“Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” This Margaret Sanger quote is engraved on each side of the Keene State College archways at the end of Appian Way. These words are KSC’s motto for a reason; the students who enter through the arches of the college come here to learn and go forth to serve their community when they graduate. KSC is a college that provides its students with a liberal arts education. But what does being liberal mean to KSC? According to the official website, “liberal implies a broad range of knowledge that covers time-honored skills that are applicable to many disciplines and have been proven to be valuable throughout the course of one’s lifetime, as well as deep expertise in a chosen field or fields.”
Through this interdisciplinary approach of education, KSC students are exposed to courses outside of their immediate area of study. This approach to education is beneficial for students who do not exactly know what they want to study when they come to KSC. For an undecided student, a liberal/interdisciplinary path is the best to embark down when it comes to an education. By filling the Integrative Studies Program (ISP) requirements at KSC, students will “develop an understanding of and an appreciation for (and may even develop a passion for) a number of social issues, including diversity, ethics, global issues, and the interplay of the environment and society” according to the KSC website.
While keeping an open mind about ISP courses, students should also ensure that they are getting the most out of their education experience. If the college is facing financial setbacks, students take the brunt of it. This means there is less faculty available to teach specific courses for certain majors and that leads to less classes offered for students to enroll in. While some buildings are full of equipment for students in their respective areas of study, other buildings, such as the Redfern Arts Center, are in need of some renovations. If a liberal arts education provides students with exposure to all areas of study, then all areas of study should be treated equally. It is not fair for some students to have access to thousands of dollars of equipment while other students have to pay thousands of dollars out of their own pockets for supplies they need for their classes. If students are required to take classes in other fields of study, then the college should be required to spend equal amounts of money on each department.
A liberal arts education might not be the best fit for every student, though. It might be a good idea for a student who does not know what kind of path they want to go down to attend a liberal arts school. By going to a school where they are exposed to different subjects, they are also checking off requirements for ISP courses. But, for a student who has a set plan and career path, a liberal education may not be the best fit. For example, a student who wants to pursue a degree in engineering and knows that this is the major for them will most likely attend a school that specializes in that area over a liberal arts institution. That student might find that the ISP courses are slowing down their education process because they are required to take classes that have nothing to do with their field.
On the other hand, some students know what they want to do but do not want to be tied down to one specific field. By attending a liberal arts college, they are able to study in their major as well as gain exposure and insight to other subjects. They are also free to change their mind about their major if they come in thinking they want to do one thing and then realize, after taking an ISP, that they love another subject. No matter what decision a student makes for where they attend school and receive an education, the education opportunities presented to everyone should be equal. KSC needs to ensure that their students are provided with the same opportunities, no matter what career they decide to pursue.