Third Time’s the Charm
by Noah LeBien
My name is Noah and this fall I began classes at Shimer College. However, this is not my first shot at College. I’m hoping the third time’s a charm. After high school I went to the College of Wooster in Ohio, before transferring to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. When I found neither to be a good fit I took some time off, unsure of where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do.
Then I found Shimer. I stumbled upon an article about the Great Books programs on Wikipedia of all places. I was intrigued by the whole history behind the program and was drawn even more into it when I read about a small Great Books college in Chicago.
I decided to give Shimer a call and set up an appointment to visit and sit in on a class. After that first visit, I remember being surprised at the size of Shimer. The intimacy and friendliness of the staff and students that I spoke with made me realize how much the community knew when to take something seriously and when to be relaxed. I left satisfied, which was strange because I did not participate in the discussion, but it left an impression.
Then I remember a few days after my visit, my father, who works for the Chicago Tribune, approached me about this small school he had heard about that he thought might interest me. A Tribune article about the controversy involving Shimer’s president had just appeared. I took the coincidental timing of the article, my father, and my visit as a good sign, so I started an application.
When I was invited to do an interview after submitting my application I was excited, not only because I had another chance to visit the school, but because I would get to support my application and my essays personally. This more personal touch to the school is something unique and it is strange to try and explain it to someone who hasn’t been here. Though my experience here hasn’t been that long, it seems like an environment that is small but not constricting, intimate but not overwhelming. Things must have gone well, within a month I was moving into an apartment in Bridgeport and participating in orientation.
In Natural Sciences 2 we given parts of On the Soul by Aristotle as our first reading assignment, and someone brought up the point that we have come so far in our knowledge of the mind and body that there isn’t much we can get out of old text anymore. The writers of the Great Books did not have our advantages, true, but they managed to make things that were so influential with so little. Even 100 years from now many things we know and take for granted will be considered irrelevant, but these thinkers will still be relevant because of the weight their ideas had on human history.
My first thoughts and experiences at Shimer have been centered on the question of why the Great Books have this continually potent freshness, and why it feels right for me to study them. It seems to me that one can’t dig deep into these questions anywhere else. I feel and hope I’m prepared to do just that and that is why I think the third time’s the charm.