Arts & Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them

crucial info every student should know about college

by Christine Henseler

paper and write down everything that you are curious about, and more: everything you’d love to learn and experience. This exercise is about you. So, stay true to yourself and write down as much as you can, without thinking about what your parents might want you to learn, what your friends are doing, or what society says you should pursue, ok? Stay authentic. Stay true to yourself. Let me repeat: do not start by identifying pos- sible majors or possible jobs, because this ap- proach will immediately narrow your future based on what you know now. And college is all about expanding and challenging what you know now, to open your mind to new ideas and careers. This freedom to explore any and all possible subjects is what leads to surprising discover- ies and career paths that evolve from making unexpected connections or thinking outside one’s comfort zones. And that’s what “liberal” education and the “Liberal Arts” is all about. It

I came to the United States as an international stu- dent, with very little money. I had no clue, none whatsoever, as to the nature of colleges and uni- versities in the US. I won’t bore you with the de- tails, except to tell you that there is a lot I wish I had known before I started college, because you can make better decisions with more informa- tion. So, here is what I would suggest to any stu- dent considering going to college (or not) to think about: Let’s start with the money. Yeah, it’s important. It’s important for you to start the process of deciding on a college by first stepping back from all exter - nal materials, messages, and pressures, and first reflecting realistically on your financial situation. Specifically, you might want to ask yourself: What is the financial situation that I (or my parents or mentors or friends--whoever is paying for col- lege) can live with? This means being realistic. A conversation about finances needs to be open, honest, and transparent, since overspending can affect everyone for years to come. And to remem -

ber that when you overextend yourself fi - nancially, you will ultimately hurt your own future in ways that can be more detrimental than choosing a less-expensive college. Don’t forget that there is money to be found through financial aid, grants and fellow - ships. This kind of legwork can quite liter- ally pay off. Also, having a part-time job dur - ing college often makes you more focused on academic work. But be smart, and don’t just get any job. If you can, try finding a job in a field you are passionate about, because each job opens the door to a next one, and a next one. And sometimes the best way to get those jobs is to knock on doors, to have conversations, to ask questions, to show interest, and maybe even volunteer a few hours to get your foot in the door. Then, sit down and reflect on the learnings that you would most enjoy. Do not start by answering the question: what major do you want to pursue? Sit down with a piece of


Arts & Humanities

Don’t Leave College Without Them


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