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."
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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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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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I’m The Girl Who Never Dreams Of Her Wedding, Because Getting Married Is Not A Career

I have others dreams in life that are much bigger than marriage.

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Ever since we were little girls, the idea of a dream wedding has always been built up around us.

Everyone has one, everyone knows what season they want to get married in, what their dress looks like, what flowers they want, and so on.

But I've never had that. I've never had a time in my life where I knew what kind of wedding I wanted or what kind of dress I'm going to walk down the aisle in or what kind of flowers I want. I've never been the kind of person to dream of a prince charming sweeping me off my feet and taking me away to my happily ever after.

Growing up, my idea of a "perfect life" was being a working, single mom with one child that I'll adopt, and living in a decent, upper-middle-class apartment. I have never thought of myself with a significant other. I've never thought of myself as someone that would get married, much less someone that would dream of a wedding.

And the fact is: that's okay. It's perfectly acceptable for a woman to want to focus on her career.

It's perfectly acceptable for a woman, or person for that matter, to not want to get married. It is perfectly acceptable, in this day and age, for me to be a single woman and not want or dream of a wedding.

No, there's nothing wrong with that.

No, it doesn't mean I won't ever get married (don't stress, mom). No, it doesn't mean I'll be a bad parent because I want to do it on my own. No, it doesn't mean I'm "crazy."

Yes, it is terrible for people to look down on others because they do not want the "norm."

Yes, it is rude to assume that I'll become an old cat lady. Yes, it is rude to assume that being a cat lady is a "bad thing." And yes, your opinion of my future does not matter to me.

Part of the good thing about this day and age is the fact that we have a chance to choose. We can choose a career, family, or both. And if someone chooses differently than you or the "norm," that's OK, too.

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