This I Believe

Kara - Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Entered on March 6, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

When my sister was looking for a college, she read books, talked to teachers and students, sent out applications, and then waited for responses. She got in everywhere she applied, but after crunching numbers and checking college rankings, she chose the school that was guaranteed to deposit her, after four years of study, directly into a high-paying accounting job.

Even though we’ve shared a room forever, my sister and I are different. Her college experience has served only to reinforce in me what I don’t want from my time in a “college bubble”. I’ve spent the last few months visiting more than 25 colleges all around the country; I’ve attended classes, slept in dorms, eaten college food and talked to many students. I drove myself crazy, convinced that the perfect college was out there and I had to find it. Finally, I realized that what I thought I had to find on some faraway campus was really something I had to find inside myself.

One of the most compelling things I have studied has been the Renaissance, the time period when a magical spark ignited and forged connections among ideas that had previously been separate. Michelangelo and da Vinci, two of the greatest artists of all time, were also two of the most amazing and progressive scientists. Erasmus, a great humanist, clearly saw the connection among all disciplines and the need to put values at the core of all thought. My dream is that college will be a chance to explore ideas in an environment where it’s safe to try on and discard schools of thought, majors, philosophies, while all the time being surrounded by others doing the same thing, people who will become close friends not just for college, but for all of my life.

I believe that a liberal arts college is the perfect education, and that learning all different subjects will led me to be a success in whatever field I choose. I was struck by how perfectly former Bowdoin College President William Hyde put it in his “Offer of the College”. It describes everything I believe in:

TO BE AT HOME in all lands and all ages;

To count Nature a familiar acquaintance,

And Art an intimate friend;

To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work

And the criticism of your own;

To carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket,

And feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake;

To make hosts of friends…

Who are to be leaders in all walks of life;

To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms

And cooperate with others for common ends —

This is the offer of the college for the best four years of your life.

If, during my college years, I learn to make all the world my home, to appreciate the beauties of art and nature, and connect with others in both work and play, I believe that this will be the highest level of education that anyone can receive.