“We’re not hipsters and bedraggled art students”

Name: Heather

Major: Undecided (but something in the sciences!)

Class: 2016

Home State: Illinois

Image

What were your main reasons for going to college? 

My big reason was because the alternatives didn’t look so good in the long run. Half of the kids from my high school were going on to college education of some sort, and the rest were getting ready to work and get married as soon as possible because they couldn’t afford college or didn’t score high enough on exams.

On a brighter note, I love to learn and then apply what I’ve learned. I feel college is my reward for all the long hours and excruciating work I’ve put into my education in the past. Why turn down the chance to continue learning?

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

My parents were fine with almost anywhere I wanted to apply to, as long as I was actually interested in the colleges. They have always placed a high value on education. My high school counselor tried persuading me to apply to the same “big” schools as my friends because that’s what was expected of kids in the gifted program. He ended up being mildly disappointed that I found out about a liberal arts school; it didn’t fit his image of where the “neo-intelligentsia” he was advising should go to learn.

Where else did you apply?

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Mizzou. I might of also applied to Marquette. Either that or they just really wanted my money me.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

As I mentioned earlier, college is the reward for all the hard work done in high school. You get to choose your classes and truly map out the direction of your future. College prepares your for a career while nourishing your various interests and exposing your to an abundance of different people and ideas. At least that’s true of Beloit.

What are some negatives of going to school?

In regards to Beloit specifically, some people I know don’t approve of my going here. Either they equate “liberal arts” with images of hipsters and bedraggled art students, or they view the college as being too nice, not as down-to-earth as a university or a few years of pure work. I am still me; I’m not a pothead and I’m not an elitist for going here. I think the disapproval on both sides is ridiculous.

Also, and this is definitely more of a personal thing than a universal truth, I don’t always like the unspoken tension between different political views (Democrat vs. everyone else) and different beliefs (very secular vs. very religious) here on campus. It gets stressful at times being someone who is neither here nor there. We’re all attending Beloit to live and learn with the same passion – we don’t have to pretend there’s such division between us all, and yet every now and then this division rears its ugly head.

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

No. A gap year wasn’t even an option for me. Even if it had been, I wouldn’t have taken one. I would have just bummed around, applied for jobs and been turned down, etc. Not good for the psyche at all.

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

No! In fact, anytime I receive a letter from a friend going to a university (yes, some of us still handwrite letters!) and I hear about their lecture halls filled with 300+ students all clamoring for the professor’s attention, I say a little thank-you to God for being here and not elsewhere. I can’t imagine being in classes that size. Plus, every class I’ve been in has incorporated hands-on work in conjunction with lectures; I don’t have to wait until my junior or senior year to apply what I’ve learned.

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

I’m already on my way to using it! This summer, I’ll be volunteering at a local museum to assist with collections – cataloguing, organizing, display, all that good nerdy stuff! Whatever major I end up in, it’ll most likely require some graduate school. From there, who knows? I like to joke that I’ll end up as the most well-educated bartender someday when I can’t find any jobs. Then I could apply my growing knowledge of anthropology, psychology, biology, etc. to everyone I make drinks for – liberal arts in practice, eh? But I don’t honestly think that’ll be the case.

What’s your favorite dessert?

German Chocolate Cake! But only if it’s fresh.

School is Interesting and Innovative and it doesn’t have to be Cool

Name: Max

Major: Performance and Classical Civilization

Class: 2016

College: Beloit College

Home State: Rhode Island

Image

What were your main reasons for going to college? 

I knew I was going to go to college since eigth grade. I was always academically-minded.

Where else did you apply besides Beloit?

I applied to schools with folklore and theater programs. I had a great English teach who created a huge list of colleges he thought would work for me.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

It builds people up a lot and it’s a way to learn about what you’re interested in and gives you resources you can’t get at other places. It’s not necessary but beneficial to be surrounded by people in the same state of exploration that you are. Also, college forces you to confront people you wouldn’t confront otherwise.

What are some negatives of going to school?

College creates this artificial environment that is positive but doesn’t apply to a lot of the world outside school. One thing in particular about liberal arts schools is the PC culture. We change the way we speak to make things more inclusive but we’re part of an exclusive environment. At the end of the day you have to pay a lot of money to go to school.

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

I was thinking of going to school ealy at Simon’s Rock. At my high school I met all my requirements the year before I graduated. But I ended up finding a lot to do–volunteering, theater, writing. I don’t know if I’m a fan of gap years. My friend took a gap year and did everything he said he was going to do but if you’re just going to take a year to party then don’t.

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

I’m pretty satisfied. I’m meeting a lot of different people and I’m more social than I thought I would be. I’m not a fan of requirements. If they can trust us to do adult things then they should be able to trust us on what we can take and what we can’t. Requirements should reflect that people are individuals.

Favorite author?

William Blake and T.H. White

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

No Inherent Negatives

Name: Julian Vanecek

Major: Computer Science and Mathematics

Class: 2016

Home State: Wisconsin

College: Beloit College

Image

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

Image

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.

Answering the ‘So What?’ Questions

Name: Rita Bouwens

College: Beloit College

Major: Anthropology

Class: 2016

Home State: Michigan

Image

 What were your main reasons for going to college? 

To continue my education and to begin it, ultimately. Learning is never finished.

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

Not much at all. My parents pretty much let me have free reign to research schools and I didn’t apply to the same schools as my peers.

Where else did you apply?

University of Michigan, University of Chicago, Hope College, Calvin College, Grand Valley State, Aquinas College, Connecticut College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Trinity College, Wheaton College, Earlham College, Illinois Wesleyan, Knox College, Kalamazoo College, The College of Wooster, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Grinnell College, Macalester College, Denison College, and Dickinson College.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

One is able to articulate oneself better and answer the “so what?” questions. Also, “unpacking” complex concepts.

What are some negatives of going to school?

It’s not cheap.

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

I didn’t, mostly because I was ready to start college and I wanted to get it underway.

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

I wouldn’t. I love it here and I think it’s the perfect fit for me.

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

I’d love to be an anthropologist and study mermaids. I’m only half-joking with the second part.

Also, what’s your favorite dessert?

Plain popcorn or apples with peanut butter

A Practical Approach

Name: Lewis

College: Beloit College

Major: molecular, cellular, and integrative biology

Class: 2016

Home State: Maine

Image

What were your main reasons for going to college?

I wanted to learn more. College also offers a certain standard of jobs. I didn’t have a high school diploma since I was homeschool and I knew I would need some kind of degree to get a good job.

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

My parents both went to four year schools and I think that had a subliminal effect on my choice. It was just the next step. Most of my friends were going to college and my professor at University of Maine Augusta told me about Beloit.

Where else did you apply?

I didn’t apply to any state schools. There was mix of mid-size liberal arts schools in rural and urban areas. I applied to schools all around the country and one in Canada. I decided on a small liberal arts school because of the research opportunities you can get as an undergrad.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

A college teaches you how to learn, not just while you’re there but throughout your whole life. But it’s not a place where you grow up like a lot of people think. It’s not a middle ground between youth and adulthood. College is a professional thing meant to develop your career.

What are some negatives of going to school?

The negatives don’t outweigh the benefits, but the drinking and partying are downsides. That’s more of an issue with residential life than the actual academics.

Did you consider a gap year?

I took a gap year where I was a part-time student at a community college near my house. It helped me gain perspective on what I wanted to do in college and gave me a chance to practice college-level academics in a less difficult environment.

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

I’m happy with the choices I’ve made. I just wish I hadn’t listened to my advisor about what classes to take!