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.
How to balance doing work with having fun.
Not to piss off my roommate when he's playing Halo.
Snowstorm City is cold. And it snows a lot.
How to identify eastern hemlocks.
Styrofoam is the enemy.
More about plants than I ever expected.
With the right people, a loving family can be formed.
Halo is the backbone of an all-nighter.
No matter how hard I try, procrastinating is inevitable.
Chemisty sucks ten times worse in college than it did in high school.
Never pet a burning dog.
College is pretty hard.
Alcohol gets boring after a while.
I learned how to sleep until 3:30 pm on weekends and still get all my work done.
I learned how to mix food in the dining hall to make dining more fun.
Sledding in garbage cans hurts.
That I enjoy botany.
How to live with and work with an entire floor of people.
Invisible index cards become visible when you write on them.
That I need better study habits.
That anything you want is worth working for.
That friends are incredible.
That walking to the Big Grocery Store takes an hour. And it's not open 24 hours a day, like we thought.
Distance is a good thing, and I can survive on my own, without my parents.
Living in a learning community is pretty cool.
I learned that not everything is at it appears and that not all people practice what they preach.
I learned that a floor full of college students are capable of making a lot of noise at any hour of the day or night.
I learned that I do not enjoy derivatives or taking limits.
That cosmetics can kill you.
I learned that plants are too complex for me to understand.
I learned that engineering is not a career I want to pursue.
Paul Farmer fights infectious disease in Haiti.
I learned how to find the area covered by passing a particle through a vector field, and how to find the tendency of that particle to rotate.
It's important to zip the pocket that holds your keys before participating in a snowball fight.
All about the apical meristem.
I learned that science is not my thing.
How to do the Soulja Boy dance.