Filling out the Common Application during the first semester of my senior year of high school was a time consuming and tedious task. In addition to the astronomical amount of personal information that I had to enter, I was not nearly as knowledgeable about the University of Michigan and its various colleges and schools as I am now. While I had a general idea that I wanted to study history, I did not know how I was supposed to go about studying it, whilst still enjoying the experience in the four years that I have at UM.
It is during this extremely stressful time that I first found out about the RC, and like all of the important encounters in my life, I did not think much about it at first.
Yet, what was once a half-hearted decision, which I made after having only discussed it with one teacher and less than an hour of research, became one of the best choices I made that brought about the kind of academic opportunity and rich experience that I was seeking.
What stands out about the RC is its liberal arts nature and the tightness of the community while existing as part of a large university. Perhaps most people consider this in terms of the student body, but it is the way this applies to the faculty that highlights the experience offered by the RC. You have probably heard about how professors and students are on a first-name basis in the RC and would know you so well by the end of the semester to write you a written evaluation on your transcript. In reality, RC faculty are just how they are described on websites and other materials: they are friendly, caring, devoted to their students, extremely knowledgeable, and hold strong academic authority over their subject areas.
My first year writing seminar professor, for example, studies medieval French literature. He is extremely learned. His instruction not only helped us improve our writing, but provoked deeper thought about the subject of discussion, which is the divide between people of different political beliefs. By connecting these conflicts to our personal experiences, he fostered within me a thirst for knowledge and the desire to express myself convincingly, which drove me to revise my writing continuously in order to achieve the high standards set out by a course at the University of Michigan. I saw in my classmates a similar eagerness to participate and articulate their thoughts, and saw how he brought out the strengths and interests of each student so that we not only learnt from him, but also from the intellect of everyone else in the room.
Despite having a background that could categorise him as an elite, he does not exhibit any air of arrogance and treats his students with nothing but the most genuine respect, and attempts constantly to teach and discuss course materials as a peer. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in class as we debated each other, and couldn’t have asked for a better start to my undergraduate experience.
About the author
Spencer Hsieh is a second-year student from Novi, Michigan. He is a history major and is studying French in the RC. Aside from academics, he is the Assistant Director of the Joint Crisis Committee at the Model United Nations at the University of Michigan, and the Captain of Arbor eSports’ competitive Rainbow Six: Siege team.