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Just came back from Wesleyan just now.
Going there and listening to President Michael Roth’s speech reminded me of the reason why I applied to small liberal arts colleges in the first place. It’s definitely better than those big universities and specialized institutions. Cough cough.
What really hit home is that embracing a liberal arts education shows that you are a true intellectual who has a real passion for learning. It’s not extremely specialized like business and accounting. That only prepares you for the “jobs of yesterday,” as President Roth says. Going to a business school or engineering school will only train you for that specific field. There really is not much leeway for you to explore all the options that you can have, and as we already know, most college graduates don’t even enter careers based on their majors. What you’re really preparing for during those four years is for a sucky first job that you might not even like, Roth says.
A liberal arts education, on the other hand, prepares you for the “jobs of tomorrow.” It creates our future leaders and it prepares you for the future in ways that non-liberal arts schools can’t. And it is so important to be open to new ideas and topics that you never even thought you’d like. If you don’t look outside the box, how do you know what’s outside? Some might scoff at the idea of a liberal arts education and think that majoring in business (or insert another specific field) right away would earn you more money. Well, that’s just sad. Those people would be the ones who don’t live up to their highest potential and don’t even realize it. At the end of the day, what’s most important is not going for what you think would be the most lucrative job, but having being open-minded to new experiences and finding (or re-finding) your main passion as well as many other new passions.
Stop limiting yourself. Screw social conventions. And if you really love business, engineering, medicine, etc., that’s great. By all means, go for it. I give you all the support and best wishes. (Remember that there’s graduate school for that too.)
But if you’re doing it for the money or because that’s what you “should do,” life is not worth living.
It’s a disgrace that our lives have turned into nothing more than a paper chase. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to waste. I’m sitting here bored like an Ethiopian tapeworm, in this fucking class where I’m told to learn. I’m not even passionate about the subject, but if I drop it then society classifies me as a reject.
what do you say is the difference between backup and safety? most people use the terms interchangably but you seem to have them separated. also, is there a reason you're not looking at LACs?
I’ve made a mental division between back-ups and safeties. My safety is a school that I know I will get into, no questions asked. It’s the last buffer to prevent me from dropping out of society and living in the hinterlands and frontier zones as a rugged social pariah. My back-ups are schools that I believe I will most likely be accepted into - my “comfortable” applications.
The tier goes like this:
- dream school(s)
None of the LACs that I looked into appealed to me, thus I’m not applying to any. Maybe because I really want research opportunities.
I’m so frustrated.
I want a liberal arts college atmosphere with the option of going into engineering or focused science major.
I want an open curriculum.
I want diversity and a bomb ass community atmosphere and long, cold winters.
Why are you the only school that encompasses all these things, Brown?
006. Week Three of Classes and Settling In
Week three of class is over, and I’m finally settling into the routine of night classes and a three hour daily commute (thanks to new playlists to jam to on the commute).
My Tuesday night class is on student development, and it’s an amazing course. This week we had a student panel of five seniors at the university come in to answer questions, and then after they left we discussed the various cognitive and moral development theories we’ve been studying and how it applies to them. Without going into too much detail, since they revealed a lot of information about themselves and it’s confidential, it was really nice to be able to relate the development theories (i.e. Perry, etc.) we’ve been learning to the stages they went through as students. For example, one student was discussing his study abroad experience during his junior year and how that was really a trigger point for his growth and maturation. It also made me realize that I never had an experience like that - I feel like I was actually a lot more independent when I came to college than I am now (considering I’m writing this from the recliner in my parents’ living room), and that I’ve been stalling my development, especially the past few years. I need to work on that. I need to learn to go outside my comfort zone. Hearing these students talk about their experiences made me reevaluate some of the things in my own development (i.e. how important it is I move out soon), and think about things I haven’t really given much thought to in the past. The whole class was really interesting.
A small rant about my school
First off I must state that I love my school. Its a great place and the best and most affordable option for me.
There is a problem though. A bit of a major problem. THERE ARE TOO MANY DAMN REQUIREMENTS. Yes, my school is a liberal arts college, thus has more requirements because the system wants you to have a generous base of knowledge. That is not the problem. I approve of it. But our school has the base curriculum, clusters, and humanities. And for several of them you can’t have your base curriculum be and count as part of your cluster(a cluster being a group of courses in a random area). Like IE you have to have a science for core curriculum and your cluster. However oftentimes(not always) the course you took for your cluster can’t count as both your curriculum requirement and your cluster requirement. Which is annoying. And being transferred in sucks because so many of the core/cluster/humanities requirements are so specific that the credits don’t transfer. Not to mention the art department never ever takes credits from other schools. Which means that I am only just getting to register as a sophomore after being a sophomore all year. It also means only a third of us graduate on time. *flails a bit*
Levi Takes on College (10 and counting)
Hey hi! I’d like to update with my current list of prospective institutions of higher education (post - compiling and editing)
- Brown University (9.3% acceptance) (ED) *
- Princeton (8.8%)
- Cornell (16.2%)
- University of Chicago (18.8%)
- Tufts (21.9%)
- RICE? (19%)
- Wesleyan (20.6%) !
- Vassar (23%) !
- Carleton (31%)
- University of Arkansas Fayetteville (61%)
- Grinnell College (43.2%) *
* open curriculum
! minimal requirements
bolded - excellent pre med programs
italics - unsure
Gender and College Admissions
Back in the fall of 2007, when I was working diligently on college applications, I tried to base the colleges I was applying to on location, academic reputation and the likelihood that I would get scholarships and financial aid. I expected those colleges to base their decision on whether or not I’d be accepted on my GPA, SAT scores, recommendations, etc. I never once thought that my gender could play a role. After all, it’s the 21st century.
So when I read this article, I was extremely surprised that colleges would ever consider gender as part of the equation. Shouldn’t it be based on achievement? And if you’re going to help anyone based on race, class and gender… shouldn’t it be those who have historically been discriminated against and who have been fighting for equality for years?
Well, it turns out colleges have been having an interesting problem: too many qualified female applicants. So what does this mean? “In practical terms, in the past decade, female applicants have faced an admissions rate that is an average 13 percentage points lower than that of their male peers just for the sake of keeping that girl-boy balance.”
So, in a time when the majority of CEOs and people in power are men, are colleges making sure that women don’t outnumber men? I feel conflicted by this information because I want parity, but if more women are qualified to attend elite universities, they should be able to regardless of the number of qualified men. Women are underrepresented in plenty of professional areas and having more women graduating from elite universities could possibly help this issue. But, the main question I have is why are men falling behind academically?
This article tackles the question by stating “differences” between the genders: “From the early grades on up, girls tend to be better students. By the time college admissions come into the picture, many watchers of the “boy gap” agree, it’s too late for the lads to catch up on their own. Indeed, beginning in those formative K-12 years, girls watch less television, spend less time playing sports, and are far less likely to find themselves in detention. They are more likely to participate in drama, art, and music classes - extracurriculars that are catnip for admissions officers. Across the board, girls study more, score better, and are less likely to find themselves in special education classes.”
Now, I truly believe there has to be more to this story. What is our society doing wrong to young boys that leads them to play so many sports, study less, watch more TV and end up in detention?
As I searched for literature on this specific subject, I realized that most researchers have focused their attention on how women have been disadvantaged in higher education. Specifically, the main topics heavily researched are gender segregation in majors (1), women’s under-representation at top tier universities (2), and their underrepresentation in science and engineering (3) (4).
As Jackson Katz, in his documentary Tough Guise, described, issues with the dominant groups often go unexamined. The focus is always on a historically subordinated group and their shortcomings. This allows “the dominant group to remain invisible and protects the status quo.” In doing this, a disservice is being done to members of the historically dominant group. In this case, instead of making boys falling behind academically the main issue, instead it’s a question about girls. The literature that I did find that related to this issue, still focused on what was different about women that allowed them to overcome and reverse the gender gap in higher education.
In 1960, 65% of all bachelor’s degrees were awarded to men. By 2004, women received 58% of all bachelor’s degrees (4). Are women performing better academically now than they were 50 years ago?
In some regards yes, Hedges and Nowell (1995) studied data from 1960 to 1992 and found more variance in achievements tests for males. They also saw a gradual decrease in the male advantage in math and science, but no change in the female advantage in tests of reading and writing ability.
On the other hand, Alexander and Eckland (1974) showed that “despite female advantages in academic performance in high school, females from the class of 1972 were less likely to enroll in college than males” (4).
Girls have been outperforming boys academically in subjects they previously excelled in, as well as performing better in math and science.
What are girls doing differently to help them academically? It appears that it is their behavior in and outside of the academic setting that is putting the girls at an advantage. Teachers have consistently rated girls as putting forth more effort and being less disruptive (5). These behaviors are learned and part of the gender schemas we learn from the time we are born. What is encouraged for girls is different than what is encouraged for boys. We tend to allow more rowdy behaviors from boys because it is what we expect of them. At the same time, we may also be teaching boys that disruptive behavior is a good way of getting attention, and without meaning to, reinforcing the behavior (6). Plus what our culture, especially through our media, is teaching boys is that being a man means being tough, strong and fitting into our narrow definition of ideal masculinity (7).
Our culture is encouraging boys to play sports, be tough, and be manly. Is there room for academics in the current definition of masculinity? Young boys may be taking into account what’s socially acceptable or preferred when choosing between reading a book or playing football with his friends. Our culture encourages sports and competition and doesn’t focus enough time on academic achievement. This has been acknowledged even by a sports writer, ESPN writer LZ Granderson in his opinion article explaining why he’s encouraging his son to be “a nerd.” He admits that our culture emphasizes athletics over academics.
So the problem of not enough qualified male applicants that universities are facing will not go away unless we make a change in the way we develop gender schemas in our children. Universities are going to continue to find ways of maintaining their campus population close to a 50/50 male/female split.
Recommended reading: Annual Review Gender Inequalities in Education
1. Charles & Bradley, 2002; Jacobs, 1995; Turner & Bowen, 1999
2. Jacobs, 1999
3. Fox, 2001; Long, 2001; Xie and Shauman, 2003
4. Buchmann, C. & DiPrete, T.A. (2006). The growing female advantage in college completion: The role of family background and academic achievement. American Sociological Review, 71, 515-541.
5. Downey & Vogt Yuan, 2005
6. Virginia Valian, “Why so slow?”
7. Jackson Katz, Tough Guise
Why small colleges (for some students) are better than large universities
This is a guest post by our summer interns, Kristin Tate and Shachi Phene, undergrads at Emerson College and Bates College, respectively.
The idea of attending a college smaller than your high school may seem unthinkable, but ask current students at (or alumni of) small liberal arts colleges and you will generally get a far different response.
Why do thousands of students each year opt out of the stereotypical large college experience? Although a small liberal arts college may not be right for every student, there are many reasons why colleges with a freshman class of only 500 have more than 5,000 students applying to them each year (to use Bates as an example).
The most obvious benefit of a smaller college is the individualized attention given to each student by professors and deans. Students develop solid relationships – relationships that can last well beyond graduation. This can lead to great mentorship, guidance and support. At large universities, classes can have hundreds of students. Forget about getting your questions answered by a professor. At small colleges, the opposite is true. And, professors who know you well can write strong letters of recommendation for graduate school.
Small liberal arts colleges are also renowned for their sense of community. Since individual students can have a significant impact on the culture of their college, the campus identity is very much a projection of the student body. It is also easy to connect with students when you arrive on campus. There are fewer students – so your graduating class of 500 can become an extended family.
At a large university, it can be easy to get lost in the crowd. But, at a small liberal arts college, you can shine as a big fish in a small pond. Classmates will know your name, and your accomplishments are more likely to stand out. There are fewer distractions, allowing students to focus on making an impact. Finally, because campus organizations are smaller, it is easy to acquire leadership positions.
All of this is not to say that there are not also benefits to choosing a large university. In the end, it is important to visit each college that you are interested in before making a decision. The environment that feels right is the one for you!
Next week, stay tuned for a rebuttal on the benefits of large universities.
I’m not real sure what the big deal is here - “Liberal-Arts Colleges Venture Into Unlikely Territory: Online Courses.” Some of the comments at end make the online component seem like the sky is falling. From the article, it appears the online work will help engage students further and offer a tool for instructors to understand how their students are progressing. I’m sure that Bryn Mawr will be able to weather this storm. If I was an undergrad today, I would probably be shocked if there wasn’t some sort of means to engage with a course online. The ability for instructors to share and tie-in resources from both in-class discussion and relevant outside information expands students ability to learn and even works to meet different students’ learning styles.