next month. Having around 20-plus people on stage at the same time, debating each other kinda sounds like a nightmare. How can someone get their point across in the right amount of time when someone else is going to cut them off? Debates are usually around an hour and a half. So, if you divide it up, each candidate would get just under five minutes to speak. That would be in a perfect world of course.

Democrats seriously believe that they can beat Trump in 2020. They say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and have the guts and the momentum to storm back into the White House. By July of next year, there will be only one candidate left. Will they be able to reconcile the divide during the primaries? We will see. It will surely be a fun election cycle, so make sure to have your popcorn ready and your ballot at hand to pick your favorite candidate, no matter what party you lean towards.

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