Brits in America: why the liberal arts works for indecisiveness

UK blogger Bonnie MacRae explains why the US university system is perfect for indecisive people such as her 

November 13 2017
Brits in America: the benefits of the liberal arts

I’m halfway through my first semester in New York and midterm season is finally over until the spring. I can now take some time to reflect on the classes that I have taken over the past three months.

The freedom of the US curriculum was one of the main reasons why I decided to study here, yet before last year I had never even heard of the liberal arts. After discovering that these specific types of colleges allowed for the study of a variety of subjects at the same time, I knew that I had found the right path.

Having always been indecisive, Ucas applications were a nightmare for me as I had no idea which degree to pursue. I love history but art was always my strongest subject at school. And I was also interested in architecture and international relations. The UK system didn’t fit my personal learning style but the US system offered the flexibility that I needed.

I still have no real idea of what my eventual major will be, although this semester alone has shown me that there are hundreds of potential academic avenues.

Had I not decided to go to a liberal arts college, I wouldn't have been able to study both jazz history and architecture in the same semester. Studying such varied subjects also offers opportunities for varied field trips. Just last week, my jazz class took me to a concert in an elderly woman’s Harlem apartment, where I ended up speaking to the musicians about their beginnings in the music industry.


Read more of Bonnie’s journey here 

Brits in America: from Dundee to New York
Brits in America: changing perceptions of women-only universities
Brits in America: New York, New York


Recently, I rode the subway downtown and hopped on to a boat to Ellis Island to learn more about the various immigrants who came to New York for my ethnicity and social transformation seminar.

Attending a liberal arts college creates this type of varied academic opportunity as well as fostering close-knit relationships that I think I would struggle to develop anywhere else.

With 600 students in my class year, interaction with staff is second to none. Small class sizes allow for greater academic and social relations; it’s not uncommon for a professor to take their class out for dinner or to invite them to their apartment after class. For example, one of my professors brought in decorated cupcakes and gift bags to celebrate Halloween.

Attending a liberal arts college is something that I aim to make the most of throughout my time here. Grasping each opportunity, whether it be in relation to a class that I’m taking or a book that I’m reading, is what will make my experience in New York even more worthwhile. My indecisive self is much more at ease knowing that I have a variety of options to choose from and pursue over the next four years. 

Bonnie MacRae will be blogging her journey through Barnard College every month for Times Higher Education. She is originally from Dundee. 

Read more: best universities in New York

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