Why I chose liberal arts education in the USA?

macalester college

 

The original article was first published at USAPPS Blog in 2014. It is republished here for sharing and educational purposes.

Many young Malaysians have dreamed of going overseas to study. And, United States of America tends to become one of the best choices. Perhaps, it’s that many of the top universities are in the USA. Perhaps, it is the American dream that draws the Malaysian kids here. Or perhaps, it is the Hollywood movies influence. ?

Today, let us find out of all choices Dinesh had, why did he choose to study in a liberal arts college in the US.

macalester college

 

Why should students choose to study in the US, especially when alternatives may cost less, take less time, and offer more familiar styles of education?

In my opinion, the American system of education emphasizes different things than the more familiar styles of education we have experience with. In the US, you learn from your peers as you discuss issues in the cafeteria,
from the student organizations you join and from the classes you take. I believe you will be able to do all these things in other countries or Malaysia, but it’s easier in the US simply because many universities here emphasize different forms of learning outside the classroom. American education has changed me tremendously as a person. Part of that is going to college and gaining independence, and part of it is learning to learn in completely different ways than I am used to.

 

What do the “liberal arts” mean to you personally?

Liberal arts to me mean that I am a Biology major, a political science minor and have a concentration in public health. Liberal arts mean that I have many friends in my major, but just as much if not more in other majors. Liberal arts mean that I took Organic Chemistry, Cell Biology, Medical Anthropology and Political Sociology in one semester and loved it. Liberal arts mean the difference between specializing at such a young age and learning a wide variety of subjects and issues to become well-versed in preparation for any future career.

A critical piece of advice you would offer a student looking to further his/her studies abroad…

Say hello to everyone during the first few weeks of school. You’ll make friends you never thought you would.

If there was one thing you could do over in the past 2 years, what would it be, and why?

I would have gotten snow boots earlier- Minnesota winters are brutal.

Dinesh

Image credit: Dinesh’s Facebook Profile

Dinesh Rathakrishnan grew up in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia until the age of 18, when he left home to study at a liberal arts college in the state of Minnesota in the United States, of all places. He graduated from Macalester College in 2014 with a major in Biology, a minor in Political Science and a concentration in Public Health, along with experiences in both clinical and public health.

After college, Dinesh lived and worked in Minneapolis, first as a medical scribe at a large hospital, and then as a Clinic and Medical Assistant at a nonprofit sexual health clinic that provides sliding fee services aimed at the queer and trans community, particularly the uninsured and underinsured. He is especially interested in health inequities and how they intersect with racial, gender and other oppressions after histories of colonialism and capitalism. This fall, he will be attending Columbia University for his Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology. He maintains his peace through this ridiculous journey by practicing yoga and meditation.

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