In the College Years

Selected Publications of the BSC

in_the_college_years_coverIn the College Years is a collection of publications by BSC staff members. Since its founding in 1946, the Bureau of Study Counsel has produced a significant body of research, essays, and instructional materials related to college life and learning; a selection of these are featured here.

We hope that whether you are a student, teacher, scholar, or all of the above, you will find something interesting, inspiring, or useful in these pages.

"Am I the Only One Who...": Things that Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors Imagine No One Else is Thinking or Feeling
Shindler C, Reindl S. "Am I the Only One Who..": Things that Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors Imagine No One Else is Thinking or Feeling. 2012.Abstract

Students often feel alone with the challenges of college life and learning, when in fact their doubts and struggles are often shared by others. "At every stage in their undergraduate careers students are liable to confront personal challenges, to experience moments of self-doubt, and to wonder “am I the only one?” This thoughtful guide offers practical advice on how to work through such challenges. Taken together, the lessons it imparts form a kind of student’s roadmap to a balanced life." — Glenn Brody Magid, Assistant Dean of Advising Programs, Harvard University.

Academic Amnesia
Lipson A. Academic Amnesia. 1997.Abstract

Why does the mind suddenly go blank when confronted with an exam question? How is it that we can read a sentence and yet not remember a thing we just read? This essay, published in Harvard Magazine, explores the nature of "academic amnesia" and offers specific suggestions for improving one's academic memory.

"Academic Amnesia provides an insightful reflection on the ways in which memory can go wrong and how we can take steps to improve it." — Daniel L. Schacter, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Seven Sins of Memory.

Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts: An Epistemological Inquiry
William G. Perry J. Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts: An Epistemological Inquiry. 1963.Abstract

This classic essay examines the true story of the "Abominable Mr. Metzger," a Harvard undergraduate who, on impulse, sat for an exam in a course in which he was not enrolled. The grade he received raises fundamental questions about the nature of hard work and critical thinking in college. "Although written almost half a century ago, Perry's analysis of the values embedded in the exam process is surprisingly relevant to students and teachers today. Perry delivers his insights with a rare dry wit." — Abigail Lipson, Director, Bureau of Study Counsel, Harvard University.

Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years:  A Scheme 
William G. Perry J. Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years:  A Scheme . Wiley; 1998 pp. 336. Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A SchemeAbstract

Perry’s study of college student development remains a classic today, even though it was grounded in a cultural climate of a very different era. William G. Perry, Jr. was the founding director of the Bureau of Study Counsel at Harvard University, and his book inspired the name for the current collection of publications: In the College Years.

This book is available for purchase from the publisher: Jossey-Bass.

How to Have a Really Successful Failure
Lipson A. How to Have a Really Successful Failure. 2009.Abstract

This essay is dedicated "to you, in particular, if you have failed recently or spectacularly." With vivid examples, the essay challenges our assumptions about the nature of failure and suggests five tips for successful failing. "Think of failure like a scientific experiment. This little booklet will help you understand what variables matter, recognize how they work, and make meaning of the results. You will discover that a failure provides you with a window of clarity, a gift of wisdom." — Robin Mount, Director, Office of Career, Research, and International Opportunities, Harvard University.

Listening and Talking with Fellow Students: A Guide for Peer Counselors, Peer Educators, and Peer Advisors
Reindl SM, Renna SM. Listening and Talking with Fellow Students: A Guide for Peer Counselors, Peer Educators, and Peer Advisors. 2012.Abstract

College students rely as much on one another as they do on the “adults” in their lives – perhaps even more so. This practical guide for peer counselors, peer educators, and peer advisers vividly illustrates some of the factors that make for good conversation and good relationships. "If only more people could subscribe to these guiding ideas, the world as a whole would be such a kinder, gentler, and responsive space." — Maureen Rezendes, Psychologist, Counseling and Mental Health Services, Harvard University.

On Helplessness, Contempt, and Forgiveness 
Morimoto K. On Helplessness, Contempt, and Forgiveness . 1982.Abstract

Kiyo Morimoto, the second Director of the Bureau of Study Counsel, offered these reflections as Morning Prayers at the Memorial Church at Harvard University between 1982 and 1984. They speak to students' efforts, indeed all our efforts, to accept our own and others' limits, recognize our own and others' authority, and maintain a sense of hope and caring even in the face of shame, suffering, or tragedy. “Reflecting on his experience, Morimoto offers us three delightful and thought provoking meditations on how we might live harmoniously within ourselves and with others.” — M. Suzanne Renna, Associate Director (Retired), Bureau of Study Counsel, Harvard University.

Reflections on Rejections
Lipson A ed. Reflections on Rejections. 2013.Abstract

Students' assumptions about success and failure will be challenged by this collection of rejection letters received by Harvard University faculty, deans, students, and alums, along with the recipients' reflections regarding the nature of winning and losing, pride and humility, despair and resilience. "Whether you read this booklet or not, you will be rejected. The difference is between feeling there is no another tomorrow and tomorrow is another day.“ — Xiao-Li Meng, Whipple V.N. Jones Professor of Statistics; Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Responding to Students About Their Work
Reindl SM. Responding to Students About Their Work. 2012.Abstract

In responding to students' written work, a teacher might adopt a number of roles -- including critic, doctor, coach, or fellow learner.  This essay identifies specific language, assumptions, and efforts associated with ten such roles and considers the importance of being mindful of one's roles and intentions when responding to students' work.

The Confused Student in Introductory Science
Lipson A. The Confused Student in Introductory Science. [Internet]. 1992. The Confused Student in Introductory ScienceAbstract

A student's confusion in response to course material is often interpreted as a sign that the student is not learning well or that the teacher is not teaching well. But an analysis of student journals in introductory college science courses reveals five specific sources of confusion that may be inherent to the process of learning in science. This essay was published in College Teaching and is available online: The Confused Student in Introductory Science.

The Four-Point Approach to Problem Solving in Math and Science
Lipson A. The Four-Point Approach to Problem Solving in Math and Science. 2012.Abstract

Problem solving in math and science can be, well, problematic. This four-point guide explains the whys and hows of effective problem solving in college-level math and science.
"The Four-Point Approach is a tremendous resource for students looking to improve their problem solving skills - a must read! I enthusiastically recommend it." — Thomas Torello, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies; Lecturer on Molecular and Cellular Biology; Tutor in Biochemical Sciences, Harvard University.

The Responsible Plagiarist: Understanding Students Who Misuse Sources
Lipson A, Reindl S. The Responsible Plagiarist: Understanding Students Who Misuse Sources. In: About Campus. Wiley ; 1995. The Responsible Plagiarist: Understanding Students Who Misuse SourcesAbstract

Many students who misuse sources, or even plagiarize, may actually be doing their best to act like responsible scholars. This essay examines how it is that even well-meaning students can go wrong in their use of sources and what teachers can do to help. This essay was published in About Campus and is available on line: The Responsible Plagiarist: Understanding Students Who Misuse Sources.

The Road to Digitopolis: Perils of Problem Solving
Lipson A. The Road to Digitopolis: Perils of Problem Solving. In: School Science and Mathematics. Wiley ; 1995. The Road to Digitopolis: Perils of Problem SolvingAbstract

Problem solving in math and science is an adventure that is fraught with perils. An inspired instance of problem solving found in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth provides a framework for discussing the psychology of problem-solving in undergraduate math and science. This essay was published in School Science and Mathematics and is available on line: The Road to Digitopolis: Perils of Problem Solving.

What Do Teachers Mean by "Collaborate"? 
Reindl SM. What Do Teachers Mean by "Collaborate"? . 2012.Abstract

Collaboration among students is sometimes encouraged in college courses and sometimes forbidden. This essay explores different roles students play when working together and considers the implications regarding academic integrity. “This thoughtful document parses distinctions between modes of scholarly collaboration. It is not a policy statement, but a much needed conceptual guide that will help students appreciate how collaborative work benefits their learning and where it can lead to confusion.” — Terry Aladjem, Executive Director, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Lecturer on Social Studies, Harvard University.

Additional Publications by BSC Staff

Phillips A, Lipson A. Success and Failure: Creating Conversations on Campus. In: Bader JB Dean's List: Eleven Habits of Highly Successful College Students. The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2011. pp. 15-16.

Reindl S. Sensing the Self. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 2002.

Ducey C. Harvard happiness and its relation to early wishes, autonomy and intimacy. The Harvard Crimson. 1999.

Ducey C. Student difficulties as disguised efforts at adaptation. Harvard/Radcliffe Parents Newsletter. 1998.

A. P, A. L, Basseches M. Empathy and Listening Skills: A Developmental Perspective on Learning to Listen. In: Sinnott JD Interdisciplinary Handbook of Adult Lifespan Learning. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press; 1994. pp. 301-324.

Lipson A, Tobias S. Why do (some of our best) college students leave science?. Journal of College Science Teaching. 1991;XXI(2):92-96.

Lipson A. School is Hell: Metaphors for Learning. Teaching and Learning: The Journal of Natural Inquiry. 1990;4(1):11-20.

Basseches M. Dialectical Thinking and Adult Development. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Co.; 1984.

Morimoto K, Gregory J, Butler P. Notes on setting the context for learning. Harvard Educational Review. 1973;43(2):245-257.

Perry, W. G. J. On advising and counseling. Harvard University Bureau of Study Counsel; 1972.

Morimoto K. On trying to understand the frustrations of students. 1972.