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

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!

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.

A Foundation of People and Places

Name: Andrew

Major: International Studies

Class: Sophomore

Home State: NH

College: University of Denver

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What were your main reasons for going to college?

To learn about subjects that interest me and to get a degree that will make me employable

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

Parents only gave me options that we could afford. Teachers and peers had little influence.

Where else did you apply?

UNH, UVM, Hofstra, Northeastern, UMiami, American

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

To get a base knowledge of a subject that can be applied to higher degrees or a job. Also, I think we learn important social skills from the university community.

What are some negatives of going to school?

Very expensive! These years of my life could be spent getting practical field experience.

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

Definitely. This would have been a wonderful time to transition and consider what I want out of life. Ultimately, I chose not to because I am going to a school that allows me to study abroad for a year, so it is essentially the same thing, but I still get credit for it.

Would you change anything about your choices regarding your education?

If I could change one thing about the University of Denver, it would be the number of students. It feels a bit small at times.

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

I think the degree will be very useful in the non-profit sector of the human rights field. This is where I hope to see myself in the future. I will most likely have to get a higher degree at some point, but I think the BA is a good starting point.

Favorite band?

WHAAAAT? Impossible question! Some of my favorites include Jamie Woon, Cat Stevens, Coldplay, Wax Tailor, Thievery Corporation

A Jumping Off Point

Name: Lena

Major: International Relations

Class: 2015

Home State: Oregon

College: Mount Holyoke College

Malyszko/Mount Holyoke Photo

What were your main reasons for going to college?

To further my education, and to be able to expand my world view.

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

There was a small influence, but there was a rule that if I wanted to apply to any on the East Coast, I would have to apply to the same number on the West Coast.

Where else did you apply?

University of Oregon, University of San Francisco, University of Redlands, University of Denver, American University, Goucher College

What do you see as benefits of going to college?

Being able to meet influential people, either who are influential now, or they will be influential in the future.

What are some negatives of going to school?

I’m super far from my family, and I feel like this is a bit like high school all over again – all-girls high school, women’s college. IR is also a super time-consuming and stressful major, no matter what people say about it.

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

I did, but I knew if I took one, I’d never make it back to school. I ended up taking one term off and going to Europe for school and to travel instead.

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

If I were to go back, I’d apply to a few more schools in the Midwest/Central region. Specifically in Chicago.

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

I plan on Law School and doing something with that in the future, other than
becoming a Lawyer, as I find that dull. Who knows though? It could totally
change.

Favorite band? That’s a toss-up. It’s Mumford and Sons, Maroon 5, or
Macklemore. I’m leaning towards Macklemore.

A Practical Approach

Name: Lewis

College: Beloit College

Major: molecular, cellular, and integrative biology

Class: 2016

Home State: Maine

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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!