Short Stories About College

Here are some short stories set in the world of academe. They feature college or university students and professors. Usually, at least part of the action will be set on campus.

Academic Short Fiction

The Whore’s Child | Richard Russo

The narrator is the professor of a university fiction writing class. An elderly nun who lives nearby, Sister Ursula, shows up in class although she has neither registered nor completed the prerequisite courses. She writes her memoir, beginning with her childhood in a Belgian convent. Her mother was a prostitute, so she becomes known as the whore’s child and is mistreated due to her low social status.

Read “The Whore’s Child”

Of This Time, Of That Place | Lionel Trilling

Joseph Howe is an English instructor at Dwight College. One of his students, Ferdinand Tertan, is intelligent but mentally erratic. Howe, who is also a poet, is attacked in a literary journal as an irresponsible writer.

The Banks of the Vistula | Rebecca Lee

The narrator has been in college for three weeks. She has been called to see her Linguistics professor. She plagiarized her first paper and assumes that is the reason for the summons. Her thinks her paper reads like Soviet propaganda – an important subject for him.

Read “The Banks of the Vistula”

Strip Battleship | Amy Knox Brown

Michael goes to Miller’s store to buy a wedding present for his pledge father, Tom. Tom’s fiance, Ann, works there, but it is her day off. It turns out Ann is filling in for someone. It is revealed that Michael has been snubbed by Tom – he and his fraternity brothers have gone to a stag party in Kansas City. Michael thinks about what might have happened between them. He and Ann make plans to get a drink.

University Days | James Thurber

Thurber relates the unusual experiences he had in university, starting with Botany class. He was unable to see thru a microscope, which enraged his professor. He continues with an athlete’s difficulties in economics and his troubles in gym.

Read “University Days”

Strawberry Spring | Stephen King

The narrator sees the name Springheel Jack in the newspaper. It reminds him of his time eight years ago at New Sharon Teachers’ College when a female student was found murdered in a campus parking lot.

Read “Strawberry Spring”

In the Garden of the North American Martyrs | Tobias Wolff

Mary, a history professor of fifteen years, loses her job when her college closes. She gets an offer from a former colleague, Louise, to interview at a college in New York. Mary accepts the offer, but finds Louise’s behavior to be unprofessional.

A Gentleman’s C | Padgett Powell

An English professor’s father is enrolled in his class. He feels his father had been hard on him so he returns the favor by giving him a C.

Read “A Gentleman’s C”