The Advantage of a Liberal Arts Living Space

You wake up in your senior year apartment and you head through the house towards the bathroom. On the way, you side step one roommate's books with gray scale covers about the Holocaust, and an unbalanced stack of novels about the 1960's and the Cold War. Passing the kitchen table you rub your eyes and notice your other roommate laid his ruler precariously on its edge, alongside some graph paper and numerous number two pencils. Nearly to the bathroom, you find the disheveled notebook you left there the night before, which holds your notes on The Scarlet Letter and the essay you've been desperately trying to write.

Now, maybe this isn't everyone's morning, but in the life of a student at a public liberal arts college, it's pretty much par for the course. When you leave home and move onto campus at 18, you expect a lot of new things. New professors, new peers, learning to navigate the pathways of campus--that's what you're warned about. Your parents probably told you that "your roommates don't have to be your best friends, you just have to live with them" which set you up for expecting someone messier, or neater, than you and who really doesn't like your taste in music.

In a way, those things will all happen, but what you never really expect is the difference a liberal arts experience is about to make for you. At a liberal arts college diversifying your areas of study is not only embraced, it's encouraged. In the classroom you'll have a mixture of subjects: History, Art, English, Mathematics--you name it, a liberal arts college will have it. You probably expected that when you chose a liberal arts education, but what you might not have been prepared for was the way it influences your living space for the next four years as well.

More likely than not, your roommates won't share your major, and you'll definitely all be taking different interdisciplinary courses. Here's where your academic choice of school influences your social life. Your room will be a mess of textbooks on psychology, and education, and statistics. The people you share a small room with will be filling that space with as many varying topics of discussion and study as there are colors under the sun. The one thing your parents (or anyone else who isn't from your school) won't tell you about is how beneficial a liberal arts living space is to you--not only as a student, but also as a person.

The liberal arts are designed to keep your brain engaged: every day they challenge you to think in new ways, causing your brain to adopt new ways of thinking. You'll find that you not only have insightful interpretations of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, you'll also have the skills to look critically at historical events and compare them to modern day political interactions. You'll recognize the different solutions to the problems you face: whether it's an English essay or a difference of opinion with a roommate. When you enter a liberal arts living space, the people you spend your time with (regardless of what they study and whether or not their taste in music is terrible) will help you become a well-rounded student and individual. They demonstrate every day how valuable differing perspectives are to your academic and social experience at college.

When you immerse yourself in diverse areas of study, you'll find that your openness to new social experiences is heightened. You may study abroad, knowing that you have the open mind required to learn about new cultures. You might discover that the Women and Gender Studies major down the hall that you were initially afraid to talk to loves the same TV shows as you, and her thought-provoking commentary makes you look at it in a new light. The liberal arts open your opportunities because you're not afraid to challenge yourself to see something in a new light and learn from it. The diverse atmosphere of people and topics enhances your ability to coexist in nearly any social climate. You can hold a conversation with a professor about politics; meanwhile at home you guide your roommate on the best formatting tips for their research paper.

When you step out of the shower in the morning, preparing yourself for History of Psychology at 10 a.m. and your English literature capstone later that day, you'll most likely find your roommates up and about. One will be packing his red calculator into his backpack, asking you to make some coffee that he can take to his teaching assistantship in statistics. Meanwhile, your second roommate will be winding a scarf around her neck asking if you've seen her notebook for her Philosophy and the Holocaust course. They will ask you how your English class is going, and if you're still struggling with overcoming writer's block for your essay.

As you leave your roommates and enter the classroom, you'll look back on your morning, and the past four years, and wonder if anyone else has influences like these in their lives--and if you could be any happier to have chosen a liberal arts living space.