Being in the grey zone, as mysterious as it sounds, is not that thrilling, especially when you’re trapped in it for four years of your life. Friends, family members, and former teachers often bombard me with a curious question: Why are you at Sarah Lawrence? Friends irritatingly continue with: Is that a community college? In contrast, family members, who in a way know better, would say, Why not go to an Ivy or a big name school, like a UC or our legacy school, WashU? This inevitable series of questions are the bane of my existence at reunions and gatherings. It doesn’t help that they have regular bouts of amnesia.
Please forgive the intensifying fume coming out of the speakers on whatever device you’re using to read this.
The fuel behind this growing frustration is the persistent inkling that retains me at SLC. It might be softer at times, but it is ever-present. You see, much like guilt and conscience, this constant nudge prevented me from ever thinking about transferring to a “big” school or taking a gap year. When faced with families and friends, unfortunately, the petite character knows that time does not permit a long discussion about my darling school. It also has no appetite to explain to those who, clearly, have made up their minds about what Sarah Lawrence is, whether it is a random community college or the most expensive college in the U.S.*
Now you know that there is a subconscious that underlies my continuing commitment to SLC, but you have no clue as to its form or its validity. Well, I’ve always known that this whisper tells me that Sarah Lawrence is the perfect school for me. Truthfully, though, it has been a challenge to admit that without any evidence to support it (let’s say I am a self-conscious person, who constantly needs pillars made of scientific or research-based analysis).
Not so fast, yesterday, I found just the cure to this debilitating state of mind. As I prepare for an NYU class, which is not a betrayal to SLC, I came across this joyful news: faculty members agree almost unanimously that the principal aim of college is to create students who have the capacity for critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing.
Well isn’t that what I’m getting from Sarah Lawrence?
Each day, as I enter and emerge from the subway or drink a beverage labelled natural or eavesdrop on a conversation, I am launched into a forest full of trees of thought, philosophical roots, and branches signifying various perspectives. In a few moments I’ve created an entire garden equipped with stone walkways. Now, I’ve got to share this trail to the world. Hours of class discussion, debates, heartache, and sore hands, contributed to my ability to complete such complicated tasks. Of course, at the end of the day, among other things, I am that much more sensitive to people’s feelings caused by their ethnicity and experience, and worry over whether or not I am being Politically Correct (PC) or what PC even means, or if I even need to be PC. Perhaps, I have even developed insomnia due to these programmed systems in my head. Every semester, all of this baggage is regularly turned into lengthy papers, spanning between twenty to eighty pages. I no longer dread writing, because now words just flows through my fingertips.
Ultimately, though, does the capacity to think critically, conduct complex reasoning and write help me get a job? Well, research has said that a graduate with all these traits are much more attractive to employers. And anyways, who needs a job when all these abilities promise to prepare me for daunting conversations with a myriad of respondents?
I came to college to explore a variety of subjects; mold the my passions for health, psychology and theatre together into an idealistic frame of mind; and sharpen my skills. Even though, there’s only one more year left between us, Sarah Lawrence certainly has helped me reach those goals. And the added experiences along the way, such as taking summer courses at Boston University and New York University or doing an independent study on the new Indonesian health care reform or the Bugis tribe with five genders, have only enriched my knowledge and confirmed the inkling that whispers: you are meant to be at SLC.
*SLC’s tuition has been ranked by many institutions as being the highest in the country. But, according to Princeton Review we have the best professors. And anyways, let me say this, I am an international student who has weighed the costs of a variety of schools based on my status.
Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2010). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses (pp. 1-57). New York: University of Chicago Press.
Photo Credit: All pictures are taken by the author herself.