By Jessica Shambora
May 7, 2009

“I learned that life is an adventure and that the best course through life is to approach all of life as an adventure…Getting lost is an adventure from which we can learn uncommon and uncommonly important life lessons.”

— Carleton College President Robert Oden in a college application essay in the Wall Street Journal. At the Journal‘s request, the presidents of 10 colleges and universities answered an essay question from their own school’s application–a grueling ritual high-school seniors endure every year. By now, most students have received their acceptance (and rejection) letters for the coming fall and face the dilemma of which school to attend.

The essay prompt for Carleton’s Oden: “Evaluate a significant experience, acheivement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.” Oden wrote about getting lost in Cairo while living there as a student. No sooner had he begun to panic than Oden realized he was safe and stumbled upon one of life’s greatest lessons about the value of the journey. –Jessica Shambora

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