Why I Like the Liberal Arts
Blogger: Sarah Schmitz
Hi! I’m Sarah, a 20 year old sophomore from Houston, Texas. I work as a social media and web intern as well as a campus tour guide for the Office of Admission. Additionally I’m a writer for HerCampus Occidental (http://www.hercampus.com/school/oxy/) and I co-host a weekly radio show for KOXY, our on-campus, student-run radio station (shameless plug: tune in to www.koxyradio.com every Thursday at 9pm). I’m also a member of Hillel, and in the past I have volunteered as a tutor and worked as a part of a film crew on campus. Am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah, I’m also a student here.
But really, academics have always been my favorite part of Oxy. Here are some stand out classes that I’ve had during the last year and a half: Genocide and Modernity, Stupidity, The Death of Hip Hop: Liner Notes to an Aesthetic Theory, and Sociocultural Foundations of Education. I’ve loved my classes because, for one, they were taught by fearless professors who broke down controlling ideologies. Whenever I wonder what it would’ve been like had I chosen to attend another college, I remember the kind of work I’m doing in my classes. I really, genuinely believe that no other undergraduate school could beat the education I’m receiving at Oxy. I’ve felt that my classes here are not only “interesting,” in that they strike my attention because they’re uncommonly taught topics, but also that some have impacted my development as a person and the way I see the world.
A lot of Oxy students will tell you about this strange phenomenon of seemingly unrelated classes connecting with one another. I was really surprised when I realized what I was learning in my Genocide class could be applied to my Death of Hip Hop, Biology, and Stupidity classes. But I’ve learned now that that connection is kind of the whole ‘point’ of a liberal arts education. To clarify, ‘liberal arts’ refers to the interdisciplinary nature of what you are learning. Liberal arts does not mean that there are no grades, work, or that the material is “liberal” politically or artistic. Liberal arts means that both the individual classes you take and your cumulative academic experience will be a synthesis across a variety disciplines.
Some people might argue that studying a broad range of material gives you ‘breadth’ over ‘depth,’ but the intersectionality and connectedness that comes out of studying multiple disciplines deepens your understanding of whatever you’re learning. In this way, the liberal arts system allows for a deeper, fuller, more complex education exactly because it is interdisciplinary. The connections I’ve made in my classes so far have enriched my academic experience and worldview, and I look forward to how these connections will continue to develop over my next two years at Oxy.