My Freshman Year (Last Part) [Jeremy]

Chapter 6: The Art of College Management

            Ms. Nathan begins this chapter by reminding her readers that when analyzing both the college scene and the students who make up the landscape, that they must keep two things in mind: first, some of the characteristics seen on college campuses and in their students are centuries old; and second, not all college students buy into the standard of the day. In fact, American colleges have a culture that is “neither singular nor monolithic” (p. 107), and like that of any other culture, they are made up of alternative, counter, and subcultures. The next section will uncover four differing cultures that make up American college campuses today. A brief examination of some of the characteristics of said cultures will be discussed, and how one might recognize these on our campuses today. The categorization of cultures is neither precise nor meant to lump particular groups into respective camps. Although Ms. Nathan has placed certain groups into a particular cultural model, this does not mean that each group agrees with or adheres to all of the categories values.

“Classic” American College Culture

-Developed in the 18th century

-Rose out of Elite Male Experiences

-Relationships with peers was more important that relationships with professors

-Fraternities & Sports Clubs:

-Exclusivity

-Hedonism

-Adolescent Rebellion

-Success is measured by peers

 

How can we recognize this culture on today’s campus?

-Resistance to speaking in class

-Social distance from faculty

-Code of Honor (silence about cheating)

-The “real college experience”

-Emphasis on fun, sex, and alcohol

Alternative Models of College Culture

The “Outsiders”

 

The Outsiders included “Jews, women, and later, people of color and immigrants” (p. 108).

-Students from poor backgrounds

-Were known to work harder than other groups of students

-Often did not participate in sports or other types of clubs

-School was a valued opportunity and a gateway for their future professions

-Valued intellectual discourse, and worked hard for their grades

-Cultivated close relationships with faculty

 

How can we recognize this culture on today’s campus?

-International students

-Disadvantaged students:

-Women

-Minority students

-Evangelical Christians

 

The “Rebels”

This alternative culture became a force on American campuses during the 1960s and 1970s and continues to be visible on campuses today.

-Rejected traditional beliefs

-Repudiated authority

-Renounced “classic” college life

-More concerned by a cause then with grades

-Protesting was valued

 

How can we recognize this culture on today’s campus?

-With groups that seek to enliven political discourse on the campus

-Environmentalists

-Feminists

The “New Outsiders”

-Practical & Careerist Approach to Education

-Not interested in extra-curricular activities

-Grades are very important

-Professional clubs that can bolster a resume are often attended (time permitting)

-The degree is a ticket to a better job. *This is more important than a better mind

-Surface relationships with professors

 

How can we recognize this culture on today’s campus?

-Adult learners

 

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is it important for educational leaders to understand the differing cultures on a campus?

2.  Did you find yourself in one of the aforementioned groups?  If so, which one, and why do you think you placed yourself in that group?

 

From Time Management to College Management

Professor Nathan spoke about the many time management workshops that she attended during her first days as a student that encouraged students to keep a daily planner, not to waste precious time on leisurely activities, and to quit their jobs. However, she found that the key to time management was in essence the ability to manage college. This included shaping schedules, taming professors, limiting their workload, and cheating.

Shaping schedules is the ability to choose the days and times one takes their classes, with whom they choose to take the class (with a difficult teacher or an easy teacher), and the ability of skillfully registering for classes that will give them more personal time.

Taming professors is the ability to “get what you want from classes by establishing and using a personal relationship with your teachers” (p. 117). This can be done by befriending the professor, sitting in the right place in the classroom, or staying after class to talk with him or her about their weekend.

Limiting Workload can simply be defined as doing what’s necessary to pass or “strategic corner-cutting” (p. 122). It is the amount of time and effort a student is willing to put into a particular class.  Some students will ditch a class because they need that extra period of time for themselves.  As long as they are passing the class, the students see nothing wrong with missing.  If students perceived that they were not going to get anything out of a class period, they would ditch that class. Students normally start out reading every assignment, but then as they realize that this is not necessary, and because they want to spend more time on themselves, they do only what is necessary.

Cheating is another way that students attempt to control their time by controlling their college. While “90 percent of college students reported seeing another student cheat in the previous year; the national average was 80 percent” (p. 125).

 

Discussion Questions:

3.  What have you found to be the most effective method of time management?

4.  Have you ever attempted to manage your college with any of the aforementioned techniques? Explain.

 

Chapter 7: Lessons from My Year as a Freshman

The main lesson that Professor Nathan learned during her study was compassion. During her year, she was surprised to find that although she was an excellent student in many of her courses, there were others in which she struggled. Even after using the tutoring services, and spending many hours trying to figure out the content of these courses, she felt more and more frustrated and had the desire not to go to class. She also was able to see how time plays a very important role in student behavior. Before her study, she would be upset if a student did not show up to her class, did not do the pre-class readings, or if she found a student sleeping while she was lecturing, but now she understood the time constraints in which today’s students are dealing.

The second lesson she gained from her time as a student was that of student culture and liminality. Undergraduate culture “becomes this luminal communal space where students bond with one another, sometimes for life, and, amid rules of suspended normality and often hardship, explore their identities, wrestle with their parents’ world, and wonder about their future” (p. 147). Dr. Nathan found that during her year she made friends and connected with people in which, in normal life, she would have never had the chance to bond. It is through these experiences that the “the seeds of enormous creativity and … of wider social change” has the most potential (p. 147).

Discussion Questions:

5. Have you ever felt angry and/or frustrated with students who are continually tardy to class, do not do their homework, and/or sleep during your class?

6.  In our current areas of responsibility, how can we feel and demonstrate genuine compassion for our students or with those with whom we interact?

7. Have you ever had or observed a luminal experience?  Explain.

Afterword:  Ethics and Ethnography

Professor Nathan was very concerned with the potential of ethical dangers throughout her study on her own campus. She used a pseudonym (Dr. Rebekah Nathan) and a fake university name ‘Any-University’ (AnyU) as a way to protect the university, herself, and those in whom she was studying. She also purposed to keep her identity hidden from those in whom she studied if at all possible. However, on several occasions, she was forced to reveal her true identity as her friendships with other students progressed, and as particular situations developed. The write up was another challenge because she wanted to protect the participants, and did not want these individuals to later read her work and feel betrayed. A few months after her research was completed, one of her ‘friends’ saw her on campus, and through their conversation, the truth about her true identity was shared. The student was shocked and said, “I feel fooled!” The researcher felt bad but explained the situation to the student who was seemingly satisfied. However, Dr. Nathan knows that she will have other uncomfortable encounters with people she met during her year as a student, and hopes that they will understand the purpose of her study.

 

Discussion Question:

8. Do you think it was a good idea for Professor Nathan to disclose her true identity?

9.  What do you think about her doing the research on her own campus?

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