Further thoughts on the new scholarship at Shimer College

I’m going to continue to post on the new scholarship for transfer students at Shimer College approximately once a week until the application deadline of November 15. We find that Shimer often proves to be a good fit for students who are bored or frustrated with more traditional, authority-centered modes of education, and so their official record may tell us very little about their ability to succeed in our program. As with our four-year full-tuition award, the Montaigne Scholarship, students must show their aptitude for Shimer’s distinctive pedagogy by writing about and discussing an important, challenging text — in this case, Adrienne Rich’s essay “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity.” After they submit their application with their essay, they will be contacted by a Shimer faculty member (possibly me, in this case) by November 26 to conduct an admissions interview that includes a discussion of Rich’s text. The winner will be announced in early December.

If you teach at a community college and know a student with a real passion for books and ideas, I encourage you to let them know about this opportunity. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting videos from previous transfer students who will share their experience at Shimer, but I can tell you from my perspective that our transfers often prove to be among our best students. We’ve also benefited greatly from having a number of students who are older than traditional college age, so older students shouldn’t hesitate to apply.

On another note: one of my most popular blog posts was My Radical Pedagogical Program, which emphasized the gap between what we all know to be educational best practices and what the typical college prioritizes. What I didn’t say explicitly in that post is that at Shimer, we actually do the educational best practices. I know that many of my readers have been deeply concerned about corporatization of the university and have perhaps written eloquently in critique of those trends. That’s valuable, but I don’t think it’s a subsitute for helping an institution that really is doing the things that we’d hope for all colleges to do — and that, due to its urban setting, is uniquely positioned to reach the kinds of populations who are most often targeted by corporatized universities and for-profits.

To continue doing what we do, we need support — and the very best way to support Shimer’s mission is to support its students directly. As I noted last time, this form allows you to designate that you want your donation to go toward the fund for this scholarship — or if you prefer, you can also call Mary Pat Barbarie, our Director of Development, at 312-235-3539. I know that our audience is not a wealthy one, but if you have anything to spare, I urge you to seriously consider supporting this scholarship fund.