|Miller Library at Colby College (pictures taken by guest post author "Sartre")|
Fall is here and we’re starting to gear up for a few more college visits.
It’s probably fitting that the front page of the New York Times Book Review features two new books casting aspersions on the current Ivy League and the decline of the liberal education at those institutions. The idea is that the Ivies have ceded their historical role as keepers of the flame of liberal education to become massive research centers focused around grants, in some ways more comparable to the great state universities than anything else.
Consequently, there’s been a good deal written on the so-called “new Ivies” or “hidden Ivies,” that category of NESCAC type schools that emphasize community and connectedness with professors. (This is not entirely new. As far back as the '80s, The Preppy Handbook made the point that the smaller liberal arts colleges were often the preppiest.)
These “new Ivies” have taken up the mantle of teaching-oriented purveyors of the kind of traditional liberal education that, in the words of Andrew Delbanco quoting Allan Bloom, “helped students to pose the question…’What is man?’ in relation to his higher aspirations by guiding them to and through ‘the alternative answers’ to be found in great works of art and thought.”
It is on many of these small , northeastern colleges that my daughter has been focusing. During these tours, I let a little bit of my consciousness – the part not wrestling with strategies for fulfilling one’s individual potential - enjoy the atmosphere.
Trinity is the "preppiest" we've visited hands down. Girl in yellow cords, tan cable sweater, blue oxford with collar popped, aviators. Another with bright red short shorts, blue oxford, loafers, blonde hair in a headband. Our tour guide was a lacrosse player – pearl studs, little sundress under a jean jacket, and thighs that made Serena Williams look like a 98-pound weakling. More Top-Siders than you could shake a stick at. Top men's squash team in the country 13 straight years. And the statistics: 50% from private and independent schools.
Colby has one of the prettiest campuses I’ve seen. It also had more than a few guys in Nantucket Reds.
I was surprised by how much I liked Bates, although my daughter didn't. She caught that artsy-lefty vibe (for lack of a better expression) that I had heard about Bates but didn't see at all and that was evident in spades at Skidmore. (Given that my daughter’s essay will be about the finer points of communicating with her favorite horse, we had to visit there also.)
Hamilton was gorgeous – perched high atop a hill, as so many colleges are, with a series of adjoining quads and tall, stately, rectilinear stone buildings. We got a few late spring snowflakes there, big and wet and just enough to create a touch of moisture on the sidewalks and create an impossibly romantic effect for a 17-year-old girl (or her 50-year-old father).
Lafayette’s another one perched high on a hill, with a campus of more varied but no less interesting architecture and an absolutely stunning modern library. Despite its small size Lafayette has Division 1 football, and the Lafayette-Lehigh game is the small college version of Harvard vs. Yale.
This fall we’ll be seeing Kenyon, Colgate, and Union. I’ll keep you posted. - "Sartre"
|Sartre's Daughter Visiting Trinity College|