St. John’s College-Annapolis Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


My advice is to keep reading. St. John's college is Great Books school that will require you to read deeply, think hard, and then articulate your thoughts for your classmates. Not only will spending more time reading help you acclimate yourself to the long hours of reading and improve your reading comprehension, but by immersing yourself in the written word your voice will naturally develop, allowing you to speak more fluently and clearly. Furthermore, you are going to be exploring the foundational texts of the Western Canon, and it will help you understand their influence if you are familiar with more recent literature; then you will be able to see how the thoughts of the ancients are still manifesting themselves in our thoughts today. Keep on reading, whether it be philosophy, literature, history, or anything else. For the next few years the written word will be one of your closest friends, so it would be best for you to get a leg up now by immersing yourself in as many books as you can.


It is quite all right to not know what you want for yourself, even if you have your career planned out. College is what you make of it (and I know Mom has said this to you, but you are taking it the way wrong way). Like you will say at your commencement address, "You can only get so much guidance before the choice is yours. If you let someone else dictate how to live your life, then you LET your free will slip away... A great Teacher has said, 'Freely you have received. Freely give.' In the end, HOW you live your life is your choice." With this in mind, don't be afraid to say you don't know what's out there. By doing so, you are being honest to yourself and the world, and you thereby give the world an opportunity to show itself to you if you should let it. Don't imprison yourself in your ignorance. Allow yourself to be the free, working being you were created to be. College is one of the greatest tools for this. Use it for yourself, but don't grip it too tightly. College itself is also free.


Dear High-School-Cynthia, You're going to a college that's 1,000 miles away from your friends and family; I know that is stressing you out big time. Don't worry! It'll be tough to make friends for the first couple weeks (because it's tough for everyone), but you're going to find people who love you up there, trust me. Just be yourself. The food in the dining hall will not be up to Mom's standards of deliciousness, but there are great, cheap restaurants all around the college; don't worry about starving. You're going to miss much more than Mom's cooking while you're up there; you're going to miss home a lot. Sometimes it's going to hurt so badly you can't do anything but cry yourself to sleep while talking to a friend on the phone. But you've got this! You will love your school! And it gets easier, it really does. Get involved in a few extracurriculars and make time for yourself. Call your parents once a week, they need to hear from you as much as you need to hear from them. Love, Cynthia


don't do something you don't love. college is a time to not be afraid to take risks, academically. it's a time to grow as a person, to discover what you love enough to do it for the rest of your life. if you restrict yourself to what everyone else wants, eventually no one will be happy. learn independence. learn to be happy.


The only advice I have for students and parents looking for the perfect school is to take advantage of your college visits. You can read all the pamphlets you want, but nothing compares to visiting the campus, talking to students, sitting in on a couple of classes, and eating in the dining hall. The campus visit is when you really find out if this school is "it" or just another one you might apply to. Once you get to school the best thing to do is to get involved and try new things. That way you'll meet new people and avoid the isolation, homesickness, and lonliness that can come upon freshman. Also, you get to learn about yourself and maybe find a new favorite pass-time. Just because you weren't an athelete in high school doesn't mean you can't play intramurals in college. Take some classes that aren't in your stongest subject. Those of us who are lucky enough to go to college have been given a great opportunity to try new things, learn about the world around us, and get to know ourselves. Take advantage of it.


I believe that the most important aspects of choosing a college are those that students establish for themselves. When students give into pressure from high school teachers, peers or parents they lessen the chances that the educational and social experience they have at college will be fulfilling. Students should visit the colleges they are interested in and spend as much time there as possible, attending classes, talking to students and eating in the dining hall. Choosing a school is not like choosing a movie. You will be spending the better part of the next four years of your life there and many future aspects of your life including your career, friends and possibly spouse may be related to this place. Parents and students should also look at finances and figure out if they can really afford the school. They should talk to the school about financial assistance and look into grants and scholarships.


College is all about learning how to live life on your own. Many of the jobs of tomorrow are going to be entirely different than the jobs of today, and while a strong technical background may be useful it is not the end-all-be-all of college. It is far more important to choose a college with a strong diversity of ideas, since the world seems to have a pretty strong diversity of ideas. Let's not foret about money, either. People will tell you to, but don't buy your education beyond your means. There are plenty of good public universities and even community colleges. In the end all you walk out with is a piece of paper, and, unless you're leaping into the world of the high-powered business executive, it doesn't much matter where it comes from. Go where you will get the most bang for your buck, not the most prestige. You're there to learn something, after all.


Be very careful about limiting your options. I know too many people who decided they wanted to be engineers or lawyers only after they wasted two years at an art college. Being a St. John's student, I of course reccomend the Liberal Arts with a heavy emphasis on math and science. My college, which is thought of primarily as a philosophy school, graduates scientists, engineers, teachers, linguists, lawyers, psychologists and musicologists all from the same core program. Yeah, if I knew for a FACT that I wanted to be an engineer, I'd probably go somewhere else. But for now, I've got a great education with a great perspective on how courses of study interrelate and I've still got both the law and engineering options open to me. Something I've learned is that in history great minds rarely microspecialize. Descartes, for example, revolutionizes philosophy, geometry, physics and theology. Rousseau changed philosophy, politics, music and linguistics and Aristotle math, physics, philosophy, biology, music, poetry, politics and so on. What do you want to do?


Parents, please remember that it is your child going to to college, not you. It doesn't matter how happy you would be, or how pretty you think the campus is, or how easy it is to get home, because you are not going to school there, you don't get to look at the scenery every day, and they will find their way home when they want to. Students, your parents will forget that. Also, students, remember that you DO have to live there every day, and that you DO have to be happy with the people and the classes. Niether "the campus looks pretty in the brochure" or "my significant other will be less than an hour away" are good reasons to choose a school. "They gave me the most money" is also a bad excuse. And do NOT set your heart on anything until you've visited. There's something about the way the students carry themselves and act towards you that tells you alot about the school. And once you're there, parents, don't call every day, and students, call home sometimes. Remember that you HAVE moved out, and be responsible for yourself - always.


Don't worry too much about what jobs will be open to you. Most potential employers will care that you have a degree, but not necessarily what it's in - especially since the expectation now is often that people will go to grad school. Go somewhere you'll be engaged by what's going on around you, with people that interest you, doing things that interest you. And be absolutely sure that you go on tours of any college you're looking at, staying overnight if possible, and talk to students that go there.


Seneca, a very intelligent roman guy, once said that, ?we learn not in school, but in life.? If you?re a child of the 90s like I am, you probably know that Alanis Moresset said the same thing much more recently. Either way, both are right: every day you make choices and respond to their outcomes in ways that will determine your outlook and character for years to come. Choosing a college is perhaps the best way of making sure you?re prepared for those choices and changes that go along with life. First, chose a place that appeals to your past as well as your future so that you have firm ground to stand on. Going to a school that is entirely different from anything you?ve ever known is a bit like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Second, and probably most important, you want your education to prepare you for life while immersing you in it, so go to a place where you?ll be able to have your kind of fun, but make sure it will be challenging socially and academically, otherwise you won't prepare yourself for anything that resembles a fulfilling life.


One must remember that the goal of college is not the same for every individual. Some are seeking job training, others are attempting only to buy another four years of freedom before entering the "real world." Those who will get the most out of college, however, are those who want to become educated. To become a well-rounded and well-read individual is a goal that leads a person toward a specific kind of college and after college, leads him on throughout his life. Critics of liberal education never stop asking "but what will he do with that kind of education?" The proponents of liberal education answer "an educated man can do whatever he puts his mind to."


Find what type of education inspires you. Do you long for technical training or wish to know what education is and what it means to be an educated human being? Once you find your school, throw yourself into it with all your might. Pay strict attention to academics but never focus solely on them. Love your school.


When choosing a college it is not as important to know exactly what you want to do in life as people make it out to be. When I was filling out applications, I spent most of my time concentrating on the outcome of my college experience rather than on the experience itself. I was so worried about whether the college I chose would prepare me for a life I would enjoy, that I forgot that I should also enjoy the four years I spend getting to that life. Luckily though, I ended up choosing a school that fits perfectly into this idea. Education should be about expanding knowledge for one's own enjoyment rather than for the sake of finding a job. I once heard a statistic that the majority of people work in a job they dislike and unfortunately this is what the necessity for money in society sets us up for. But if people are creative enough, they can earn money in any field. So its not about setting yourself up financially. Its about setting yourself up for happiness and finding a school to help you do that is the best thing you can do.


Visit the colleges in person.


Don't choose a school based on fear of the future. The time we have to live as a young adult and improve our outlook on life is incredibly limited, so select a school that speaks to how you are now, not to how you think you want to be. If you do this, you will grow and develop while still maintaining your identity, and when you graduate, you will become what you need to be, and what you always wanted to be, but just never realized was your goal. Give yourself the freedom to choose whatever path presents itself, and choose a college that gives you this liberty. They do exist!


Decide what you want, if its work and work soon, go for a place that won't waste your time, if you want to explore, take that chance and go someplace that caters to your comforts, a small place if you need time time branch out or to concntrate your experience, a large place if you need space and escape and many different options. I loved my school because I wanted it... and I grew to want it in ways I never expected to. You may not know doctor or lawyer, but you know textbook or original source, or no book, audiobook, or olympic swimming pool or small class size or no winter or close to home or across the world or travel. Decide what you need, if it's money or life experience or some combination or something I haven't mentioned and go for it. You jump once, you regret not jumping all the time (and in worse case scenario, you only do one big splat on the sidewalk... and if you're resilient, you can get back up) Decide what you want to care about, and then follow through.


In my opinion, students should be less worried about what job they are going to get after college. Unless you are DEAD set on your career field, don't get caught up in the need to go to an engineering or pre-med school. Explore yourself in the liberal arts and sciences. Also, don't get caught up in what the social scene at your school is. Realize that unless your school is in a rural area, you have a whole city at your feet. You are young and capable and if you choose it, the world can be your oyster. Making friends is easy even if your college is full of bookworms, because there are ALWAYS people around. Also, don't be afraid of sports, even if you have to make them up on your own :)