First-Person Experiences: I Hope College Has Changed Your Life

June 13, 2024 | by Daniel Levine, University Professor |   min read

Editor's Note: This blog post, reprinted with permission of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, was originally published April 29, 2024, on the Fulbright Review blog as part of the ongoing series of first-person accounts that provide a “slice of life” and are written by the person living it.

Daniel Levine
Daniel Levine

College helps people to see things in perspective. Your view of life is good, but when you see how it relates to other points of view, it will be much richer.

College helps people to understand themselves. We know who we are, locally, but college helps us to see who we are in our culture, and in relation to other cultures. It helps us to grow up and get past a high school view of the world.

We learn languages in college. Learning to speak, write and think like people who have different outlooks on life widens our own understanding of the world and of ourselves.

In college, we read books that teach us about things we have never thought about. From these books, we learn new words and see new worlds.

College is a challenge, and people get stronger from facing challenges. We develop a discipline that stays with us after college; we learn not to be afraid of different ideas, that helps us to be tolerant, understanding, and empathetic with people who are not the same as we are.

In college, we meet people that we would not otherwise meet in our daily lives. They may be from other parts of the state, the country, and the world. They help us to avoid stereotyping people who differ from us in dress, musical tastes, cuisine, religion, politics, and income. We learn that people are people, despite our many wonderful differences.

Going to college helps us to make contact with others who can help us later in life, whether in getting a job, connecting with opportunities to travel, giving us a leg up in further education, or just making lifelong friendships.

Going to college is a way to find out who you are – away from family, friends, and your hometown. What do you really want to do with your life? College seems to make students confront this important question very frequently.

Colleges attempt to give their students a balanced view of the world: we learn about great people, and their ideas: religious, philosophical, scientific, political, and personal. Our students learn how to communicate with other people through all media, from one-to-one conversation to hi-tech methods. They learn how to solve problems, to argue effectively, to reason things out, to keep from getting fooled.

In college, we learn how to express ourselves and to make good impressions. We learn how to speak and read foreign languages, so we’ll avoid the ugly stereotype of being monolingual. More importantly, we learn to understand the beauty of our own native languages.

We learn about and experience the performance and history of music, drama, painting, sculpture, film, dance, and architecture – namely, the things that make life worth living.

We learn about the history of the United States of America and our political system. We learn that we must get involved in our democracy, in order to keep it alive.

Our students examine lots of new ideas, expand their horizons substantially, and examine the many contradictions of the human condition. They learn that life is not simple, and most importantly, they learn that there is much more to learn. They learn humility.

Our students learn how our physical world works through courses in chemistry, biology, geology, botany, zoology, and ecology. They learn how to manage their time, how to be responsible, and how to interact with others without the benefit of parental oversight.

They learn how to make choices, and how not to make choices.

Daniel Levine
Daniel Levine has taught classical studies at the U of A since 1980.

The best thing I can say about a college education is that it prepares students to be human beings, with an emphasis on the human.

College is here to educate thinkers, dreamers, inquirers, problem-solvers, and lifelong learners.  We’re here to show our students that they owe the world their talents. We’re here to tell them that they are valuable and must work to improve the world.

Our graduates become leaders, healers, helpers, discoverers, and scholars. They go into the world knowing a little something about everything, and a little more about something. Most importantly, they learn flexibility and they learn how to learn in different ways.

As faculty, we’re here to help students find out what they’re good at, and to let them excel in a particular area of their interest – while they get a broad view of the world. We’re training people to cope with the world and to be comfortable wherever they go.

We hope that our graduates can go everywhere and experience different cultures, technologies, languages, customs, religions, and art. We teach our graduates not to believe everything they are told because we’re training people to think critically and for themselves.

Likewise, our corporations and governments need people who can think, who can talk, write, and generally communicate effectively with others. They need people who can read, research, and pay attention to detail. They need people with discipline who can learn new tasks and solve problems.

Businesses can always train their employees, but first they need people who are flexible, quick thinking, and who know how to learn. They need our graduates.

I teach in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, in Classical Studies and World Languages – areas often referred to as the liberal arts. And the “liberal’ in that phrase comes from the Latin adjective liberalis, which means free.

We hope that our students free their minds by completing our rigorous course of studies. We hope that we are sending our graduates into the world free to keep learning, free to question, free to contribute to our society, and free to lead successful lives in whatever way they chose to define success.

And we hope that then together, we can make the world a better place.

So, go to college, and I hope it will change your life.

Photo of Daniel Levine

Daniel Levine

University Professor

Daniel Levine is the director of the Classical Studies program and professor in the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas.

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