Life at a Liberal Arts College

Going to a liberal arts college is sort of like going to a chichi summer camp. Everyone’s pretty isolated from the outside world, wears a lot of flannel, and talks a lot about their feelings. I went to Eugene Lang, which was a little different because unlike most liberal arts colleges, there wasn’t much of a campus and its location was in the middle of downtown Manhattan. We also received actual letter grades instead of like a smiley face or a frowny face.

The classes, the students, and the homework assignments were so liberal artsy though. I once took a class called Religion, Spirituality, and Feminism in which I interviewed ordained lesbian priests for my final project. The final was totally open ended. You could kind of do whatever you wanted and one girl decided to do a performance art piece that involved her strumming the guitar and crying for no apparent reason. I think she got an ‘A’.

Don’t get me wrong though. As goofy as the assignments sometimes were, I often learned a lot and had fun. In my Intermediate Journalism class, we started a blog and had to report on something once a week, and since I’m clearly no Woodward and Bernstein, I decided to just make funny videos instead.

This video was shot in a day and consisted of my friend and I calling various new luxury hotels that were bogged down with delays because of the crappy economy. Another video we did revolved around the new luxury apartments in Williamsburg that had barely any occupancy rate because of—you guessed it!— the crappy economy. Basically everything I did in that class had to do with the recession because it was 2008 and no one had any money except for the kids I went to school with.

My favorite part of liberal arts school were the classroom discussions. Lang classes were entirely socratic seminar, which meant that people just talked. A lot. Some people would be perpetually outraged and pick fights with people. Others would come to class carrying a $5,000 bag and a coffee from Dean & Deluca looking totally over it. These rich kids were the best though because you could tell the teachers would just sort of be like, “How are your shoes nicer than mine?” I once had a professor who was this major successful author, had lots of money, and a girl in my class actually lived in the same fancy building as her. Only at a liberal arts college would a student be able to afford the same bourgie apartment as her teacher.

One of the perks of attending liberal arts college is that you’ll usually have a C-list celebrity in your class. Stacey Farber from Degrassi was in one of my writing classes, socialite Olivia Palermo from The City roamed our halls looking confused and expensive, Jesse Eisenberg was in a math class with one of my friends and a real life prince even went to Lang for, like, a day.

It’s really easy to mock a liberal arts college because it can be a ridiculous place that attracts a lot of ridiculous people. But if you have the opportunity to actually go, you should do it because you can shockingly learn a lot and get individual attention in small classes. Like with most things, it’s kind of all what you make of it. If you want to spend four years developing a drug problem and getting in Paper magazine, you can and you will probably even still get okay grades. But if you want to actually use the amazing resources that a school that costs $40,000 a year can provide, you can do that too. Just whatever you end up doing, don’t complain about it. There’s nothing worse than a privileged liberal arts student complaining about the limited vegan options at the cafeteria and organizing a protest about it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Island Photography

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

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