- Class: Senior
- Major: English
- Gender: M
- High School: Commonwealth High School, Boston, MA
- Transfer Student: N
Middlebury has a pretty stable relationship with the town of Middlebury, Vermont. No one gets stabbed like at Bates, no one gets mugged like at Trinity, and you can leave your house open and the keys in your ignition when you go to the liquor store. The community is really important downtown, and there is significant collaboration with the college in some respects. The college is the major employer in Middlebury, so people are a little uncomfortably dependent on it. It drives rents up all over town, and certainly has a very influential say in town politics. That being said, the college has done more for the town than the town has ever done for anyone. The small slices of culture in midwestern Vermont are directly solicited by Middlebury College. The college brings music, guest speakers, readers, orchestras, sports events, artists-in-residence, racial and geographical diversity to the town, and nearly all its facilities, events, and resources are open to the public - though privileges are naturally reserved for students. Adversely, the community provides some pretty awesome resources too, that the college could never do on its own. Vermont has a highly-honored tradition of living well, and keeping its priorities in the right place - since no one lives in Vermont to make it big. This manifests itself in several incredible things you won't find anywhere else. First: the Otter Creek Brewery. You can ride your bike or drive here, and drink free samples of micro-brewed beer and eat delicious gourmet whole-seed mustard and pretzels while you decide what beer to buy. Otter Creek has the most incredible deals I've ever seen. You can get a growler, a 64-oz glass jug of beer, for $4. That's almost four pints of excellent micro-brew for $4. (There's a $2 deposit on the growler itself.) Then they have specials on their seasonal beers when the seasons are changing, which is all the time. Last time I was there, I bought a case (24 bottles) of their delicious Oktoberfest for $11. Can you beat that? Then there is the Meat Shack. Follow a dirt road off of Weybridge St one mile out of town until you come to the unmarked farm that has animals on its mailbox. It's not easy to find, and most college students don't know about it. You go down the driveway and feel like you're trespassing until you enter a small red house, the size of a bathroom. Three walls are refrigerators and freezers, filled with freshly-cut vacuum-sealed farm raised meat. Their bacon is un***ingbelievable. They've got four kinds of sausage, pork-chops, sheep-sticks, hamburgers, Canadian bacon, etc, and you pay the same as you would in the supermarket, for hormone and antibiotic infused crap that will make you *** liquid. And the best part is, the whole thing operates on The Honor System, which, in this case, is a small metal box overflowing with cash. Each customer is asked to fill out an invoice saying what they're buying, and then you put your money in the money box and take your change. Just like that.
Despite all the douchebags on campus, and how hard the social life sucks, the academics at Middlebury are truly exceptional. I went to a rigorously intellectual private school in Boston, where 16 year old students read Hobbes, Eliot, Donne, and Hardy. I wanted more than anything to go to a college that lived up to my standards for its academic merit. And Middlebury met those standards. Everyone at Midd works pretty damn hard. There are a couple breezy classes, like "Earthquakes and Volcanoes" or "Physical Reality and Human Thought." But overall, no one's getting off the hook. Most of the classes I've taken require a lot of commitment and hard work. There are high expectations that everyone come to class, and sincerely invest themselves in the curriculum. Merely doing the required work isn't going to get you an A. You have to go the extra mile. My biggest beef with Midd is this: there's an irritating trend where the (usually tenured) professors get by on their personality alone. And the students EAT IT UP. They're like, Oh Professor Quirky McGee is so funny! He told us this story about Middlebury in the '80s, and also this story about his pet turtle, that were SO hilarious, we hardly even mentioned Chaucer once the whole semester! And I'm like, Dude, my parents are paying 40G a year, can we ***ing LEARN SOMETHING PLEASE?! My second biggest beef in the academic arena at Middlebury College is the "discussion sections." Every class seems to be based on discussion. Even the big lectures have discussions at the end of the week - a good thing, in this case. But for the smaller classes, which comprise the vast majority of Middlebury's curriculum, discussion is much too highly valued. For example: this past fall semester, I took a class called "History of the Middle East: 1450 - present." Now that's a lot of material to cover in eleven or twelve weeks. This professor, who everyone thinks is the bomb, ran classes like this: she'd say, Okay, it's debate time! Half the class sit on this side of the room - you guys are gonna argue why it's important for women to wear traditional veils. Half the class sit on THIS side, and argue the disadvantages of requiring women to cover themselves in public. We hadn't learned anything about veils, or the legislature surrounding the contentious issue. So the debate was like, one kid with long hair would say, "I think it's unfair to make women wear a veil, because they should be free to dress how they like. I think freedom of expression is really important, like, when my parents told me to cut my hair, I was really offended...." And again, I'm thinking, Why am I listening to 19 year olds airing their pompous and uninformed opinions instead of reading something critical? Are the arbitrary opinions of my fellow students worthy of taking up this amount of class time?
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