Describe Helen Keller's experience at Radcliffe. Why did she say "but college is not the universal Athens I thought it was"?

Helen Keller's experience at Radcliffe was disappointing for several reasons: she no longer had the opportunity to reflect and read in solitude, she found the emphasis on scholarly explanation reductive, and she could not read the assigned texts in braille.

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College did not live up to Helen Keller’s expectations because she previously loved learning for the sake of learning and she felt that college did not allow for that. 

Helen Keller was very excited to finally go to college, because she worked so hard to get there being blind and deaf.  This was especially the case because she had to wait a year after being admitted to continue preparations.  She had built it up in her mind, and therefore there was bound to be some disappointment.  Radcliffe was not the paradise she expected. 

For one thing, she complained about the lack of time she had in college.  Helen felt that she no longer had time to reflect.  She was no longer learning just for the joy of learning. 

But in college, there is no time to commune with one's thoughts. One goes to college to learn, it seems, not to think. When one enters the portals of learning, one leaves the dearest pleasures–solitude, books and imagination–outside with the whispering pines. (Ch. 20) 

Helen felt that college was not the “Athens” she thought it would be, because some of the people were possibly just pretenders and not geniuses. 

Many scholars forget, it seems to me, that our enjoyment of the great works of literature depends more upon the depth of our sympathy than upon our understanding. The trouble is that very few of their laborious explanations stick in the memory. (Ch. 20) 

One of the biggest problems is that very few of the books she needed were printed in Braille.  As a result, she had to have them spelled into her hand.  This naturally made everything take longer for her to learn.  Helen often lost her temper.  In the end, however Helen felt that the experience taught her patience and was a worthwhile adventure despite the struggle.

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