Made the right choice

24 October 2012

Greetings, readers, I am Roy Sengupta, and over the coming months I shall be guiding you through the experience of a first year student in the unique Bachelor of Humanities program at Carleton University.

The decision as to which university to attend and what program to focus on can often be a very challenging one, and the hope is that this blog will aid you in your consideration of your choices for University, and hopefully inform you a bit more as to what the day-to-day academic and social life of the Bachelor of Humanities program entails. I was offered admission to a number of different universities, but I remember noticing how different this program was from so many of the other programs my friends were going into. The professors seemed to be eager to teach, and they did not teach large first year lecture halls filled with hundreds of students, but in small class sizes of the kind generally only reserved for higher year students. Not only this, but the program was broad based, looking at literature not only from the West, but also literary traditions in India and China to fit our globalizing, multicultural world.

One of the main questions I was asked by some of my friends was what I possibly hoped to do with a Humanities degree at the end of it all?  But through only two months here, I have begun to see the deep value of the academic skills being taught by this program. The skills of writing with clarity, speaking with confidence, reading with comprehension – these are all the skills that you hear employers increasingly lamenting for their absence in the workforce.

The Humanities program teaches you these skills in an innovative way, interspersing your weekly lectures with a once-weekly discussion group. The traditional ideal of university is that students ought to sit quietly “suckling at the teet of knowledge”. But the ideal of the discussion group centered mode of education means that you are a full partner in your education, not just a spectator. Even in first year, I have discussed texts as complex as the Indian Upanishads, the Myths of Mesopotamia and this week, will be discussing the Christian Bible.

And finally, what would University or any institution be without some form of social life? In the Bachelor of Humanities program there is plenty to get involved with and enjoy outside of academics. In the two months since I’ve been here, there have been socials, a music night, auditions for a play, and much else besides. The Humanities is a tight-knit community, and it got this way because there are so many people together with such like-minded interests.

Over the course of this blog then, I hope to keep you up-to-date on the experiences of a first year student in this College. So until next time, I bid you all farewell!

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