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Common Reading 2020: Marcia Cantarella

"Curiosity Killed the Cat...How Inquiry Makes for a Personal and Successful College Career"

So remember the full expression is “curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back.” Use your interest and curiosity to be a success in college and beyond. 

—Marcia Cantarella


Answer to the Picture Riddle Challenge: Cats Pushing Button!

Author: Marcia Cantarella

Spring Benefit Honoree Spotlight: Marcia Cantarella, Ph.D — Read ...


Marcia Cantarella, PhD is the author of I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide ( which educators, parents and students say is a goldmine of information and strategies. A former college dean, she now consults and speaks to students and programs regarding the challenges around college success and graduation. 

Introduction: Christian Reifsteck

Christian Reifsteck – Susquehanna University

Christian Reifsteck is the Assistant Director of Career Development, teaches Professional Development and Career Readiness, serves as a Koru mindfulness instructor, and advises the Karaoke Klub. He earned his Master of Arts in English from the University of Vermont, where his head really did hurt from thinking so hard. He is inspired daily by SU students and loves meeting with them in the Career Development Center to learn about their career interests. 

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. How many questions do you tend to ask teachers during a class? Are you quiet or outspoken?

2. What plan do you have in place for being successful in college? What resources will you take advantage of if you start to have problems?

Classroom Activities

1. Go through your syllabi and write one question that you can ask each professor during your next class.

2. Turn to your neighbor and ask them three things about themselves (ex. how do you take your coffee? What's your favorite type of dog?)


I want to tell you a secret. It’s a secret that took me many years and classes to figure out, hundreds of pages of writing, challenging discourse, exams, and thinking so hard that my head hurt: The point of a liberal arts education is to increase your critical thinking skills. The deeper you can think critically on a range of topics, see issues from multiple perspectives, dig below the surface level, and assess and analyze information, the better equipped you will be to succeed on both a personal and professional level.

At the center of increasing critical thinking is curiosity, and in “Curiosity Killed the Cat,” Dr. Marcia Cantarella encourages us to be curious. As a higher education administrator, author, and expert on student achievement, her years of experience and thinking so hard her head hurt have led her to conclude that college success depends upon curiosity. It’s curiosity that drives us to ask questions, get answers, and grow. Without questions, we can’t find new information. Without new information, we can’t develop as college students. Without critical thinking and the curiosity at its heart, Cantarella reminds us that we also can’t develop as employees. Critical thinking is one of the eight skills employers desire from employees. If you’re curious about the other seven, visit the Career Development Center. 

In an intellectual community, curiosity is embraced and expected.  So what questions will you ask?  How will you make your head hurt? 

Christian Reifsteck

Additional Resources

Center for Academic Success

  • Free tutoring services
  • One on one meetings to assess and build on strengths
  • Focus on time management and other academic skills
  • Disability Services

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