Communities Rebecca Gildea
Academic decisions as part of personal growth
On transferring to Marlboro
I decided to come to Marlboro College the second time through my college decisions when I refined what I really wanted out of my education. I decided that I wanted to play a larger part in choosing what I got to learn while I was here. This kind of atmosphere is not for every 18-year-old to come into right away—I’m really happy I didn’t come here my first semester. I experienced a different academic environment first. It was through that experience that I found that I don’t like a core curriculum placed in front of me that says check three of these boxes and those will be your classes.
On personal responsibility
There’s a sense of personal responsibility here when you are the one defining what your education will be. So you have to learn practical skills like how to put together a schedule, how to really manage your time. There’s no higher structure of “The Way” to do it for every person. There may be some stumbling blocks while you figure things out, but that’s also a really big step in the maturing process. And everyone is trying to help you make the best decisions in the least obtrusive way.
On academics at Marlboro
The biggest push that you get from any faculty or staff member is that you study broadly at first, but their influence pretty much stops there in the kind of requirements that they expect from you. You are presented with half-hour sessions called intro classes, so that you can get a feel for what’s available and what the course work is like and what the teacher is like. And then you make your own decisions, and you might decide that you want to take something like sculpting even though you’ve never had an art class in your life. And that’s completely fine. Students tend to go for everything, like “I’m interested in philosophy, I’m interested in religion, I’m interested in music.” They take a couple of classes in all of those areas, and then really refine what they’re wanting to learn, which will inform their Plan of Concentration.
On the Plan of Concentration
My Plan is in music. I am studying the creation of the term “folk” in Germany in the early 19th century. I am tracing the influence of the ideology associated with the word and its effects on art music and its cultural ties to nationalism and the formation of the country as we know it today.
On being an individual
Marlboro is a college of well-rounded individuals, rather than merely college students. For some students, it’s just the acceptable thing to do after high school. You go to college, you have your course work laid out for you, you get your degree, and you go into the job world. In that kind of system, although you may mature in different ways, there’s no self-direction because there’s so little choice. Marlboro gets a new group of individuals every year because they’re forced—almost, they’re “self-inducted”—into this kind of growing experience. You really have to grow up and make your own decisions, and then be held accountable for those decisions, across the board: academically as well as in other ways.