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Conner Houlette

Professor (Dr.) Farr


10/21/15

Liberally Educated
What can we really get out of a college education? There are many
ways to answer this question that it is almost impossible to figure out.
Liberal education provides a diverse experience within a community of
educated students, a hopeful future for an academic career, and
opportunities to study at a higher level to face academic challenges, all in
order to explore ones passion and make it a reality. In his article Only
Connect, William Cronon states that liberally educated people have been
liberated by their education to explore and fulfill the promise of their highest
talents (1). It is at college where we figure out our true identity as an
individual and as a student body, but what motivates us to do these higher
level objectives in order to reach our dreams?
First off, diversity is one of the most important elements in todays
liberal education. I consider this to be true because diversity in general feels
more like a requirement (Cronon, 2) rather than merely stating the fact
that diversity is this way to find ones true self in college. If students have
some exposure to different groups of people (whether it is ethnic, social,
religious and so on) and have been offered a wealth of opportunities, then
they will have a better chance at finding their own way in life. In other
words, they are escaping from their tunnel vision and emerging outside to
gain a panoramic perspective of the world and a more complete view of

their place in it (Hyman, Lynn, USNews.com). Personally, I felt like


transitioning from high school to college really increased the diversity of the
population that I was in and it really made me feel more comfortable to
participate in other academic and co-curricular activities. I did not feel like I
was much of an important person other than performing well in school
academically. In college, I can really depend on what I do socially,
academically, and physically without having to worry about what everyone
else thinks. In reality, a diverse population relates to different sets of minds
and I know that there will be at least someone out there who will understand
me in a direct and positive way. In that sense, I really do think that once a
student enters college, they are really going to feel like there is something to
do that is possible for them.
When we know that something is possible, we cling on to some hope
that what we can do is possible. That is what a liberal education can offer
us, a chance to be great at something that we, as a student body, previously
did not think of before. For example, seeing ourselves as if we are of value
or self-worth to the world as well as having a sense of perceived
confidence that is positively associated with hope (Marques,
NASPOnline.org). Students perform better under this influence of hope,
typically having a more optimistic mind, being capable of solving problems
that may arise, as well as developing many life goals (Marques,
NASPOnline.org). It is so important to understand that a liberal education is
a place for everyone to feel like they belong and to feel successful, no matter

what the individual is supposed to be. This is what helps us maintain our
hope towards the future.
In terms of solving problems, it is nonexistent to find a college that
doesnt provide any sort of challenge for a student in order for them to
become successful. Academic rigor is an important tool for colleges to
prepare students for what lies ahead. Even William Cronon explains this in
his list of how people recognize liberally educated people (3). He goes on
by stating that these people respect rigor not so much for its own sake but
as a way of seeking truth (4). A true liberally educated person wants to
learn more whenever possible and they know that they have to surmount to
some challenges to get there. However, if a student is only attending college
in order to graduate, then whats the point of having to take a liberal
education in the first place? Whats the point of having to challenge that
student countless ways, only to realize that it was all for nothing? Whats the
point of having a frequent mindset of requirements rather than looking for
love at the end of the tunnel? Amid all these requirements we may be
tempted to forget the ultimate purpose of this thing we call a liberal
education (Cronon, 2). This quote is the premise of defining our way of
thinking when confronted with a challenging academic problem. In the
present, we, as a community, are being hypnotized to think that what we do
in the classroom is a means to an end. Of course, we do in fact find
ourselves struggling through tough challenges along the way, but are we
doing it for a purpose? Is there any purpose for a college education if we

decide to finish what we started? Answering yes to these questions raises


the assumption that you just want to get by with a job that will lead to a
normal life. However, answering no states that finding a lifelong career that
is meaningful to you is your primary focus. Saying no is what every student
should answer in the back of their minds in order to chase their dreams.
When I try to answer some of these questions, I still find myself
reverting back to the main point but also realizing something else. That
college itself does not completely spark the education, but the true
determining factor is on the students. That which colleges give solely
depends on the individuals themselves and their commitment to find their
true and inner being within the world. It is true that a liberal education
should have some diversity, hope, and complexity, but these are only tools
to help guide the individual to his or her own human freedom (Cronon, 5).
As Cronon would state, Liberal education in particular is about nurturing
human freedom (5). Whether we are talking about diversity, hope, or
complexity, they all have similar goals and that is finding our true inner-self
that makes a college education very worthwhile.

Works Cited
Cronon, William. "" Only Connect..." The Goals of a Liberal Education." The
American Scholar
(1998): 73-80.
Hyman, Jeremy, and Lynn Jacobs. "Why Does Diversity Matter in College
Anyway? U.S.
News. 12 Apr. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
Marques, Susana, and Shane Lopez. "Research-Based Practice." Building
Hope in Our Children.
NASPOnline.org. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.