Friday, November 1, 2013

Why Liberal Arts?

My name is Shruthi Kamisetty and I’m a sophomore at Mac. I grew up partly in Portland, Oregon, but still call Bangalore, India, home. I love Macalester so much and hope to give you more insight into liberal arts education. I had never heard of it when I was going to school in India, so this blog post will be focused on the distinctive features of a liberal arts college.

So, what makes a liberal arts education distinctive? A year into college at Macalester, I think I’m well equipped to give you an idea about my experience and why I think it stands with the best that America has to offer. Over the last few months I have realized that many people don’t know much about liberal arts colleges. Many think that all you study are the humanities and you don’t gain any lab experience. So I've set out to explain to you what makes a liberal arts education so special. Who better to explain this  than a liberal arts student? 

My classes really had a deep impact on me. I remember my first semester having a compulsory writing course called Minding the Body, a cross between Psychology and Women’s Studies. I didn't think I had any particular interest in those disciplines apart from being a proponent of women's rights, but the course changed the way I think,  and I really became more confident in my opinions and my ability to talk with other people. Before that I was a shy and sheltered kid who had a hard time sharing my big opinions. That course, which was highly discussion based, allowed me to speak my mind and make some great friends.

My classmates were 15 incredibly smart people and my teacher was one amiable professor who made sure everyone opened up. Along with being our academic advisor, this professor really cared about us and our well being—she even cooked for us once! She got to know us well and understood each of our natures in just four months. Here I formed some meaningful relationships with my peers and professor, understood perspectives from people of varied backgrounds, and learned how to discuss and converse in a college setting.

By being in a small classroom setting, I was also able to demonstrate to the professor that I'm a smart kid who really wants to learn and works hard. The relationship I developed with her will help me in the future with recommendations to graduate schools, internships, and fellowships. Plus, I really did learn about something far from my biology major but very important in today's increasingly competitive world: unattainable beauty standards.

There are many more distinctive features of liberal arts colleges, but I’ll have to save those for my next blog post.

Image is from the Mac Global Ambassadors celebrating Holi, the 'Festival of Colors'. Shruthi is in the front row, third from the right. 

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