December 13, 2006

What I learned this semester

At the end of the fall semester, I ask my first year students to write on an index card one thing they learned their first semester in college. I tell them that they can include things they learned in the residence halls or from their friends or in any class. Then I shuffle the cards and read them aloud. Here's what they wrote this year.

No matter how early you wake up, you will never be awake enough for an 8 am Chemistry lab. This will result in spilled chemicals.

People aren't always what they seem in the beginning.

How to be more social while still working hard to do well in college.

Lewis Dot Structures.

To appreciate home-cooked food.

My town is really boring compared to college.

How to make pasta in a microwave.

That college students can be just as immature as high school students.

More than I ever thought I would know about falconry.

I've learned not to yell at boys in the girls' bathroom at 3 am because someone will write it up as a noise violation.

It's cold here.

It's almost impossible to maintain a healthy long-distance relationship.

Leftover food gets really smelly if you don't do something about it.

I write better than I thought. I learned to believe in myself.

Apples are pomes, olives are drupes, and carbon comes from animal poop.

I am not good at everything. COUGH*Chemistry*COUGH. But I am smart.

I learned the importance of friendship and the necessity to be socially involved.

I learned way too much about the way that trees work. Like the way that leaves fall off and how the water gets to every cell.

It's okay to be happy.

Hydrochloric acid can burn a hole in your shirt.

That I have to wake up earlier on weekends because the dining hall closes at 6:30 p.m.

I learned how to live with a bunch of girls and share a bathroom with all of them.

Good bagels are hard to find.

The TA can be the nicest person in the world, but when it comes to grading, you will hate him with all your passion.

Fall asleep in Calculus and the teacher will kick you.

Writing without structure is enough structure for me.

Plants have hormones that cause them to either lose their leaves/needles, hold onto their leaves/needles, and cause different growth patterns.

You actually need to study in college.

Put your garbage in the right container or people will get pissed.

The entire life cycle of a plant and any detail dealing with it. Honestly ....

No matter what the topic is, there will always be a difference of opinion in a group.

I learned how to design a cemetery.

Tolerance is the key to living with other humans.


Anonymous said...

When you did this last year, I made a note to myself to do this at the end of this semester. And I found that note after I taught my last class.

Chip said...

what a great idea!

Anonymous said...

I love the comment about the dining hall closing at 6:30. Yeah, you might need to reconsider that wake-up time!

Billie said...

It seems several of your students also have a chemistry class. What are the odds? Great idea, by the way.

RageyOne said...

Those are good! :) Thanks for sharing and I concur with the thougths about chemistry.

ppb said...

I love how beautiful this sounds.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. I'm going to use this next semester.

I'm also going to have my junior music majors write advice to my freshman majors. It should be humorous. :)

jo(e) said...

Billie: I teach at a specialized school. My students all take botany and chemistry, and in fact my writing course is integrated with those two courses.

Jen said...

My partner--who worked for three years as a Resident Director at a small college--says that yelling 'FIRE!' in a burning dorm could be considered a noise violation.

Anonymous said...

The one about hydrochloric acid made me laugh. Somewhere I have a picture of the jeans that I ruined spilling sulfuric acid on them my first semester of college. The holes it created would give my jeans designer status today.

Scrivener said...

I asked my students to write posts on their blogs describing what they'd learned this semester and got some really fantastic responses. I've done something similar the last few semesters, and have found it to be a really useful exercise for me too.

jo(e) said...

In addition to the one sentence index card thing, I do ask my students to write a full page reflective statement about what they learned about their writing process. I find those valuable feedback.

frog said...

These are great!

Sara said...

I love these (the one from last time around as well). First-year students have such a unique perspective, with so many of them being away from home for the first time. It really goes to disprove the whole All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten theory, huh? Here's to a lifetime of learning.

(un)relaxeddad said...

I think "Hydrochloric acid will burn a hole in your shirt" is probably my favourite. This semester, I learned being a parent, a postgraduate degree and a full-time job are combinable but not necessarily compatible elements.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Fun, poignant list! For some reason, it made me cry.

Kai said...

What a great idea! I loved what they came up with, especially the last one...we could all stand to learn that lesson a little more often.

Yankee, Transferred said...

I've said it before...I hope my kid has ONE instructor in college who is as cool as you.

Anonymous said...

That's great. Brings me right back to my college days.

Anonymous said...

These are great!

Anonymous said...

Awesome. My favourite,"I write better than I thought.I learned to believe in myself."

YourFireAnt said...

What I learned this year is that no matter how long you live you never get good at saying goodbye to loved ones.


Anonymous said...

Those are pretty good lessons to learn. I learned more about plants and trees in one post then all my years at college.

Anonymous said...

Chemistry is evidently evil, and many people know more about trees now. :)

Very entertaining. :)

Mona Buonanotte said...

I ADORE when you do this!

If I had to do one, it'd be:

That stomach flu you got three times last winter, when no one else in your family did, was not the flu, but food poisoning from bagged salads.

Sue said...

These are great. You're such an amazing prof!

Anonymous said...

These are wonderful. What a great idea.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome. I asked them to write down three ideas that they learned but I won't see evaluations until after I enter grades.

Southernmush said...

Hello...First let me wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I have to tell you that I enjoy reading your blog. I also wanted to tell you that those students you mentioned are very smart indeed. I'm sure that they will end up all graduating and changing the world in their own ways. Tell them to keep up the good work. I also wanted to say thanks for sharing your life. Take care.