Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?

Citation: MLA format

Topic:  Mark Edmundson considers the purpose of a college education in his essay “Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?,” using his personal motivations as a starting point. Write an essay that explains the purpose of a college education: what is it and what should it be? What prevents the college experience from reaching its full potential for students and what has driven it off course?

Use information from at least two of the assigned sources (readings and/or TED Talks) from this module to support your argument.

Paper Description/ Requirements:

  • Write an essay of at least 700 words in response to the above prompt. This includes the first word of the essay to the last word of the essay; the title, heading, and Works Cited page are not included in the word count.
  • Follow the document formatting guidelines as indicated in the MLA section of your handbook.  Instructions for MLA format are in Module 0, and an example essay is on page 161 of The Tiger Guide to Writing.
  • Use in-text, parenthetical citations in MLA format each time you paraphrase, summarize, or quote directly from a source. 
  • Include a corresponding MLA-formatted Works Cited page.
  • Use third-person academic voice for all essays in this course. Do NOT use first person (I, me, my, we, us, our) or second person (you, your).
  • Use the literary present tense (say “Giovanni argues for control” not “Giovanni argued for control”).
  • Save and submit your work as either Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or a Rich Text Document (.rtf).
  • The Originality Report generated by Turn It In must not exceed 25%. Submit work early to review the report and contact your instructor with questions.


  • https://www.ted.com/talks/anindya_kundu_the_boost_students_need_to_overcome_obstacles  
  • Tiger Guide to Writing: pages CH-4 – CH-6, CH-23 – CH-28, and 2-10
  • They Say / I Say: “As He Himself Puts It” (pp. 43-51)
  • Writing on the River:
    • “Campus Racism 101” by Giovanni (pp. 68-71)
    • “David Foster Wallace, In His Own Words” by Wallace (pp. 72-79)
    • “Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?” by Edmunson (pp. 80-89)
    • “Plan B: Skip College” by Steinberg (pp. 91-94)
    • “What’s the Purpose of College: A Job or an Education?” by Selingo (pp. 95-97)
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