In my senior year of high school, as I was receiving responses to my college applications, I logged once more into the Common App website and used the download feature to save copies of all my applications for future reference. Looking back at my application, I see a very different person than I am now. Perhaps the most dramatic change came from my answer about my top two choices for my major. I said I was interested in majoring in government and English although what I really wanted to say was undeclared and undeclared.
Then one night in February, as I was waiting for responses from colleges, I realized that I’d been wrong about my supposed major interests when applying; what I really wanted to major in was philosophy. As my application attests, in the fall of 2015 I took a class through a college government department called Intro to Political Thinking. The syllabus consisted entirely of works of political philosophy. Reading the works of philosophers such as Plato, Rousseau, Mill and Marx made me realize that if I truly wanted to learn to think, write and argue, then I needed to pursue reading philosophy and in turn a philosophy major in college. Ultimately, I entered my decision process with a very different mindset from how I picked potential colleges.
After browsing through the online course catalogues of Conn and another school I was considering, I realized that both had strong philosophy departments. Ultimately, my decision didn’t come down to the major I was interested in; it was about other things. The most important difference that got me to favor Conn was the Honor Code—specifically that it’s an incredibly distinct part of our culture. I realized this during Camel Days, an event for admitted students, when I first saw the Honor Code pledge. At the end of Orientation, students matriculate by signing a sheet of paper with the words of the Honor Code on it. The sheet is then displayed in a hallway on the second floor of Cro with those of the other classes.
Our honor code is about more than academic integrity; it’s about being a good person and respecting everyone around you. I took my political thinking course at an honor code school, and while it was great to have self-scheduled exams, I didn’t feel as safe there as I do here, I didn’t feel like other students were looking out for my well being. Sometimes, I’ll walk back to that hallway in Cro and just gaze at the pledges. I was looking at them recently at Green Dot training in Cro because I consider being an active bystander part of my obligation under the honor code, and I’m sitting next to them right now as I write this post. Philosophers like Plato challenge us to strive to be like the form of the good, and that’s something I see in our honor code’s philosophy. I chose to come to Conn because I knew it would challenge me to be my best, and that made it a good choice because I know that I like who I’ve become through Conn.
Still alluring: the Honor Code pledges on display in Cro