College experience as valuable as its tuition

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As the Board of Trustees slaps a $46,700 dollar price tag on a single year as a student at DePauw University, we've heard much grumbling and whining. But beyond that, a common justification for this "uncommon success" is that we're receiving a "liberal arts education."

Yet upon asking most of the student body what this actually entails, I've often been met with blank stares and uninformed ramblings about art classes and the 2-2-2 system.

We need to be informed about just how valuable our diploma will be at the end of this four-year journey, not only to employers, but to us. With 4,000 colleges in America to choose from, what makes this one worth its cost? I spoke with admissions counselor Jennifer Byers, who understands better than most what liberal arts means in its truest sense.

In the classroom, she says, "We concentrate on making sure our students can speak well, write effectively, communicate and get their point across. It's learning for the sake of learning, and the heart of the liberal arts education is making sure that our students are always seeking more knowledge and looking at multiple sides of an argument."            

DePauw specifically falls into the category of liberal arts thanks to the style and setup of our curriculum, which is divided into thirds. One third focuses on our major, another to subjects required for graduation (that aforementioned 2-2-2 program), and the last to electives, allowing us to explore other interests outside our concentration. We're not pigeonholed into studying one thing.             

Another reason liberal arts helps us is that we have smaller class sizes, averaging at 18 and capped at 35. We receive more individual attention from our professors who actually make an effort to be available to us (for anyone who's ever had a 1:30 a.m. meeting with Sununu – I think you know what I'm talking about), and we can actively participate more in our classrooms than we would be able to in lecture halls.            

Liberal arts also attract a more diverse population than other institutions, bringing so many more new ideas to the table, which helps open our minds and rethink old perceptions. So when you walk into class, be thankful that you get to sit between a someone from Ghana and someone from rural Indiana, because both of them have so much to offer that you probably never would have learned sitting with 500 other students at a state school.            

Being 100 percent residential is also a facet of liberal arts colleges that Byers stressed, explaining that "part of the environment is believing that it's not just inside the classroom that you're learning, it's what you're learning outside as well." This leads us to be those overachieving and overscheduled leaders that we all are, running from meeting to meeting every day. As it turns out, those meetings and leadership positions do more than pad your resume – we're learning how to work with others and balance our commitments.             

So as we, and our families, start to pay this higher tuition, I think maybe we should relax and remember that we're making an investment. Yes, it's expensive, but a liberal arts education will allow us to grow into people that adapt and continue learning, not simply as future employees, but as well-rounded adults with so much to offer the world post-graduation. 

— Bremer is a sophomore from Clarendon Hills, Ill., majoring in communications.

opinion@thedepauw.com