Andrew Reuss Radically Changed by His Liberal Arts Education
Written by Taylor Kemmeter
Andrew Reuss is a senior from Madison, Indiana, who is double majoring in politics and English.
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Why did you choose Hillsdale College?
After I visited and spoke with several students and alumni, I realized that I could not get what I wanted in an education anywhere but here. I wanted something beyond just mere learning or preparation for a job; I wanted my soul to be shaped in such a way that I could live a better life.
What is a liberal arts education?
A liberal arts education is education for its own sake. It is not done for the sake of improving a person for a skill or a job, or even for a particular way of life, but it is a shaping of the soul in order to live a good life. Through this education, they are better able to live in this reality.
Why do you think a liberal arts education is important today?
All men are created equal, and that implies that all men are at least susceptible to this soul-crafting education. I do not think everyone can appreciate it to the same extent, and this attitude may be connected with a lot of variables: cultural, basic upbringing, prior education. Some people are more open to this education than others. Hillsdale is unique in that the majority of the people who come here are in a position where they can benefit from and are open to the liberal arts education.
What makes Hillsdale’s program qualify as a liberal arts program?
Part of it is the amount of academic freedom. We do have a core, and I think it is important to have a structured set of classes that teach the basics and build a foundation. After that foundation is set, there is no strict limitation on what you can and cannot take, and that is very important. “Liberal” implies a freedom. This freedom is at the heart of what we are doing: to make this education the students’ own to pursue what they love. All those aspects together make up Hillsdale’s liberal arts education.
How does Hillsdale present an education that is unique?
This education is structured, but there is enough freedom allowed to the student body and to each individual student that changes how this education looks. I am interested in certain things—certain aspects of certain subjects—whereas others may be interested in something else. It is very important that we are given the freedom to study these interests with the same sort of fundamental background. This approach creates a community that is very diverse in thought but coherent in language and the fundamental premise.
What is your favorite aspect of the liberal arts here at Hillsdale?
I really enjoy the English classes, but my favorite are the classes that have a combination of basic philosophical questions set against a literary background and with political implications. That is a really high sounding way of saying that I really like taking classes that mix philosophy, politics, and English.
How has Hillsdale’s liberal arts education changed the way you view the world?
Radically, and this response is a commonly shared idea amongst students. No one who comes here leaves unchanged, and sometimes that is not as comfortable as people may want it to be. For me in particular, there have been certain points where I have been confronted with material, ideas, or even people that force me to very drastically consider prior notions of how the world works and my approach to reality and people. I think Hillsdale certainly has made me more conscientious of certain political truths, such as all of us are created equal. “Created” I think is certainly an important aspect. There are other things, too, such as how you can walk outside, and everyone around here is doing something that is beautiful and great. It is easy to take that wonderful attitude for granted, so it is important to have a reminder every once in a while that the things that we are participating in are worthwhile and should be challenged.
Taylor Kemmeter is a sophomore majoring in English and minoring in music. She is an editor for the Forum and is an officer for the swing club.