This website was moved from its original location and most of the links are broken. Because this website is dormant we might not get around to fixing it but if it is important to you then please write to me and let me know. My name is Brooke Allen and I am at: Brooke@BrookeAllen.com


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, BakerOwens, 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,
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.

Critical Thinking

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? HurtadoHauptman  
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? Q4Colleges
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.


Colleges are Becoming Summer Camps with Libraries

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”

Students are Not the Customers – Or the Product – But Our Partners

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”

From Street Gang to Ph. D. – It is Easier to Work Harder than Get Smarter.

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.”

The G-Rant: Please Stop Being Evil and Incompetent

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”

I Have a Creed Instead of a Mission

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 I Came to Value Honesty

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”