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The value of a Liberal Arts Education

Guest Blogger Vids Hingad is an international student at Pomona College.

A liberal arts education is like a thali. I promise you this analogy makes sense- just stick with me! Just like the Thali is a large plate in which a plethora of dishes are served, a liberal arts education is like tasting different flavours of areas of knowledge which eventually develops your taste buds to their maximum potential. You are required to explore 6 different area breadth requirements which all stimulate different parts of inquiry that equip you with important skills. It is often misunderstood to be broad, but just like once you find your favourite entrée, you can guiltlessly savour it and continue pursuing it. You can genuinely have the cake and eat it too (in fact not just cake but mithai or mochi donuts or fried cheesecake – the possibilities are limitless).

This was my understanding of what liberal arts meant before I actually came to Pomona, but now that I am here and almost done with a semester, does the definition still hold truth? Here are the highlights of a week in my life at Pomona College.

  • Submit a psychology lab on the reconstructive nature of memory

  • Dance the American Viennese Waltz at a Ballroom dance class with Dr. Machin

  • Attend a talk by Angela Davis about collaborations, communities, and collectives at the Big Bridges Auditorium

  • Dump your best friend into a fountain on her 18th birthday

  • Submit a collection of 3 poems to Agave Review for their fall issue

  • Complete a linguistic analysis on the indexicalities of verbal fillers and their effect on perceived competency in the corporate world

  • Go to Shaila Aunty (who is the campus mom)’s house for chai to feel connected to your roots

  • Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your spring semester schedule

  • Complete a psychology quiz on exposure-based therapy for Phobias and Anxiety and the effects of Rumination

  • Enjoy a 2000s themed party with life-sized arcade games

  • Attend a weekly mock-trial meeting and discuss cross-witness demeanour

  • Go to a mentor session to complete a macroeconomics problem set that analyses whether the self-correcting mechanism or fiscal policies are more effective in closing recessionary gaps

  • Attend a Tamasha bollywood dance workshop on Ainvayi Ainvayi and Hauli Hauli

  • Babysit your favourite theatre director’s daughter (she is adorable)

  • Meet with professor Smiley - who doesn’t even teach you, but you find her research on child development interesting

  • Go to a Jeremy Zucker concert at the Novo in LA with your best friends

  • Discuss your upcoming paper on the derogatory language used in item songs in Bollywood during office hours with Professor Divita

  • Meet with the library assistant to find a special research collection on the effect of gendered marketing for toys on toddlers

  • Jam at a fun Karaoke session with your sponsor group in the student lounge (scream your lungs out when you sing Bohemian Rhapsody)

  • Submit a sociology essay proposal on how social structures influenced the role of women in Nazi Germany

  • Eat a burrito bowl for dinner with your international mentor (ISMP mentor) and reflect on your wellbeing

  • Play antakshari at the hindi-urdu language tables at Oldenbourg

  • Watch your roommate perform as Elle Woods at her musical theatre debut called Don’t tell mama

  • Perform a spoken word at the First Year Open Mic event

  • Participate in Mock trial Scrimmage on the weekend

  • Celebrate Diwali by eating snacks and lighting diyas in the quad

And I know you’re reading this mum… Don’t worry, I got an average of 7 hours of sleep every day!

A liberal arts curriculum means holistic learning, both in terms of what you learn and how you learn it. It means taking a wide variety of subjects that better equips you to tackle obstacles in the future. It means engaging with your professors on a one-to-one basis as well as discussing your ideas in class. It means challenging yourself to think in different ways and arrive at innovative conclusions.

When I got into Pomona College on the 13 of February 2021, my dream had come true. I had a dream of going to a college where every moment is valuable. A place where every experience builds on what I know of myself, and the serendipity of finding unknown defines your path. A place where finding a physics-theatre or a math-politics major is not uncommon. A place where I know that I belong and I have a home even 14,000 km away. A place where I truly feel liberated. A place where my art is a small part of a collaborative constellation that promotes authenticity and creation. I dreamed a dream before coming to Pomona. It persists to unfold and unravel in the most beautiful ways every day. And the best part is that it has only just begun.

Interested in a Liberal arts education? Join our session with Pomona College, Williams College, Bowdoin College, Carleton College and Amherst College on Nov 18. Register here.

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