Summer Reads

Perhaps because I’m the president of a college where we read and study some of the greatest books ever written, I’m often asked what I have on my summer reading list. I suspect people wonder whether I ever read the sort of light literature that is so popular in the summertime and on vacations, or whether it’s all heavy classics all the...
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5 Things to Do When You Get to College

Congratulations to graduates in the Class of 2015. Graduating high-school students often ask me how college will differ from high school. And what I say usually seems to come as a surprise: In college, you should start thinking much more seriously about happiness. “What does college have to do with happiness?” you may be thinking. And who can blame you? You have...
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The Wisdom of Virtuous Friendship

This past Sunday, St. John’s College in Annapolis held its 223rd commencement ceremony. By long tradition, the outgoing senior class selects the commencement speaker. This year, the seniors chose long-time tutor Jonathan Tuck, who retired in 2013 after more than thirty years of service to St. John’s. Mr. Tuck spoke about our common efforts, about our single community of tutors...
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Our Musical College: Even the Dog Sings! (Video Highlights)

St. John’s, as I often say to new acquaintances and prospective students, is a very musical college. When they inevitably ask what I mean, I reply that ours must be one of very few colleges—and quite probably the only one—in which all students must sing in chorus throughout their freshman year, and must study music for the entirety of their...
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An Educational Summer Ahead – Internships for Liberal Artists

As the school year winds down, I’ve been talking to more and more students about how they intend to spend summer break. A good many of them will be taking up summer internships. A summer internship is a win/win proposition, both for employers and for students. The business, research lab, or nonprofit gets a willing and energetic young worker who...
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Bravery through Education

I find that our students can provide the most inspiring accounts of the St. John’s experience. They present St. John’s from the viewpoint that matters most—from the perspective of those for whom the College exists. Every spring, the Caritas Society of St. John’s College holds a luncheon at which a student who has benefitted from its programs is asked to...
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5 Simple Steps Colleges Can Take to Enhance Student Satisfaction

Sometimes complex problems respond to simple remedies. I was reading recently how psychologists David Yeager and Greg Walton discovered that the dropout rate for disadvantaged college students could be cut significantly simply by exposing them to a one-time, thirty-to-forty-five-minute-long presentation on neuroplasticity showing that people can improve their brain functioning on complex intellectual tasks just by practicing. A simple message—that you can...
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Let’s Stop Making Poor Investments in Education

After more than a decade of “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB)—the 2001 Act of Congress that was supposed “to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice”—it has clearly failed. Congress is busily engaged in efforts to reform the bill, whose reauthorization remains doubtful. In his recent article for Newsweek.com, Paul Thomas writes about the reasons for the failure. He begins by noting the dependence of...
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