To Pursue a Liberal Arts Education and to Do It Well

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“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the THINKS you can think up if only you try!” -Dr. Seuss

Congratulations on your acceptance to Princeton! You’ve been admitted to the best school in the country! Considering your choice to apply to and ultimately attend Princeton, you’ve likely given some thought to the many benefits of a liberal arts education. Instead of offering reassurance that you’ve landed in a good place (you have) and that your degree will serve you well (it will), it’s time to consider what it really means to pursue a liberal arts education and how one might do it well.

The liberal in liberal arts is rooted in the Latin word liber, meaning “free,” and this etymology provides some important insight. A liberal arts education sharpens your ability to think left and think right and think low and think high and to think really any THINKS when you need to and try. What lies ahead of you is a truly unique opportunity, but it is coupled with the responsibility to challenge yourself in ways that will expand your thinking, sharpen your analytical and communication skills, and ultimately deepen your empathy for the world around you. Only by making an effort to challenge yourself in these ways will you learn to remove the limitations of your own thinking and reach the kind of intellectual freedom that is truly liberating. What this may look like in practice is taking a course that scares you, trying out for an acapella group when you’ve never performed in front of a crowd, or late-night conversations with roommates about their hometowns, political ideologies, and religious beliefs. You are about to embark on an experience that will be truly transformative if you allow it.

After a grueling college application process, the good news is that there is a very strong likelihood that you will graduate from Princeton. There are incredible support systems in place to help you do so. But with diploma in hand, the real marker of achievement will be knowing that you allowed yourself to think freely and without restriction, and that you’ll continue to do so beyond the walls of Princeton. We look forward to supporting you on this exciting journey and hearing about all the THINKS you think up along the way!

Author Profile

sdonley's picture
Sachiko Donley DattaPh.D.
Director of Studies, Wilson College

Dr. Datta is the Director of Studies at Wilson. In her role, she provides support for students’ academic development. Before joining Wilson, she was a post-doctoral researcher in the Psychology Department at Princeton where she studied implicit racial bias and disparities in student academic outcomes. She earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of California, Irvine, where her research focused on adolescent decision-making under stress. Many years before that, she was a student at Yale where she completed her undergraduate studies in literature.