I believe in the importance of a liberal education. Not liberal in any political sense, but in the sense of being broadly educated. I recently graduated from a small liberal arts school, and the quality of the education I received is difficult to convey in words. It was an all-encompassing experience: educational, social, and moral.
Since I have graduated, I have come to appreciate the differences in my education and those who have specialized in a very specific field. This is an age of specialists, not generalists. I for one, believe our society is poorer for this reason. Specialization is what graduate school is for. Don’t misunderstand me, without specialists, the quality of our medical care would be questionable, our legal representation farcical, and many other skills upon which our society relies would be diminished. But, by the same token, what kind of society exists when the citizens cannot appreciate literature, music, science, politics, and economics? What good can come of undergraduates studying only criminal justice or business administration?
In a social sense, my college is like a miniature Athens. The community between students is strong, alumni are concerned and involved, and the administration is committed. The social environment feeds off of the educational discourse. Intellectual debates last long into the night. Living in close proximity to those with whom you study creates lasting and important bonds between people. The most important friends I have, I met in those late night dormitory debates. I stay in touch with my friends nearly every day. When I crave intellectual discussion, a dozen friends are only a phone call or email away. They are extremely intelligent people, and have been an extremely positive impact on my life, as I hope I have been on theirs. I still keep in touch with my professors, whom I feel comfortable asking about any topic, not just their academic discipline. My debt to them is eternal.
The liberal arts education, I think, endows one with a particular moral sense of the world. The liberal arts graduate, because of his or her education, has a particular concern for current events, and the broad education is at least partially responsible for this. Professors taught me that there is so much to see and appreciate in the world, and that through my efforts, I can change the world and improve it. The liberal arts education creates intellectually curious people, and for this I am truly grateful. Broad education is something that I will promote and in which I will believe and support, as an alumnus, and hopefully someday as a professor myself.
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