We collect essays from people who care about higher education.
Go HERE to submit original essays, suggest topics, and refer us to previously published work (by you or others).
Questions are followed by author’s last names which link to their essays.
- How do you get the most out of college? Strow, Perry, Ramirez
- How does a poor student become a good one? Halfon
- How can you write better? Toor, Elbow
- How can we communicate more effectively? Jones
- How can you become a better learner? Krebs
- What kind of schools should students consider? Henderson
- How do you even decide to go to college or not? White
- Suggest a question.
- How should you organize your life? Schlesinger
- What have you learned about life? Schall, Baker, Owens, LaBossiere, Coleman
- What have you learned about people? Shasha
- What have you learned about teaching? Kirp, Johnstun, Duneier
- How does college relate to the real world? Williams
- How do you teach people to do the right thing? Kittle, Allen, Pace, Goldstein
- What would you tell your teenage self? Halasz, Stroup, Rodney, Brighton
- What would you tell your grandchildren? Allen
- What is your mission? Adubato, Allen, Korver
- What is your passion? Hall, Haag
- How did you come to value what you do? Adubato
- What kind of person are you? Perry
- What ethical issues have you faced? (awaiting submission)
- What has gotten you to change your thoughts or feelings? (awaiting submission)
- Suggest a question.
- What should colleges teach? Schwartz/Sharpe, Allen
- Is higher education improving or going down hill? Wolin, Goldrick-Rab, Ramaley, Schwartz
- Is graduate school worth it? Seligman
- Are students learning the best way? Poe, Jaffee, Stavans
- Are we preparing students for the professional world? Shapiro, Schneider
- How can students and faculty improve their interaction? Toth
- Is higher education the best thing for everyone? Yaffe
- Are too many students going to college? Williams
- Is imitation a form of flattery – or stealing? Cohen
- Do we need to pay for knowledge? Rubin
- How much do students know? Dolby
- How will open online courses affect the future of education? Carey, O’Donnell
- Is competition good? Potter
- Where is higher education headed? Martin, Spar, Williams
- Are we evaluating colleges the right way? Hurtado, Hauptman
- Is the admissions process a good one? Schwartz, White
- How should higher education be funded? Urgo
- What do academics do wrong? Lang, Jenkins, Goldstein
- Do we have a moral obligation to care about our students’ futures? Cassuto
- Are our students the customers, the product, or something else? Schlesinger
- Who gets to be on top? Haag, Espenshade, Wilson
- Are colleges doing research the right way? Schell
- How should higher education be funded? Loss
- Is our college here for the students or are the students here for us? (awaiting submission)
- Should our college game the U. S. News rankings? (awaiting submission)
- How is our reputation different from reality? (awaiting submission)
- Should “caveat emptor” be the operative philosophy when we market to students, or should we hold ourselves to a higher standard than, say, a used car dealer? Allen
- Do we have a fiduciary responsibility to put our student’s best financial interests ahead of our own? (awaiting submission)
- What, if anything, should a diploma from our college mean other than having passed a minimum number of courses? (awaiting submission)
- Suggest a question.
College Admissions Essays
Just for fun, we are collecting both wacky and wonderful college admissions essay topics and answers HERE.
by Jacky Brighton
In keeping with the tradition of writing postcards from the holidays home to yourself, here’s a letter from your nearly-enlightened self in the year 2013.
In the last years I have learnt so much about myself that I feel the need to pass some of Continue reading “Dearest Jack”
Is higher education improving or going down hill?
Interview with: Barry Schwartz (Swarthmore)
Q4Colleges.com exclusive interview with Barry Schwartz.
We spoke with Barry Schwartz, who is a Professor at Swarthmore College, author of The Paradox of Choice and Practical Wisdom, and frequent TED speaker.
Q4Colleges: Barry, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I would like to use Q4Colleges as a way of getting higher education back on track on track with regard to the narrative. The questions I had when taking my kids around visiting colleges were, “Who is running these places?” “What are these people like?” “What are they trying to do?” Continue reading “Colleges are Becoming Summer Camps with Libraries”
Are our students the customers, the product, or something else?
by Leonard Schlesinger (Babson)
Schools that identify students as customers are missing the essential reciprocal nature of the educational relationship. As someone who has spent most of his adult life running service enterprises that were truly taking care of customers, the use of that word for what is essentially a partnership relationship demeans the work that faculty do. You would not “flunk” your customer because you don’t want to make him or her unhappy.
The customer mode generally implies a transactional encounter. So, when they’re in line at the dining hall or bookstore or engaging in the administrative functions on campus, then, absolutely, students are customers.
However, what goes on in the classroom is not transactional. When they’re in the classroom, each student is a PILE—a Partner in the Learning Enterprise. A Partner in the Learning Enterprise recognizes that each of us has a set of Continue reading “Students are Not the Customers – Or the Product – But Our Partners”
How does a poor student become a good one?
by Mark Halfon (Nassau Community)
I graduated from high school with a 69 average, which at least was better than all my friends in my Brooklyn street gang. My high school counselor told my mother that I was just not “college material.”
He might have been right; no college wanted me as a student, and who could blame them.
As it turns out Pace College in New York let me pay for classes as long as they didn’t have to give me credit for attending thereby dragging down their rankings. They call this being a “non-matriculated” student. Despite my poor high school record, I excelled in mathematics and thought I would become an accountant. Continue reading “From Street Gang to Ph. D. – It is Easier to Work Harder than Get Smarter.”
Are colleges doing research the right way?
By Jesse Schell (Carnegie Mellon)
This is a transcript of a presentation by Jesse on March 6, 2012 at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. It was part of a panel entitled Game Educators Rant.
Hi everybody. I have a special kind of rant today.
It is directed to a certain segment of the audience. I realize a number of you are here by mistake. There’s a certain percentage of the audience who wandered in here mistakenly reading the session title as “Game Educator Grants.” So this I dedicate to you. We’ll call it my G-Rant. Continue reading “The G-Rant: Please Stop Being Evil and Incompetent”
What is your mission?
by Clint Korver (Stanford)
There is this lovely period when you are working on a Ph.D. after you have gotten all your coursework and tests out of the way when nobody cares what you do; it is kind of an intellectual romp all over the place.
During this time I ran across The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. His second habit is to begin with the end in mind. He basically says that you should create a mission statement for yourself.
So I spent a month or two trying to create a mission statement and I failed utterly. I would think things like, “What if I created a company like Hewlett-Packard; that would be pretty cool.” But if I were on my deathbed looking at my life, would that do it for me? I could imagine ways of doing it that wouldn’t be very fulfilling. It was the same story for everything I came up with; it would depend on how it happened. Continue reading “I Have a Creed Instead of a Mission”
How did you come to value what you do?
by Beth Adubato (Rutgers)
First of all I have wanted to go to William and Mary my whole life because Thomas Jefferson went there and we have the same birthday. That’s what I wrote about in my essay and I’m pretty sure I got in because of my essay; I’m the only one who got in from Essex County in my year. The most students apply from New York and New Jersey and more females apply than males, so it’s really hard to get into William and Mary.
When I got there I didn’t like it. But I wanted to go there my whole life so I decided to stick it out. And I wanted to major in political science and go to law school; that was the whole plan. Continue reading “How I Came to Value Honesty”
What is your passion?
by Pamela Haag
It’s true that “passion” and “mission” get tossed around a lot these days. They sound like things that any college freshman can pick up at the salad bar.
How will you even recognize your passion when you encounter it? Perhaps unwisely, I’m going to propose a practical rather than a gauzy, ponderous answer to that question: A passion is something that you love so much that you want to keep doing it even when you’re failing at it, you need to work hard to do it, and the doing of it occasionally is no fun at all.
That comes as close to a mission in life as I can imagine. I love writing in almost any genre or permutation, even when it’s a nightmare.
Too often, what we’re good at gets Continue reading “Passion – You Can’t Know You’ve Found it Until You Fail”
How do you even decide to go to college or not? and,
Is the admissions process a good one?
By Scott White (Montclair High School)
Does it really matter in life where one goes to college? Yes and no. Late adolescence is an important time in one’s life, a time to try out new personalities and ways of thinking. Psychologist Erik Erikson called it a psycho-social moratorium, a time when you try out for who you want to be without the same consequence you might see later in life. As long as students follow my axiom: “Don’t do anything that can kill you,” there is little one can do that would have permanent consequences. Continue reading “Don’t Do Anything that Can Kill You”
What have you learned about people?
by Dennis Shasha (NYU)
When I entered college, I thought the intellectual world was divided into science people and humanities people. I loved math and physics, so put myself firmly in the former camp.
Funnily though, I found that I had much more in common with painters and sculptors than say with political scientists or economists.
I finally married an artist in fact.
It took me to my first job — designing circuits for computer processors — to realize why. Continue reading “Designers vs. Conversers”