The College Decision: The Appeal of the Liberal Arts


Jared Thompson Cento Writer

A college of 1,375 students in a city of 16,000. Not a metropolis filled with thousands of students and hundreds of businesses designed to cater to them, but a modest town, rich in historical and educational importance.

Regardless of our opinions on urban versus rural living, we were all attracted here for the same reason: Centre College. Out of roughly 2,800 four-year institutions in the United States, we each found Centre’s attributes the most desirable.

In many cases, we chose to dig deeper into our pockets, or asked our parents to dig deeper into theirs, so we could experience a rigorous education in the liberal arts and sciences as opposed to attending a larger public institution. But why? Why this place, above all others?

Every Centre student likely spent hours pouring over piles of college and university data during their higher education search. While some of us knew Centre’s student-to-faculty ratio by heart, others just wanted a sense of the environment.

Admissions pamphlets highlighted small class sizes and personal education, and we now know these words reflect the truth about a small school versus a larger state school.

“I didn’t even consider state schools,” first-year from Chicago Molly Bires said. “I learn better in a smaller, more intimate class setting.” At a state school where some class sizes invariably swell to upwards of 100 students, interaction (and learning) can suffer.

We can talk about a concept like “personal education” as if it is abstract, but by now Centre students should be aware that it isn’t. At large state schools, academic advising staff are employed to assist students in the role that faculty fill at Centre.

Yet referring to our advisor’s role as merely “academic” is doing them a disservice. “If you have a problem, academic or not, stop by my office. The door is open,” Professor Robert Bosco said. Advisors play an integral role in our development, personal, academic, and otherwise.

Advisors are just one aspect of the uniquely human component that separates liberal arts schools from their public counterparts. Whether you see President John Roush hurling water balloons at unsuspecting students or Dean Randy Hays walking his dogs down Walnut Street, there is an emphasis on constant interaction and participation that simply isn’t possible on a larger campus.

“I could swim [at Centre]. I’m not a Division I athlete, but at a Division III school I could still swim,” first-year from Louisville, KY Paul Holt said. THis srt of inclusion serves to attract passionate athletes into a less cutthroat environment.

The personal development this interaction fosters is only one side of the collegiate coin. After all, we all pursued college with the primary goal of furthering our education.

Anyone who has taken full advantage of the library’s midnight closing time can tell you: Centre’s workload is not to be taken lightly. At liberal arts colleges, there is a focus on not just retaining knowledge, but fundamentally changing the way students think about the knowledge they have retained. That process translates into staggering uphill battles against coursework.

Kentucky natives have grown up hearing about the little college in Danville.

Advisors are just one aspect of the uniquely human component that separates liberal arts schools from their public counterparts. Whether you see President John Roush hurling water balloons at unsuspecting students or Dean Randy Hays walking his dogs down Walnut Street, there is an emphasis on constant interaction and participation that simply isn’t possible on a larger campus.

“I could swim [at Centre]. I’m not a Division I athlete, but at a Division III school I could still swim,” first year from Louisville, KY Paul Holt said. This sort of inclusion serves to attract passionate athletes into a less cutthroat environment.

The personal development this interaction fosters is only one side of the collegiate coin. After all, we all pursued

While others haven’t had that same experience, Centre’s reputation for rigor has made itself known, regardless of international barriers.

“When it came time to apply to colleges, my counselor came to me and said ‘Centre has great education, you should think about going there,’” first-year from Yangon, Myanmer Joy Joy Yang said. This simultaneous local and worldwide presence coupled with a study abroad program that involves every strata of the student body makes Centre’s oft-repeated phrase, “Global Citizenship,” a reality.

The point isn’t to say that a school type is better, or that public state schools are suffering from some sort of deficit. They’re just different. These differences allow prospective students to pick what they find valuable while discarding what they don’t.

The true benefit of having different educational environments and atmospheres is that each student finds what they need out of college, preparing them to achieve bigger things once they leave. Each one of us here at Centre found the school’s claim of “Personal Education. Extraordinary Success,” just too convincing to pass up.


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