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Tagged: Liberal arts

Freshman Files: Liberal arts on a block plan

March 5th, 2018

Today Amy J. shares her unique experience as a first-year student at Colorado College.  CC is one of only a handful of schools that operate on a block plan:  full immersion into a single course, devoting all energies to completing a semester’s work in 3 ½ weeks.  Over the course of the academic year, students complete just as many courses as they would in a traditional semester schedule.  The students and professor become a team, in a way, and as classes at Colorado College are small it’s quite a remarkable environment.

We’re grateful that Amy is willing to share her experience as a new student at Colorado College and wish her continued success and happiness ahead!

Academics: Block plan makes the academics at CC pretty intense. All freshmen start … with the First Year Experience (FYE), a two-block class of their choice … and the professors teaching FYE usually offer more help to these freshmen for their transition to college. My FYE was introduction to comparative literature, and it was especially challenging for me due to the fast pace of a “block” – we finished our discussion of a book in two to three days on average, and sometimes it was just one day for one book. The first week was probably the hardest: we finished Homer’s Iliad in five days! … But luckily, … I found our professor’s lecture so fascinating. … She also invited us to her house for the first Sunday’s brunch, and it was a great experience!

We had another professor teaching us for the second block of FYE …The reading load each day was still a challenge to me, but … I gained confidence in my writing through the paper grades and my two professors’ encouraging comments. …

The third block I took elementary French I, and … learning a language in a block was intense in that we had 3 hours of online practice as homework every day…

Activities: … My Priddy trip (a five-day outdoor and service trip mandatory for every new student to participate before school starts) to Santa Fe was actually my first time going overnight camping and seeing the starry, starry night. … The last night in Santa Fe national forest was my favorite – our group merged with another group that camped nearby, and sitting around a bonfire, we got to know each other, chatted, and asked our leaders questions about CC life. The ambience was fantastic. …

My next outdoor experience at CC was rock climbing on the first Saturday after school started. Again it was my first rock climbing experience – although it was scary at times when I couldn’t find a spot to place my feet, it was a lot of fun! From then on, I began to love this sport.

The third one was my FOOT trip, a 5-day backpacking trip during the first block break specially organized for freshmen to further experience the outdoors in Colorado. We went to a place called “Lost Creek Wilderness” and I was really impressed by the beautiful aspens whose leaves turned yellow in late September. The views were fantastic, as if in a dream. …

The fourth one was another rock-climbing in a nearby mountain. It was a trip included in the “rock school” – a class teaching rock climbing skills that I signed up for …

My fifth outdoor experience was phenomenal: I went on a 10-day road trip to several national parks with some other international students and some Americans who did not go back home during the Thanksgiving break. We went to Canyonlands National Park in Utah, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Zion and Bryce national parks in Utah. I witnessed, for so many times, the magic of mother Nature in this trip… Amazing. I was so so lucky. CC is definitely my place.

Something about CC’s outdoor culture:  The Outdoor Education Center is a big part at CC. Students can take trainings to become a backcountry level 1, 2 or even level 3 leader, or a leader in other tracks such as rock climbing and skiing. Then these student leaders can plan and lead their trips.  Students can simply sign up for a trip on “Summit” (a website) and most trips do not cost much. Therefore, people who love outdoor sports will definitely love CC!

Overall, my first semester at CC was wonderful and full of new and exciting experiences. I think that block breaks really give students a lot of opportunities to travel and to have fun. …

Though blocks are hard, my first semester’s experience clearly proved what I had said in my application essay: CC is my best fit.

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You can do anything: The “surprising power” of a liberal arts education

November 13th, 2017

Many of you have heard me say that a liberal arts education is ideal for learning how to learn – in fact, you might have had trouble getting me to stop talking about it!

As a graduate of a liberal arts college myself, I have always stood behind the view that a liberal arts education develops analytical and creative thinking skills, oral and written communication skills, and equips students for a life of learning and adapting to new environments.  Although a liberal arts education isn’t the right path for everyone, it has tremendous value.

In today’s blog, we share Inside Higher Ed’s interview with author George Anders about his book, You Can Do Anything.  Anders shares useful data to support his opinion that a liberal arts degree is deepening in value, given major changes happening in the job market today.  The underlying theory is that those who have not simply acquired a finite knowledge set, but who know how to learn and pivot, have tremendous opportunities in the long run.  

Article below referenced from Inside Higher Ed

Robots are taking over the world (and the job market). Majoring in anything but a science or engineering discipline is foolhardy. A humanities or social science degree will get you a great job — as a barista.

Right?

Read enough internet headlines and all of those might seem not only feasible but inevitable. But like many sweeping, future-looking statements, those and other proclamations about the decline and fall of the liberal arts should be taken with a truckload of salt.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed >>

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Soft Skills Crucial to Career Success

October 31st, 2016

The presidential election is right around the corner, and for many months we have been hearing politicians voice their opinions about a large number of topics.  One topic being debated is how higher education can help students and employers bridge the skills gap in the workforce.

Some say it is most beneficial to focus on specific workforce training.  However, a new book, Beyond the Skills Gap:  Preparing Students for Life and Work, posits that there are many more aspects to consider.

As the article we’re linking to today details, the authors of this book discuss “soft skills” that many employers say are missing from their young employees.  Such skills include work ethic, communication and teamwork.  They also suggest that employers can play an important part in training young employees to be effective in their work.

For those who doubt the value of the liberal arts in developing effective workplace contributors, this article – indeed, this book – will provide interesting food for thought.

Article below published October 26, 2016

Written by:  Scott Jaschik

Politicians (and plenty of educators) talk about the “skills gap” and suggest ways that higher education can do a better job of preparing students for careers. The authors of a new book very much want students to go on to successful careers. But their research in Wisconsin suggests that both employers and students need more from higher education. Their findings are based on in-depth interviews with employers and observation of classrooms that mix skills training specific to careers with the soft skills that many fear are being ignored in the current environment.

Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work (Harvard Education Press) is the result of this research. The book is by Matthew T. Hora, assistant professor in adult teaching and learning at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, with Ross J. Benbow, an associate researcher with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Amanda K. Oleson, an education scholar focused on workforce pathways. Hora and Benbow responded to questions via email. Their responses have been condensed slightly for space.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed >>

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Goldman Sachs video interviews help cast wider net

August 1st, 2016

Edith Cooper, Goldman’s global head of human capital management said: “We want to hire not just the economics or business undergraduate but there is that pure liberal arts or history major that could be the next Lloyd Blankfein.”

Goldman Sachs, a multi-national investment banking firm, is now using video technology to improve the way they hire candidates.  Goldman has for many years hired college students for summer or full-time positions after graduation.  They typically limited their recruitment to about 400 colleges and universities with on-campus interviews.

Now, Goldman plans to open their search globally by using video interviews, hoping to gain more diverse employees with a wider range of backgrounds.  It’s nice to think that our Shrop Ed Skype meetings may prove an excellent training ground for such interviews.

Will other major companies follow, and will undergraduates everywhere find that they have greater access to high-powered career opportunities?  Today’s digitally savvy students are very well poised to capitalize on this trend, if so.

Article published June 24, 2016

Goldman Sachs is scrapping face-to-face interviews on university campuses in a bid to attract a wider range of talent.  The US investment bank will switch to video interviews with first-round undergraduate candidates from next month.  Each year the bank hires about 2,500 students as both summer and full-time analysts.  Goldman hoped the move will allow it to find students from a broader range of disciplines.

Read more at BBC News >>

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