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David@Q4Colleges.com – Thanks, David Cha, Editor.

For encouragement and advice on writing essays, read our Contributor Guide.

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Use this form to submit an essay.

Your essay may be as long as you wish but we strongly recommend you limit it to 1,500 words. You must identify yourself and your institution, however your name (but not institution) will be withheld upon request.

Guidelines and clarifications appear below the submission form.

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Guidelines and Clarifications.

 

Write simply. Winston Churchill said, “Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all.” Please write the way you would speak to a friend and avoid jargon.
You don’t need to be original – just sincere. Even if someone has already said what you believe, we still want to know what that is.
Don’t restrict yourself. Our essay topics are just suggestions. Write anything you wish as long as it will either reveal your character or teach a lesson.
This is about you, not them. Talk about who you are, what you do, and who you want to become. Don’t talk about what others should do.

 

Suggested questions regarding personal character:

  1. What is your personal mission? People with a purpose are usually happier and more effective than those who feel their life has no purpose.
  2. How did you come by your values? Telling how you came to value something is much more persuasive than just telling what it is. You don’t need to express all your values, just one or two that are either fundamental or unusual.
  3. Discuss an ethical issue that you have faced. We all need to know how to do the right thing and recognize when we don’t. Help others learn by telling them what you’ve done and learned. Remember, admitting a failure usually carries more weight than recounting a victory.
  4. Tell a story that changed how you think or feel. Please describe an instance where you’ve changed your mind so others can learn by example how it is done.

Suggested questions colleges should ask themselves.

Talk about what your own college is like and refrain from giving advice to any institution but your own.

  • Is our college here for the students or are the students here for us? A career officer asked herself this question after her President told her not to disclose the fact that for years not one student with a certain major had found work. He said, “Students will change majors and then what am I going to do with the department?” Do our student’s interests come before our own?
  • Should our college game the U. S. News rankings? Rankings can be changed by increasing the number of small classes (while making big ones bigger), changing how benefits are reported as pay, etc. (See: here.) Should we play this game just because others do?
  • If we do not game the U. S. News rankings, should we “out” those that do? In a competitive marketplace, don’t participants have a duty to keep the playing field level and call out cheaters? If not us, who?
  • How is our reputation different from reality? Do we have a duty to make public the truth about ourselves, or should we emphasize our positives and leave it to others to uncover the negatives?
  • Should “caveat emptor” be the operative philosophy when we market to students, or should we hold ourselves to a higher standard than, say, a car manufacturer? Do we have a higher commitment to the truth than businesses? Are we selling when we should be informing?
  • Do we have a fiduciary responsibility to put our student’s best financial interests ahead of our own? Going to college can be much more expensive than buying a house. If the house you bought was a mistake you can sell it, and you can walk away from a non-recourse mortgage. Even if we need the revenue, should we refuse some students because it would be imprudent for them gut their family savings or borrow to attend?
  • Should we disclose if our admissions process is “need blind?” If we once were need blind but we can no longer afford to be, should we make a point of saying so?
  • Should applicants be allowed to opt-in to a need blind process so that they can know that if they are admitted it was solely on the basis of merit? Do students have a right to know the real reasons they were admitted?
  • What kinds of students discover after they get here that this is not the place for them? Do we know what kind of person doesn’t fit? Are we trying to find out? Should we help applicants decide if this is NOT the place for them?
  • What, if anything, should a diploma from our college mean other than having passed a minimum number of courses? Should our students have certain minimum skills, knowledge, and ethics? Should they be able to score at least as well on standardized tests when they leave as when they applied?
  • Are students the customers, the product, or something else? Students at a business school said that because they were paying so much they deserved more prestigious lecturers. The president responded, “You’re not the customer. You’re the product.” What role, exactly, do your students play?

 

 

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