What Made NYU Liberal Studies Worth It

Liberal Studies is worth it for the same reason anything is ever worth doing--because of the people it brings into your life.

student looking at skyline

No matter what you are studying in within NYU, there are unique, valuable experiences to be enjoyed. My experiences in the NYU Liberal Studies Core throughout the past two years have repeated validated the choice I made my senior year of high school. Liberal Studies was the right choice for me–it set me forth on the path I am on now and I couldn’t be happier about it!

So, what made it worthwhile for me? I have two words for you: the people. The community within Liberal Studies is unmatched. The relationships I have built and the people I have met during my time in LS have changed my life. Let me tell you how…

The professors are--unequivocally--the best part of a Liberal Studies education.

Liberal Studies professors are some of the most unique, intelligent, passionate people I have ever met and the relationships that you are able to build with them–organically since each class is small enough for students to intimately interact with professors on a daily basis–will be incredibly beneficial to you as a student and someday as a young professional. These professors are brilliant, with endless knowledge about anything and everything, ranging from German existential literature to sixteenth century Ottoman architecture.

During my time in the program, I have met professors that study the intersections of so many diverse disciplines–the last NYU Liberal Studies requirement I had to fulfill this semester was the final installment of the Arts and Cultures sequence.

Arts and Cultures of Modernity wound up being the perfect capstone to my Liberal Studies experience as it was taught by an incredible professor that structured the entire course around mimesis and idealism and representation. Such complex topics can feel so abstract sometimes, but this professor has spent the past twenty years of his life studying these very issues.

Learning from someone that has built such an expansive expertise around such niche areas of study allows you to have the most immersive academic experience you can possibly have in these disciplines. But every single Liberal Studies professor is like this! That is what is amazing about the program–the professor’s passion shines through and makes each course you take personal and enjoyable!

The most enriching personal experience I have had with a professor has been with Dr. Elayne Tobin. I took the first course in the Liberal Studies Core’s Writing sequence with her first semester freshman year and she changed my life. I was introduced to New York City–its history, its beauty, its nuances–through her class. I am yet to meet another person that knows nearly as much about the city as her.

Through her courses (I wound up taking the second course in the sequence with her as well!), I found my voice and passion as a writer and, in so many ways, myself in the most fundamental way you can get to know yourself as a young adult. Now, our relationship has evolved. After getting to know Dr. Tobin as a professor, I have been lucky to have her in my life as a mentor. Now, we no longer see each other in class. Instead, we have what I like to call “lunch extravaganzas.” We meet at her favorite restaurant in the West Village as we are able and we talk…for four hours. It’s lovely. I am so grateful to have her in my corner as I navigate the sometimes-scary path to my future.

The friends you make in Liberal Studies will stay with you forever.

I know people say that about any college experience, but I think the type of peers Liberal Studies introduces you to especially stick with you for life. The girl in the photograph above, holding a Starbucks holiday cup as she takes in the Manhattan skyline, is my friend Andrea. We met in Dr. Tobin’s class during my first semester at NYU. As I’m sure you might have picked up by now, the class was very intimate. Our friendship was organic, born in part due to our shared love of taking long walks. That’s what we do together. We happened to live in the same dorm (shoutout to Rubin Hall!) and would walk up to Central Park from Washington Square on the regular. This is how I got to know the city, mapping it with our feet, step-by-step with someone that I could hand a headphone to and enjoy a companionable silence with. I have learned that finding people you can just be with–silently, pleasantly be with–is very important as you move forward in your life.

Last night, when I needed a break from finals stress, I reached out to her and we walked for a little while. Over the course of the past year of my life, I have seen her exactly thrice–once this past February, once this past March, and last night. Neither one of us is a big texter, so our contact over the course of the pandemic has been spotty at best. I likely will not see her until next fall. Despite all of that, our friendship is as organic, familiar, and supportive as ever. The thing about people like Andrea–intelligent, kind peers you know will have a lasting impact in our world–and Liberal Studies is that they are everywhere. You just have to keep yourself open to meeting them, but these incredibly emotionally insightful people define Liberal Studies. They make it what it is and they are what have made my experiences here priceless.

The Liberal Studies community will change your life--it changed mine forever.

I am a different person than I was two years ago. That is partially because of the natural passing of time, partially because of the pandemic–it is also undeniably because of Liberal Studies. It is something about the people you meet here–people immersed in the humanities. Something about the way we think–it’s a beautiful, radical way of looking at the world: focusing on the humanity in every person. Once you start seeing the world this way and start surrounding yourself with others that see the world this way, it becomes a more beautiful place. It’s a beautiful way to be, to live. Liberal Studies has given that to me along with an entire community to support me as I move forward in my life. That is what has made Liberal Studies decisively worth it for me.