As is the case with most liberal arts colleges, Kenyon gets a lot of flack for its humanities-based academics, rural setting, and unconventionally trendy students. But while tweed jackets and pipes are currently making a comeback, Kenyon still pretty much transcends the stereotypes blindly associated with other liberal arts schools.
One common misconception (especially coming from friends who go to urban schools), is that the cozy farmlands and laid-back attitude pervading Gambier do not prepare students for “the real world.” This might merit some consideration if the real world was one large, boring office building filled top to bottom with identical people from identical backgrounds, but of course it is not (“Close-knit” is another word used to describe Kenyon, and its importance oftentimes goes unnoticed). When over a thousand young people sporting hundreds of different opinions inspired by hundreds of different backgrounds are packed onto a single campus, peaceable calm is not usually the end result. A liberal arts education like this not only educates us academically, but culturally as well. Because there is hardly any room for isolation, we are forced to communicate with and understand each other, solve problems, and form close bonds.
Another argument against a liberal arts education is that it only leads to future unemployment. It is incredibly easy to point to the long list of famous alumni, yet they could not have made it without the skill set Kenyon granted them. The same intimacy that teaches us to create solutions also helps us network. The hallmate you brush your teeth next to at 8 AM every morning might be the person who convinces her boss to give you the same job for which Ivy League students are competing.
On a lighter note, friends always love to comment on how Kenyonites all tip cows for fun, or are English majors, or are hipsters who refuse to listen to any music they can’t buy at a record store. And maybe these comments aren’t so far-fetched. We can’t help it if we’re cool, and it’s okay to take a few jabs now and then as long as they aren’t one-sided. But it is always crucial to recognize the value in a liberal arts education––especially one as unbeatable as Kenyon’s––and not to allow any unverified stereotypes undermine it.