Earlham College Provides John Zhang a Star to Steer By
Reported by Sarah Seizmore, Linda Christas Class of '15
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to state that the following article is a distillation of sentiments and thoughts made available to me by others. Any errors in interpretation are mine alone (Sarah Seizmore)
John Zhang, (pictured at the extreme right of the photo at right) was one of the happiest graduates of the Linda Christas counseling program last year.
John reports that he couldn't believe the progress he made on all levels by attending Earlham College of Richmond, Indiana, the place Ivy League professors say is the best college in the United States.
"I had never heard of Earlham until my Linda Christas counselor told me about it," says John.
"At Earlham I am being challenged to become a healthy, creative thinker.
The international friends I have made are great. I am not stuck talking only to other Chinese students. I could do that at many of the bigger schools like Duke or Columbia, but not here.
In other words, if I had wanted to study with only Chinese kids, I could have gone to a Chinese university. Why come to the US?
But at Earlham not only are the kids great, but the professors really seem to care about each student as a human being.
In other words, I am a happy student, at a happy school. And, Earlham's graduates are among the leaders in getting great jobs after they leave school with their degrees.
If a person needs to work, so many of the famous school graduates are now finding that the name on their diploma means very little. It might be great saying to the guy next door that you graduated from Harvard. But, as many as 20% of Harvard graduates who need to work and don't come from wealthy families find that jobs are not as open to them as they might have been say 50 years ago.
Employers today want to hire people who can think and who can create. At a place like Earlham, strengths I didn't even know I had are being developed. I know when I graduate I will be a much better employee, able to create ideas that will help my employer do well. Or I think Earlham is also preparing me to go to professional school, if I want to do that as well.
I am so grateful to my Linda Christas counselor who convinced me that we weren't getting the full story from people who live and work in China. All they really know is what they can read in magazines or have heard because a school has been around for a very long time.
Just because a school has been open for three hundred years does not mean that it is a good place to be in the 21st century.
I was told by my counselor to research the teaching quality at some of the famous schools, and found that for the people studying for the bachelor's degree, the teaching is pretty poor at those places because none of those teachers are doing what it takes to obtain a permanent job offer.
Unless they win grants, publish papers, manage graduate students and write books, those teachers aren't going to get what is called "tenure." All the kids I've spoken with who have transferred from the Ivies, for example, tell me that the teachers they had as freshmen didn't come close to being good compared to what they are seeing at Earlham.
And, as an Earlham freshman, I am made to feel important. That's again something that a student doesn't find at the Ivies, with the possible exception of Dartmouth College which I hear is very good.
The Earlham campus is beautiful and it is cozy during the winter coming up with new and original ideas....at least we think they are original.
I intend to tell any high school senior to listen to their Linda Christas counselor.
Don't listen to people who do not have current information. If all they have is what they read in magazines, or what they have heard from other people reading magazines....forget it.
I come from a family that expects everyone to work hard. And, Earlham expects that. But, it is one thing to work hard at a place that really cares about you instead of working at a place like some of the more famous schools who don't really care about a freshman like I was this year.
One other thing that is important to me is that values are taught at Earlham. Values based on a system of belief founded in a major religion. Don't get me wrong, all religions are represented here. But, the kids who transfer in tell me that the big name schools really lack any reference to moral human values. When everything is OK, nothing is OK.
In other words, a teacher can get fired at many name schools for teaching anything approaching proper human values, while the profs here teach in an environment that was founded in the 19th century by Quakers.
Said a little differently, if values cannot be taught, then all you have left is what I would call relativism. That is, everyone is right to some extent, and you have no way of steering your ship.
It seems to me that a proper education should at least discuss values, and that doesn't happen in many more famous schools, thus leaving students with a very cynical, cold view of life.
In my opinion, Earlham produces graduates who will be strong international citizens with solid moral values. I feel as though Earlham is providing me a star to steer my ship by.
Thanks again to my Linda Christas counselor, Mrs. Williams, for providing me with the ship to begin with."