You are on page 1of 6

Neal 1

Megan Neal Mr. Harrell English Composition I 16 October 2013

Liberal or Conservative, Do I Really Have to Pick? Have you ever thought of the benefits of attending a strict, conservative college opposed to the benefits of attending a liberal one? In the book, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, Kevin Roose shows how different the benefits of attending each one actually is. Being a transfer student from Brown University, Roose tests his ability to conform to Liberty University's strict code of conduct. With these two types of schools being polar opposites, there are several pros and cons to attending each one. Although, one can benefit from both a strict, conservative educational experience and a liberal education, the benefits of a strict, conservative educational experience would surpass the benefits gained in a liberal education. With structure being the most important asset in a strict, conservative university and freedom being the most important asset in a liberal educational experience, structure overall would be a more beneficial asset. Ultimately, Roose benefitted from attending Liberty University, a strict, conservative university, which gave him the opportunity to better not only himself academically but his religious beliefs as well. Roose proves how much more he benefitted from Liberty University than he ever did at Brown University when he writes, "These days, I go through the motions of a model Liberty

Neal 2

student. I attend prayer groups, I sing in the church choir, I spend my Friday nights at Bible study. When it comes to socializing, I follow the old Baptist moral code: 'Don't drink, smoke, or chew, and don't go with girls who do'" (5-6). There are possible health benefits one could gain by not going to a liberal university. At a strict, conservative university, drinking, smoking and partying are not allowed so one would be less likely to test their limits. While at a liberal school, they don't monitor their students' actions so one would be more likely to do so. Also Roose writes, "In nearly two months of booze-free Christian living and twice-a-week jogging, I've lost fifteen pounds without trying, and I forgot what a hangover feels like" (142). Maybe since Roose is not partying and drinking, he is losing weight. Roose also started jogging while he was at Liberty, which helped a lot in his fifteen pound weight loss because instead of drinking, Roose picked up a hobby that he may not have started if he would have stayed at Brown. If he would have stayed at Brown, he potentially could still be partying and drinking and negatively affecting his health. A strict, conservative educational experience may benefit ones health. Another way one benefits from a strict, conservative educational experience is by becoming more invested in their religious beliefs and even their grades. Roose proves his investment when he writes, "It's midnight at Liberty University, and I'm kneeling on the floor of my dorm room, praying" (1). Roose never prayed before attending Liberty, which proves that Liberty changed him and made him more invested in his religion. This is a benefit because the more Roose conforms to the Christian beliefs of his school, the less likely his is to get in trouble and make bad decisions. Roose proves his investment in his grades when he writes, Id feel differently if I were slacking off this semester, but I work twice as hard at Liberty as I ever did at Brown. I make lists. I design charts. For my Theology exam last week, I drew up a set of flash cards and took them everywhere I went (106). This is also a benefit because he is more focused

Neal 3

on his grades and is trying extremely hard to get good grades. The benefits of attending a strict, conservative school can range from performing better academically or becoming more invested in your religion. Another reason why one benefits from a strict, conservative educational experience is because it gives them the opportunity to start fresh or build a new identity for them self. Roose writes, "Starting a Facebook account from scratch is an unexpectedly gratifying experience. This new profile feels somehow cleaner, more virtuous than the old one. All the photos from sweaty frat parties are gone" (68). Since Brown and Liberty are two completely different schools, Roose felt the need to create a new Facebook. Roose felt new and refreshed after making the new profile. Roose took the opportunity to build a new identity, something he wouldn't of been able to do at Brown because he would have been too busy partying. Roose also writes, "But I can feel myself carving a second, smaller self out of the first, sort of, religious version of W.E.B. DuBois's double consciousness. And the Christian slice of my brain is more apt to give these things a fair shake" (79). Roose, again, is creating a fresh, new version of himself. Strict, conservative schools can completely change the person you are. When Roose writes, "In other words, just by being here, I'm already changing" (96). Just by going to a strict, conservative university, Roose is given the opportunity to start fresh and change and that's exactly what he is doing. If it wasnt for Rooses fresh start, he would have still been getting into a lot of trouble and that's how he benefitted from it. Although there are plenty of benefits from a strict, conservative educational experience, there are a few from a liberal education as well. The main benefit of a liberal education would be the freedom one would have to do what they want. Whether it is to party, drink, have sex or be wild, a liberal school isnt nearly as concerned as a conservative school would be. Roose writes,

Neal 4

Liberty, like many other evangelical colleges, has single-sex dorms with strict no-visitation policies. According to 'The Liberty Way,' 'entering the residence hall of the opposite sex or allowing the same' gets you eighteen reprimands, a $250 fine, and eighteen hours of community service (18). Roose had a lot of freedom while he was at Brown University compared to the freedom he lost at Liberty University. Liberal schools most important asset is freedom and that can be beneficial to a student depending on their priorities. Another benefit of attending a liberal school is diversity. At a liberal school you have plenty of students that have complete opposite views on several different topics. This diversity makes a school more interesting because they all dont have the same Christian view. Roose writes, "The first thought I had while walking through the museum was: Wow, this place really is a personality cult. What other living college president has an entire museum dedicated to him" (46)? Liberty students have an excessive public admiration for and devotion to Dr. Falwell and they all follow what he says and they feel the same way about it. This takes away from the diversity in a strict, conservative university and makes it more of a cult. Liberal universities are full of people who dont follow the same beliefs and will argue what they believe. Liberal schools definitely have a lot more diversity than conservative ones. One more benefit of attending a liberal school is that it is more open to letting students be themselves and not changing who they truly are. Roose writes, "At this school, we pray for everything: good grades, a winning football season, religious revival in America, chicken fingers in the dining hall" (1), which was a big change from Brown University. Roose proves that his old ways, in Brown University, had stuck with him though. This is proven when he gets in trouble for parting and posting the pictures online. A college shouldn't control everything a student does, especially drinking and going to parties and Roose shouldnt have had to change who he was

Neal 5

because of Liberty, even if it was for the better. Roose writes, "As funny as it was to hear the secrets of my Liberty friends brought out in the open, the confession lunch made me feel a little guilty. After all, I had an actual confession to make--- the big confession about who I am, what I believe, and why I came to Liberty. But I couldn't bring myself to make it" (274). Roose had to hide who he truly was while at Liberty. Roose also writes "Everyone around me in the arena is crying and to be honest, I don't know why I'm not. Maybe I spent all my sadness already. Maybe I'm too consumed with terrible skin-crawling guilt" (305). He was at a place that didn't approve of the actions he wanted to make and the ones he made before he got to Liberty and Roose felt guilty for hiding who he was. Liberal schools are more open to letting students be themselves and students dont have to hide who they are to blend in with everybody else. Both types of colleges would benefit a student in ways the other could not. In a strict, conservative educational experience, health may be improved, you become more invested in their religion, and they give the opportunity to build a new identity. In a liberal education, you have more freedom, there is more diversity and you can stay true to who you truly are. Though Roose did not continue his time at Liberty University, he still enjoyed and learned a lot of life lessons there. Not only did Roose learn a lot from this experience, he also changed a lot too. In the end, both types of schools have great impacts on people's lives and they both can be beneficial, but a conservative one has more positive benefits.

Neal 6

Work Cited Roose, Kevin. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinners Semester at Americas Holiest University. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2009. Print.