Finding Your Personal and Academic Identities

Name: Debbie

Major: sociolology major and religious studies minor

Class: 2013

Home State: California

College: Beloit

What were your motivations for going to school?

College was the norm at my school. The question wasn’t if you were going to school but which one.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

Having the liberal arts in practice sorts of experiences. I did DUFFY program where I worked for a semester with housing services in Beloit. I’ve done short-term service projects like school art projects and another large part of it has been going to church and having that off-campus community. There is a community here and it means something to say that I’m from here.

What are negatives of going to school?

The academic pressures can be a lot in the mix of figuring out personal identity and sometimes that can be overwhelming. With any college you can get yourself into a bubble and that can be a negative. It can make it inconvenient to be aware of other things that are happening in the community.

What are solutions to the negatives?

For personal identity: having close relationships with your advisor and having good support services like good counselors and RAs for figuring out those questions. Having an environment where people recognize that you’re not just a student, you’re a person trying to figure out who you are.

Now that you’re here at Beloit College, do you think you would change anything about your choices regarding your education?

Quick answer is no. I appreciate where I am and all the experiences that put me here. But now I’m realizing as a senior how much of an impact four years away from home has had on me. Coming to Beloit, being far away, I’m probably going back to the West Coast after graduation so I won’t see my midwestern friends again. I would have liked to be able to facilitate quality interactions with my family because sometimes Skype and phone calls aren’t enough.

Favorite band? 

Mumford and Sons

Commencement Speeches = The Ultimate Closure?

Commencement speeches can be the illustrious closure to four years spent in libraries and lectures. They can give guidance for the years ahead and fill an excited graduate’s heart with courage and passion. Other times, they put everyone to sleep.

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David Foster Wallace’s Commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005 has to be one the best I have ever read. My jealousy for the people in the front row that day is infinite.

Wallace talks about liberal arts schools as places that teach you how to think about the people around you. It encourages you to acknowledge that your reality is not the only reality and that you are not the center of the universe. College can push you out of your comfort zone, thereby rocking your universe centered on you, and forcing you to experience other ways of being in the world which makes you nicer.

Who doesn’t want a world filled with very aware, very nice people?

Here’s a link to Wallace’s speech (long but so worth reading) and a New York Times list of the best commencement speeches ever given!

A Great Place to Grow

Name: Abigail

Major: Mathematics

Class: 2015

Home State: New Hampshire

College: St. Lawrence University

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What were your main reasons for going to college?

The main reason I went to college was because that’s what you do after high school. Everyone I knew from growing up went to college, so I was going to, too. I was of course very excited to go to college, as I love learning and want to know everything there is to know about everything.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

I think there are so many benefits of going to college! I think for the job world today, it is necessary to at least get an undergrad degree to be able to get a job you want and be able to live a lifestyle of your chosing.

What are some negatives of going to school?

It is hard to make money during these four years, as work-study jobs are difficult to find on campus and they don’t pay much anyways, but other than that, I can’t think of a single downfall! It’s a great way to mature, learn about yourself, and grow as an adult!

Did you consider a gap year? Why or why not?

I did not consider a gap year. As I said before, everyone I knew went straight to college, and as learning is all I had ever done since I was 5 years old, I wanted to continue learning in the traditional college setting.

Now that you’re in college, do you think you would change anything about your choices regarding your education?

Nothing at all. Although the college application process was filled with rejection, at least for me, I am so happy to have ended up at St. Lawrence and I love all of the opportunities I have had here! Whatever choices I have made to help me get here, I would never change.

How do you think you will use your education later in life?

I think I will look back on my education every day of my life. I feel like college isn’t just a time for learning in the classroom, but to learn outside, too, and the things I learn about myself and about interacting with others will be things I look back on for the rest of my life.

Favorite band?

Jamie Cullum, a British jazz musician!

No Inherent Negatives

Name: Julian Vanecek

Major: Computer Science and Mathematics

Class: 2016

Home State: Wisconsin

College: Beloit College

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What were your main reasons for going to college? 

If I don’t go to school now I would be wasting my time going on a gap year. Going to college is pretty much implied but I still wanted to do it because my family is highly educated and there is no reason for me not to do it.

How much of an influence did your parents/peers/teachers have on the schools you chose to apply to?

I went to Germany in my second semester of my junior year because we hosted a freshman student and I talked to him about going abroad or going to California and he said I should come to Germany. So I went there the next semester to stay with his his family. It was really my decision.

Coming back from Germany I didn’t have any idea about colleges. I didn’t have any idea about the system or anything. And my mom said “Julian, you really like Beloit, you should apply there” so I ended up coming here.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

Better life, better neighborhood, more options, better job, less stressful life because you don’t have to deal with the system working against you. You have options about how you spend your time, you can do more things like travel and have an all in all less stressful life.

What are some negatives of going to school?

There are no inherent negatives about going to school.

Did you consider a gap year? Why or why not?

Yes I considered it. I didn’t take one because I already had a gap semester in germany where I gained a lot from that. It’s understandable why a lot of people would do it but I could have spent my time more productively by going to school. If I done it I would travel.

Now that you’re here at Beloit College, do you think you would change anything about your choices regarding your education?

I would have researched schools more, but it’s fine where I am now.

How do you think you will use your education later in life?

For my profession, for making money. My education will give me lots of skills. I will be more flexible in terms of what I can do.

Favorite band? 

Phat Phunktion

The Perspective of a Senior

Name: Kathleen

College: Beloit College

Major: Dance

Class: 2013

Home State: Illinois

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What were your main reasons for going to college?
Really, it seemed more of an expectation than anything else. My parents and my siblings both did it. It seemed to be the natural progression after high school. Also, I wanted to expand my knowledge base, grow as a person, and gain skills/experience that would prepare me for jobs.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?
Gaining knowledge, having fun (and developing maturity), challenging beliefs, and trying new things.

What are some negatives of going to school?
There are so many opportunities. Sure, that is a good thing in many ways (new experiences and growth, yay), but it’s so easy to become over-involved. Most of the time, I focus on my extracurriculars more than my actual classes.

Did you consider a gap year? Why or why not?
Nope. Well, I suppose I did in ‘it would be cool if I travelled,’ sort of way, but I did not seriously consider it.

Now that you’re here at Beloit College, do you think you would change anything about your choices regarding your education?
When I look back at my essays and performance in high school, I think, “I could have done better.” But that perspective comes from knowing what I know now.

How do you think you will use your education later in life?
After college, I’ll continue to take dance classes and build on the knowledge I gained at Beloit. But overall, I think in these past (almost) four years, I’ve developed a new way of thinking (as I think is the liberal arts way). That will continue to serve me whatever I do and wherever I go.

Favorite dessert?
I have a serious sweet tooth. I’m a huge fan of cheesecake, especially with Oreo or chocolate crust.

Buccaneer Scholar

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Check out this book! This successful computer programmer never received a high school diploma, but he gets an education daily. It’s a quick read and it will teach you a lot about what types of learning we value and which are actually effective.

“The beginning [of a journey] is a terrible time to plan. It’s the moment of greatest ignorance. In self-directed education, a lot of the value comes from exploiting opportunities that arise well out to sea, once I’ve seen some things and begun the learning process.”