Passion – You Can’t Know You’ve Found it Until You Fail

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”

Advertisements

Don’t Do Anything that Can Kill You

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”

Get a Clue, College-Bound!

What would you tell your teenage self?

by Steve Halasz

Dear Steve,

It’s 1966 and you’re excited and nervous about starting your first year at Hiram, a small liberal arts college on a pleasant hill in Ohio that has a well-deserved reputation for intellectualism.  As your 64 year old self, I know what’s coming and so I’m writing to clue you in.

You are going to Hiram because (1) it’s a charming campus with lovely old buildings on a sweet hillside with a great view of the countryside, (2) it’s not far from home, (3) you got a scholarship, (4) Harvard didn’t accept you.  But mostly, you’re going there because you are an intellectual, and there are few places in the U.S. where intellectuals are Continue reading “Get a Clue, College-Bound!”

Life Is Never What You Expect It To Be, And That’s Okay

What would you tell your high school self?

by Adrienne Rodney (Q4Colleges.com)

Hi Adrienne,

You probably have an idea (or wish) of what life will be like at 32. I’m sure you’re very successful (you want to be a publicist, right?), thin, educated and probably married with children. I’m sure you also got to where you wanted to be by 27. Am I right? Is this what you imagine?

Unfortunately life doesn’t work the way you want it to. That doesn’t mean life is worthless, just that what you envision is not always reality.

Life at 32 will be NOTHING like you think it will be, but that’s okay. There are some lessons I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to pass to you.

1. Don’t let others make important decisions for you.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. You’re going to want to Continue reading “Life Is Never What You Expect It To Be, And That’s Okay”

A Technological Cloud Hangs Over Higher Education

Where is higher education headed?

by Keith Williams (U Virginia)

I was there when it happened. And for the record: I did object. I was but a teaching assistant; the decision was not mine. The decision was to replace the pendulums and other demonstration gizmos in the undergraduate physics teaching laboratory with computers and software.

To be sure, the change would be convenient: no more time-consuming preparation of experiments, no more lectures on how to make demonstrations work, no more disinclined planes or springs sprung too far. This was cutting-edge. The students would love it. Students like computers. And aren’t computers the future? Don’t we need to get with the times and prepare students for the information age?

With great reluctance, I packed up the Continue reading “A Technological Cloud Hangs Over Higher Education”

The Distracted Academic Self

What is your passion?

By Donald E. Hall (Lehigh)

When I published The Academic Self: An Owner’s Manual (Ohio State University Press) 10 years ago, there was one point I hoped to make above all others: I wanted academic readers to understand the absolute necessity of continuously working to sort out what we can change or influence in our own lives and selves, and what we cannot.

Much has changed since then, but I believe that point is just as valid today.

Back in 2002, my work life was so hectic that I had to microschedule everything just to keep my sanity intact. I was working at California State University at Northridge, a teaching-intensive institution, holding two administrative appointments, and commuting two or sometimes three hours a day on Los Angeles freeways.

The context of my work has changed significantly in the past decade. I have made two Continue reading “The Distracted Academic Self”

Are Elite Colleges Worth It?

Who gets to be on top?

By Pamela Haag

Kurt Vonnegut’s son, Mark, wrote in his memoir The Eden Express that the best thing about graduating from college is that you can say what a pile of crap college is and “no one can accuse you of sour grapes.”

Mark attended Swarthmore College. I did too, graduating in 1988. I got a Ph.D. from Yale seven years later. My education might brand me as an “elite” today—the word has become an insult. But since I didn’t come from privilege, money, power, or connections, my story is a variation of what we used to celebrate, not ridicule, as upward mobility.

In my high school, I was one of a few Continue reading “Are Elite Colleges Worth It?”