“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 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.