Why a small liberal arts college?

When I was applying to college, I wasn’t looking at ‘liberal arts colleges’ per se. As an international student coming from Bangladesh, I had the preconceived notion that ‘Universities’ were better than colleges and that somehow going to a bigger school would be more fun.

Having graduated from high school with only 54 other seniors, I sometimes even consider Clark to be a pretty big school. There are those lazy Sunday moments when I’m just procrastinating and thinking of ‘how life would be if…’ (Yup!You know you do it to sometimes) and I realize OH MY GOSH I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO HAVE 200 OTHER PEOPLE IN MY CLASS AND STILL REMAIN SANE! Trust me, when you’ve been at a small school for the greater half of your undergraduate learning, you would be a little anxious at the sight of huge masses too.
However, going back to the ‘point’ of writing this piece today—Why I love being at a small liberal arts college.

1. I love the idea of being able to do not just one but two majors. Heck, some people even do three. And lets not even get into the MMS: multiple-minors-syndrome!

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2. The professors (Not just the TAs) know your name. Sometimes you guys even get lunch. And that’s just an understatement to how well they may know you.

dumbledore-office

3. Not competing with graduate students for research positions and a lucky few even get published as a sophomore.

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4. Interesting class discussions are a real thing! I went to every one of my ‘philosophy of the good life’ classes and did not fall asleep!

2jeo3sj 5. There is always a sense of community because there are only so many of you.

Community-group-hug 6. It’s okay if you come in not knowing what you want to do with your life. You take your education into your own hands. Learn the things you want to learn and let your curiosity go wild!
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On a more serious note, one of things I love about my college experience here so far is that I am always encouraged to question. I am constantly moved and inspired by the diverse opinions that my peers share and I’ve grown to look forward to these dialogues.

The world is increasingly becoming global and diverse. The internet, television, and faster modes of travelling have made the exchange of knowledge and culture so easy that nowadays many are not only shaped by what is just physically around them. Stereotyping people and their culture is something so many are trying to stop. Which begs us to question—Why should education and learning be fit into just a list of courses you have to take to get a piece of paper that says you are an economist, physicist, mathematician etc.?

When I came to college, I was coming here for the experience just as much as the acquisition of knowledge. Things such as class discussions, heart-to-heart conversations with my professors and being able to design my own research as a freshmen or sophomore make me love LEARNING! A liberal arts college is suppose to give you a well-rounded education, and in reality it does so much more. It makes you go outside your comfort zone every single day, which just makes you a well-rounded person who is a little more prepared to face real-life situations.

For my fellow incoming first-years who will be making the grueling decision of which college to attend in a few months, don’t let the expectations and opinions of the world make you go against what you truly want to do in life. Don’t take college as a stepping stone to something bigger. You don’t have to go to a liberal arts college to find yourself or your goals; some of you may even have found your passion and have a plan to work towards it. When you make your choice, decide not to settle. Choose the kind of environment YOU want to be in—–a place where you will learn things not just for the sake of learning. Consider a place where you will fall in love with the people just as much as you will with your new-adult-life. Like Steve Jobs once said,

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

By Suaida Firoze

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