Anyone for Summer Camp?

Are students learning the best way?

By Ilan Stavans (Amherst)

Middle age is a strange place. The past is set. It has a taste. But the future is shorter than before. How to navigate it without repeating what we’ve done? How to keep passion alive?

I didn’t set out to be a teacher. My dreams were elsewhere. Yet teaching is what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years. Other than the time I’ve spent in my home, I haven’t been anywhere as frequently as in the classroom, with people increasingly younger than me. I often ask myself: Is it possible to discuss a book I know by heart, like One Hundred Years of Solitude, without sounding trite? Continue reading “Anyone for Summer Camp?”

We Should Look to Other Indicators to Measure Worth and Value

Are we evaluating colleges the right way?

By Arthur M. Hauptman (Consultant)

There is little question that the shift in policy focus in this country over the past decade from access to success has been a positive development. College officials and policy makers at both the federal and state levels now recognize that it is not enough to measure the scope of higher education just in terms of how many students enroll; if we as a nation are to remain globally competitive, it is also critical to ensure that more students actually complete their program and attain a degree. Continue reading “We Should Look to Other Indicators to Measure Worth and Value”

My Ignorance and Me, in Front of a Classroom

What have you learned about teaching?

by Kase Johnstun (Tacoma CC)

I’m a transplant to Tacoma, Wash., like many. Before packing up the truck, loading up the dogs, and leaving behind a stiff mortgage in Salt Lake City, I heard the warnings and rumors about T-Town. “It stinks.” “Tacoma Aroma.” “Full of crack whores, bums, and gangs.” But when the yellow truck dropped down from Snoqualmie Pass, as we traveled along the Green River, and when we pulled into our apartment complex that sat on the edge of rippling waters of Commencement Bay, I knew the complainers, the voices that dominated chat rooms and review boards, had it wrong. Or maybe they just hadn’t seen Tacoma through the eyes of a transplant and his ignorance. Continue reading “My Ignorance and Me, in Front of a Classroom”

The Pleasures of the Unfamiliar

What kind of person are you?

by Curtis Perry (U of Illinois)

If you read this and come see me at the University of Illinois, I think you’ll find me to be generous and helpful but not chummy.  I am myself a private and somewhat reserved person—which is why I’ve chosen to write about my scholarly rather than my personal life here—but I do like to be helpful and I love meeting earnest students who want to get the most out of their college experiences. Continue reading “The Pleasures of the Unfamiliar”

How My Brother’s Death Shaped My Life

Admissions Essay: Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

By Michael S. Roth (Wesleyan)

Michael Roth tells a very personal story about his deceased brother’s influence, and how he strives for goodness as a way of honoring the brother he never knew. His studies and research on tragedy and loss stem from his family’s own experience with death. Read his inspiring essay from the Wall Street Journal.

Michael Roth is the current president of Wesleyan University and former president of California College of the Arts. He is the author of five books, including Memory, Trauma, and History: Essays on Living with the Past, which was published Fall 2011.

How My Professors Shaped Me

Admissions Essay: Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

By Catharine Hill (Vassar)

For Catharine Hill, it was more than one person who made an impact in her life. It was two specific professors that encouraged her to take her love of economics and education and merge the two, thus bringing her to the position she holds today. You can read about the influence they held in her essay for the Wall Street Journal.

Catharine Hill is the president of Vassar College and former provost at Williams College. An economist by trade, she previously worked for The World Bank and the Congressional Budget Office.

What I Found By Getting Lost

Admissions Essay: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

Summary of essay by Robert Oden (Carleton)

Robert Oden compares his getting lost in Cairo to getting lost in college; both are adventures where you can learn about life and humanity. Finding his way home from the pyramids reminded him that people are people and we are all here to help each other. Read more from his Wall Street Journal essay.

Robert Oden was a religion professor with The Teaching Company and president of Carleton College from 2002-2010. He is currently retired.

Why You Need To Live The Question

Admissions Essay: Comment on: “At present you need to live the question.” –Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the German by Joan M. Burnham

By Robert J. Zimmer (U of Chicago)

Robert Zimmer discusses what it means to live the question – to look at the world with wonder. The key to living the question (according to Zimmer): challenge your assumptions, question others and listen. Read more from his Wall Street Journal essay.

Robert Zimmer is a mathematician and former provost of Brown University. He is the current president of the University of Chicago.

What Diversity Means To Me

By Colin Diver (Reed)

Essay Question: What has demonstrated the need for diversity to you?

Colin Diver tells about his experience attacking a mugger and how it affected his views on diversity and community. Was he right for defending a woman against a poor, brown-skinned criminal? Or was he inflicting his white, upper-middle class beliefs on his now multi-cultural South Boston neighborhood? Diver tells his story story in an essay for the Wall Street Journal.

Colin Diver is an attorney who held several positions in Massachusetts government, including special counsel to former Boston mayor Kevin White. He is the former Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and current president of Reed College.

What Edmund Burke Did For Me

Admissions Essay: Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

By Russell K. Osgood (Grinnell)

Russell Osgood models his views on justice and compassion after conservative icon Edmund Burke. His adulation and respect comes from Burke’s belief that change is best accomplished by a gradual movement in structures and institutions rather than by a violent upheaval. Osgood wants to lead his own life that way. For more, read his essay from the Wall Street Journal.

Russell Osgood was president of Grinnell College from 1998-2010. He is currently serving as Visiting Professor of Law at Washington University Law.