Friday, June 24, 2011

An Introduction to Liberal Arts

Today, we went north to the scenic Hudson River Valley to check out the campuses of Bard College and Vassar College. As a big fan of liberal arts colleges, I was very excited particularly because I had read a lot about Vassar and am planning on apply there.

Bard was our first visit.

I found Bard’s moderation requirement, which is their way of declaring a major, to be very interesting. A student is required to write an analysis of the courses they have taken at Bard, what they liked and disliked, what they excelled in and the areas that gave them a hard time. They then have a meeting with their adviser and two professors from the departments they are interested in and must present their case. The purpose of this process is to have the student do some personal reflection and for the professors to help the students really think their options through. This indicates to me that no student will ever be lost in the crowd and the professors offer support to students through every step of the way.
The Bard College admissions office.
Mrs. Lilhanand inside the Bard admissions office.

Following our tour of Bard and prior to our time at Vassar, we stopped by the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The view from FDR's home.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's home.
I love Vassar.

My favorite part of Vassar is its open curriculum. The type of freedom this type of curriculum offers definitely appeals to me because it gives me the opportunity to tailor my courses specifically to my interests. The city of Poughkeepsie is pretty big with 100,000 residents, but it did not look that way to me. I am not sure what kind of relationship the city has with the college, but Vassar did not seem to be very removed nor integrated. It seemed like the city ended where the campus began.

A Vassar dorm.

I was very impressed with the dorms. Vassar’s housing system is designed so that students live in one dormitory for their first three years and then in apartment-style housing during their senior year.

Our conversations over dinner with current Columbia students Matt and Andrea were a wonderful taste of what life at Columbia is like. Andrea was very personable and she knew a lot about Columbia (she’s even a Columbia tour guide). She was also very open to discussing her experience with college applications.

Now that we have visited a range of schools, from small to big, liberal arts to pre-professional, I now know that I feel more at home at a small liberal arts college.

1 comment:

  1. Beilul,

    Sounds like you found a place to live for the first four years after you leave Hercules.

    The way you described Vassar's moderation requirement sounds so improbable at a school like Cal where the number of students is so large that the professors would be working 24/7 just on these touchy feely sessions with the students and then have no time left to actually teach. Vassar truly sounds like a "liberal" arts school.