I got an opportunity to visit my son Ben this weekend at Beloit College in Wisconsin and I was surprised about what he wanted to talk about when we met up for dinner.
Ben has been studying moral relativism in his philosophy class and he finds the concept intriguing. Over a meal of tacos and burritos (truly dreadful by Southern California standards), Ben shared what a moral relativist’s views would be regarding honor killings, genocide, the infamous Kitty Genovese murder in the New York City in 1950s and other horrors.
And then as we were walking back to the campus, my 18-year-old observed that while philosophers have attempted to prove God exists, few have tried to prove the opposite.
When Ben was finishing up his senior year in high school at this time last year, his contributions to the nightly conversation at the dinner table too often revolved around his latest World of Warcraft conquests.
Obviously, Ben’s worldview had dramatically broadened in college. His professors have challenged him, he’s made friends from across the country and he’s also developed an appreciation for people who aren’t as fortunate by working two afternoons a week with the housekeeping staff. He told me, for instance, that he feels bad that some cleaning staff have to work with vacuums with no wheels, which is not something he ever would have worried about in the past.
My husband and I are happy to see that Ben has had such a formative first year in college. I’d argue that Ben’s experience has been more transformative because he attends a liberal arts college.
What’s a Liberal Arts College?
If you don’t know what a liberal arts college is, you are not alone. Only about 2% of college students attend liberal arts colleges. I consider this a shame since I think liberal arts colleges represent the best educational experience for many undergraduates.
If you’d like to know more about liberal arts colleges and how they differ from universities, I’d urge you to read a new book entitled, The Thinking Student’s Guide to College: 75 Tips for Getting a Better Education. Andrew Roberts, a professor at Northwestern University, not only explains the difference, but also shares how students can get the most out of their college experience wherever they end up.
I’d also suggest that you read some of my previous blog posts that touch on liberal arts colleges:
Where Professors Send Their Children to College
5 Reasons to Attend a Liberal Arts College
Do Undergrads Learn Much in College
30 Liberal Arts Colleges In or Near Cities
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.