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.”
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”
How can students and faculty improve their interaction?
by Gwendolyn Toth (Montclair State)
When I attended college in the 1970s, it was clear that we were there to learn from our brilliant professors. However, as I look back with 35 years hindsight, I realize that learning occurred not only in the classroom, the laboratory, the rehearsal hall, the dorm rooms, the rec rooms, and late-night bars (we could drink in those days).
We also learned in the dining hall.
Over food we met new friends with new points of view. Discussions started in late-morning classes continued at lunch with both students and teachers.
We all ate together every day.
Fast forward to 2012. Continue reading “Bring Back Meals Together NOW.”
How can you write better?
by: Peter Elbow (UMass)
I got interested in writing because in my first try for a PhD at Harvard, I gradually couldn’t write. I had to quit before I was kicked out and felt like a complete failure because I had so much invested in my image of myself as a good student. When I went back to grad school five years later (at Brandeis) I gradually learned what became my philosophy of writing: I can’t write right, but I can write wrong; and then I can make it right. It’s too hard to take a mess in the head and turn it into coherence on paper; but it’s not so hard to take a mess on paper and turn it into coherence on paper.
My current interests (reflected in my new book) concern the wisdom of the tongue. Starting around age four, we all internalize a native language. No one’s native language is Continue reading “Talk Onto the Page”