Education Enriching Life

Name: Mariah

Major: English and Secondary Education

Class: 2015

Home State: NH

College: Saint Michael’s College

ImageWhat were your main reasons for going to college? 

To get the training necessary to get the job I want in the future, to meet new people and have new experiences, and to be a more knowledgeable person.

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

It was mostly my own choice, but everyone encouraged me to want to achieve higher education.

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

Learning, experiencing, living.

What are some negatives of going to school?

The cost of course, the massive debt I’m going to face.

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

No. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, so I didn’t want to waste time. 

Do you think you would change anything about your choices regarding your education? Nope.

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

An education can be applied to every aspect of life and enriches it. But to be more specific, I’m going to be a teacher.

Favorite band?

ABBA

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The Simplicity of Jobs and Books

Name: Julia

Major: Psychology

Class: 2015

Home State: CT

College: Mount Holyoke College

ImageWhat were your main reasons for going to college?

I’d like to have get a degree so that I have a better chance of getting a job.

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

Very Little – I made the final decision.

Where else did you apply?

Bryn Mawr, Connecticut College, Wheaton, Wellesley, Barnard, Simmons, Ithaca, and Goucher

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

Continuing my education, meeting people from around the world, new experiences/opportunities…

What are some negatives of going to school?

Sometimes I miss my family and the workload is exhausting.

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

I did for a split second, but then I decided against it because I was too excited at the prospect of starting college – I wouldn’t have been able to wait.

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

I wish I had been clearer in my major choice from the start – now I have to cram all of my major classes into the last semesters.

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

I think that a liberal arts education will secure me with a strong worldview along with the tools I need to make a difference in the world. I hope that my education will help me get a job in which I can help others. I also believe that it will spark a desire in me to continue learning and reading.

Favorite band?

Regina Spektor

“We’re not hipsters and bedraggled art students”

Name: Heather

Major: Undecided (but something in the sciences!)

Class: 2016

Home State: Illinois

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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.

The C Student

This is a reflection from a church newsletter that my mom sent to me last year. I really like it an coming into the college acceptance/rejection season, it’s comforting to think that academics don’t have to define who you are. Christina Villa talks some common sense into the frenzy of worry over what schools to choose.

The prayer at the end is simple but beautiful. Even if you’re already safe and sound in college, it still serves as a reminded to say humble and don’t let others’ judgements of your abilities limit your potential.

Excerpt from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.”

Reflection

In a recent issue of my college’s alumni magazine, the President’s letter was about the admissions committee agonizing over the many qualified applicants for limited places in the incoming class.  So impressive was the applicant pool this year that even “the acclaimed oboist who also started an animal shelter in her community” and “the budding actress who rock climbs and is fluent in three languages” were not admitted.

I understand that if you look directly at the applications of the kids who did get in, you will go blind, so admissions committees use those eclipse-viewing things.

The spell cast by the hyper-competitive college admissions process is not easy to opt out of.  When one of my sons was 11 or 12, he was getting a haircut and the barber asked him how he was doing in school.  “Oh, I get mostly C’s,” my son said.  The barber, Charlie, stopped snipping and looked my son straight in the eye in the mirror and said, “That’s just right, that’s just where you want to be.”  Then he resumed clipping and said, “You’re the guy they’ll want to hire when you grow up because they know you’ll try really hard.”

Oh great, I thought. Charlie had cut my son’s hair since he was little.  No matter how busy the shop was, we always had to wait for Charlie.  Sometimes it was a very long wait.  But Charlie, soft-spoken and polite, had patiently demonstrated the clippers for my son when he was 4 and suspicious of haircuts.  My son trusted him and was loyal to him.  And now Charlie was telling him that it was OK to be a C student.

Maybe I should have hustled the kid into the car and said something about how you can’t listen to everything your barber tells you. But I didn’t say anything. The world needs only so many tri-lingual, rock-climbing oboists, after all.  But it always needs more trust, more loyalty, and more  people like Charlie.

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Prayer
O God, release the high school seniors and their parents from the clutches of college anxiety, and restore the sight of those blinded by the accomplishments of others.  Amen

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

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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

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!

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