Good Titles For Personal Growth Essays About Education

Many of us faced challenges in our formative years and we struggled with them. Some of those struggles might have changed who we are or how we later approached life. Marilyn Campbell is an overcomer. She wrestled with shyness in her young years. Before you read her essay, learn a little more about Marilyn’s background from an update she sent to me:

“I never did quite get the opportunity to thank you [for helping me develop my essay]. Regarding my college process:

I applied to three schools early action: Harvard University, Brown University, and Georgetown University; I applied to Tulane University as a backup school regular decision (it can be considered a backup for those people who reside in-state).

I am happy to say that I was accepted at Brown, at Georgetown (thank you very much!), and at Tulane; I was deferred from Harvard; I am not applying to any more schools.

If there’s something I learned about applying to colleges and watching my friends apply to them, I would recommend applying to as many early action schools as possible by the deadlines. This takes away the stress and work of doing several applications at a very busy time of the year (one is taking exams or they are hanging over our heads).

At the very least, if one applies to one school early action or early decision, s/he should not wait until they receive that school’s response to begin filling out all the other applications waiting in the wings. I know that it is very tempting to wait, but after seeing what this has done to several of my friends, I highly recommend getting an early start.

Finally, I suggest that students don’t blow off their freshman year. If that happens, one will spend the next three years trying to bring up those grades.

Thanks again!

Marilyn

* * * *

Marilyn’s essay:

When I was a young, awkward adolescent, I considered myself to be a shy person, especially around boys. Because of this, my experiences at a coed middle school intimidated me somewhat. So, for the past five years, I have attended an all-girls school, which has helped me to become a stronger person. I have overcome my shyness and insecurities and developed much more confidence.

Ironically, I believe that my shyness, something that I consider a communication barrier, has ultimately led me to focus on a field for my life’s work: communications. Despite my aversion to it early on in life, I now love speaking to and interacting with people, be it as a friend, teacher, or public speaker. I now have a passion for stimulating conversation, and that enthusiasm manifests itself in three different and important aspects of my life outside of the classroom: peer support, volunteer work, and music.

Peer support is a high school-sponsored program through which juniors and seniors are selected to work with eighth graders who attend Sacred Heart. It involves an intensive three-day workshop where student leaders learn how to listen effectively to and become mentors for the younger students. I love this work. Once a week, I get to speak to these impressionable boys and girls about anything that I feel is important. I enjoy learning about their lives and their issues and exploring possible solutions to their problems. We study today’s society and its impact on them. I see much of my old self in these young people and that memory has helped me to help them become more confident about their everyday lives.

My volunteer work centers on teaching, through a program called Summerbridge. After school, I go to a nearby public school and tutor learning-disadvantaged preteens. Instead of dealing with the students’ personal issues, as I do in peer support, the Summerbridge focus is more on communication through education. By working with these younger students, I have come to understand the importance of helping them comprehend and apply what they learn in the classroom. Their motivation, given their circumstances, is remarkable. We discuss in detail what they are learning so that I can keep them interested and motivated. Summerbridge is another example of how communication issues are very important to me.

Not surprisingly, music has emerged as another, perhaps indirect, avenue for me to communicate with others. Singing allows me to convey my deep and personal emotions with others. When I sing, I am transported to another realm. The mundane everyday world around me disappears, and I am enveloped in my own, new space, especially when I am performing onstage. When I act, I am transformed, feeling the happiness, sadness, impishness, or even confusion that my character feels. My performance taps into that part of me where those qualities dwell, and I love sharing it with my audience. Music is a very special form of communication for me.

Perhaps the person I am today is a compensation for who I was years ago. That awkward twelve-year old, however, is no more. Now I want to show the world what I can do. Communication has become my passion. It will be my future.

Education and the Commercial Mindset

Samuel E. Abrams

“In Education and the Commercial Mindset, Abrams provides a detailed, informative and insightful account of the rise and fall of The Edison Project, as a case study of for-profit schools… Abrams demonstrates that for-profit schools have no incentives to consider long term educational or social goals. Obsessed with achievement metrics that might persuade consumers to purchase their product, they often exclude students with cognitive, emotional or behavioral problems. Or with failing grades… Running schools like businesses won’t solve the problem.”—Glenn C. Altschuler, The Huffington Post

“[An] outstanding book.”—Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post

Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology

Michelle D. Miller

“If you teach with technology in any form, at any level, I recommend you put this book at the top of your tottering pile of required reading on higher education. It’s an outstanding book that provides a road map for truly effective online teaching. What distinguishes [Miller’s] book from much of the research available on teaching with technology, and pushes it beyond arguments about improving access, is her emphasis on the ways in which online teaching tools can actually improve learning for all students—not just those who have no access to traditional face-to-face classrooms.”—James Lang, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Honorable Mention, 2015 PROSE Award, Education Theory category, Association of American Publishers • A Chronicle of Higher Education “Top 10 Books on Teaching” Selection, 2014

“If you want to read a lively and engaging book on the science of learning, this is a must… Make It Stick benefits greatly from its use of stories about people who have achieved mastery of complex knowledge and skills. Over the course of the book, the authors weave together stories from an array of learners—surgeons, pilots, gardeners, and school and university students—to illustrate their arguments about how successful learning takes place… This is a rich and resonant book and a pleasurable read that will leave you pondering the processes through which you, and your students, acquire new knowledge and skills.”—Hazel Christie, Times Higher Education

No Citizen Left Behind

Meira Levinson

2014 NASSP Book Award, North American Society for Social Philosophy • 2013 AESA Critics’ Choice Award, American Educational Studies Association • 2013 Michael Harrington Book Award, New Political Science Section of the American Political Science Association • Co-Winner, 2013 Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award, National Council for the Social Studies

“Levinson advocates restoring civic education, which gives young people insights into the workings of the American political system, to the educational curriculum on a national scale. She believes that ensuring all students receive the same civic education would strengthen our country and cause more citizens to take an active role in its government… The experiences and research Levinson shares have the potential to produce a national ‘aha’ moment.”—Terry Christner, Library Journal

What the Best College Students Do

Ken Bain

“Some very good books are worth reading for a few splendid pages alone. Ken Bain’s What the Best College Students Do is one such book… [It] combines interviews with a review of academic research on university learning… The ‘best’ students are curious risk-takers who make connections across disciplines. By following those instincts—rather than simply chasing ‘success’—the best students achieved it. Bain’s new book is a wonderful exploration of excellence.”—David A. Kaplan, Fortune

Measurement

Paul Lockhart

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013

“Lockhart is famous in the math world for a 2002 essay about the state of mathematics teaching. He described it as akin to teaching music by forcing children to transcribe notation without ever touching an instrument or singing. Measurement is his attempt to change the equation: a conversational book about mathematics as an art that invites the reader to join in the fun. Sounding every bit the teacher whose love for his subject is infectious, he guides us through exercises in geometry and calculus—giving information and hints along the way while always encouraging us to ask, and answer, ‘Why?’ Lockhart does not try to make math seem easy; instead he wants his readers to understand that the difficulty brings rewards.”—Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American

Trusting What You’re Told: How Children Learn from Others

Paul L. Harris

Co-winner, 2014 Eleanor Maccoby Book Award, American Psychological Association (Division 7, Developmental Psychology) • 2013 Book Award, Cognitive Development Society

“Harris argues that the longstanding idea that kids should be self-learners who gain knowledge mainly from their own explorations and observations is flawed… Harris’ book explores lots of interesting ideas, including the impact of a mother’s level of education on a child’s inquisitiveness and why kids trust what they learn from their parents.”
—Julie Rasicot, Education Week

Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It

Russell W. Rumberger

“The most complete examination of the dropout issue I have ever seen… Rumberger examines every complex nuance, summarizes every important research paper and demolishes every Internet myth. His book is a masterpiece, something education wonks will keep close by… We can’t make any improvements, however, without knowing what hasn’t helped dropouts, and why. On those vital questions, this book will be the best resource for years to come.”
—Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

Teaching What You Don’t Know

Therese Huston

Finalist, 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year Award, Education Category

“The hints and tips provided here will be valuable perhaps everywhere that there is a higher education system… Teaching What You Don’t Know will find a good audience as a rescue manual for the young, as it assuages the anxieties facing the postgraduate or the postdoctoral teacher. The book, which clearly draws on a wide range of teaching experience on the U.S. scene, offers good advice and outlines some useful strategies. Huston does, moreover, dig up issues that have become ever more pressing over the past few years.”—Leslie Gofton, Times Higher Education

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