Colleges are Becoming Summer Camps with Libraries

Is higher education improving or going down hill?

Interview with: Barry Schwartz (Swarthmore) 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”

Colleges Should Teach Intellectual Virtues

What should colleges teach?

By Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe (Swarthmore)

Look at what colleges state as their aims, and you’ll find a predictable list: Teach students how to think critically and analytically; teach them how to write and calculate; teach them the skills of their discipline. As important as such goals are, another fundamental goal is largely being neglected—developing the intellectual virtues they need to be good students, and good citizens.

Some academics may cringe at being charged with the task of developing virtue, believing that it’s a job for others—especially when there is so little agreement about what “virtue” even means in a pluralistic society like ours. They are mistaken. In fact, we often encourage such development—if a bit unreflectively. We would do much better to take the time to think through what the central intellectual virtues are, why they are so important, and how they should be integrated into our curricula: Continue reading “Colleges Should Teach Intellectual Virtues”

Top Colleges Should Select Randomly From a Pool of ‘Good Enough

Is the admissions process a good one?

by Barry Schwartz (Swarthmore)

(Originally published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, February 25, 2005.)


Jane is preparing for a dinner party. For dessert she intends to make a Grand Marnier soufflé. She’s made it before, and it’s come out fine, but she’s been wondering whether all the elaborate steps in the recipe are really necessary. She’d like to experiment, to see if the preparation can be simplified. But she won’t experiment today. Today she’ll follow the recipe as she has before, because she wants to be sure the soufflé works. Continue reading “Top Colleges Should Select Randomly From a Pool of ‘Good Enough”