College Classes

photo 11Though O-week is winding down, there’s still a fair deal of excitement here–classes started yesterday, and if my conversations with other freshmen are any indication, this is what most of us have been eagerly awaiting. It’s the moment of truth: will our worst fears be confirmed or dispelled? Will the professors be stuffy and pretentious? Will I be able to keep up? Read on to hear me shed some light on the (well, my)  academic situation at present.

I’ll start off with a disclaimer: everybody’s experience is different, so obviously what’s true for me could be vastly untrue for someone else. So with that in mind, here we go.

No 8:00 AM classes for this girl! My earliest starts at 9:05 (only marginally better than 8:00), and my latest is at 11:15. I’m done for the day at 11:00 once, 12:05 twice, and 2:40 twice. I have to say that the flexible schedule is really, really nice. There’s so much time to either sleep in, grab a leisurely dining hall meal, work on things in the library, or just sit out on the Arts Quad alone, enjoying solitude and good weather. While I can’t complain much about my high school schedule last year, this is already a huge improvement.

One of my professors is a grad student, one is a phD candidate, and the other two are lecturers; despite the disparity in experience, I feel confident that each one knows what they’re doing and I’m looking forward to getting to know them. None are particularly scary or uptight, as I feared they might be–in fact, most seem extremely welcoming. Even the professors I spoke with at the academic open house were all very warm and approachable, which makes me feel much better about coming here. I’d feared that I’d be behind my classmates, but I think putting in a lot of work and demonstrating to the professor that you’re genuinely trying can do a lot to close any preconceived gap. And I’m ready to work hard! I’m more enthusiastic about my classes than I’ve ever been about anything academic; I just hope I can preserve this energy, especially in the dead of winter.

A few things I’d heard about college classes are not necessarily true in my case, though. For instance, while I’ve heard nobody takes attendance in college, all but one of my professors have set a cap on unexcused absences. This means I can skip class if I really want to, but I’ll eventually be docked points for it. I was also surprised to learn that most professors are anti-laptop. It works out better for me because I prefer taking notes by hand, but I’d assumed that most universities embrace the proliferation of technology. Again, maybe it’s just the classes I’m taking. After all, I’m mostly enrolled in humanities classes…

My two English department classes are centered on writing papers and the others give prelims (tests) and a final. I’m excited to be writing so many papers, especially because a professor told me earlier this week that our main focus should be on improving our writing as much as possible. All of the classes are very intellectually stimulating and while two of them will help me fulfill college requirements, two will teach me to read closely and write strong literary analysis (what I really want to achieve this year). I think I’m starting off on a good foot–hopefully not overwhelming myself–and with any luck, I’ll be better equipped to take higher-level classes by the end of the year. One thing I can confirm about college courses is the amount of reading: it’s a lot. And I somehow got the better deal, because I have friends who have twice as much material to read as I do. It’s all case specific, but there will be a lot of text to take in. Still, better than busy work, if you ask me.

More on living in dorms and eating in dining halls later, but for now, I’ll be focusing on surviving my first week of college.

~Natalie

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