December 07, 2007

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.


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.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love when you post these. PPB

Linda said...

I don't think I really want to know, but I am curious what precipitated learning "never pet a burning dog."

These are great, as usual!

Sandie said...

Well, I learned how to do the Soulja Boy Dance this semester, too :)

Great list.

Kathryn said...

I love these jo(e) - thanks for posting a new crop :-)

Cathy said...

these are priceless! I hope you have kept a collection of these - you could make it into a book.

Busymomma66 said...

These are great. A lot of good advice.

My son appreciated "Not to piss off my roommate when he's playing Halo." He says it applies to friends as well.

Nadine said...

I'm pretty sure I learned some of these things my first semester at college. Fun times.

What Now? said...

I'd call that a semester well spent at college!

Seeking Solace said...

Awesome, although I am concerned about the burning dog.

I think I will try this activity with my freshman next semester.

jo(e) said...

"Never Pet a Burning Dog" is the name of a CD. So it's a musical reference.

Or at least, that's what my students told me.

PK said...

Thanks for reminding me that friends are absolutely... positively... incredible! In good times and in bad!

Magpie said...

I love this list.

And, Paul Farmer is cool.

codfish said...

This list made me laugh. Thanks, jo(e)! :-)

la rebelde said...

this is the best thing i've read about the end of the semester this year! thanks!

zhoen said...

Many good lessons learned.

I love the one about the not 24 hour grocery store.

Yankee T said...

Most excellent. Time well spent for all, I'd say.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Other than the Halo (and a couple others), things sound about the same as when I started college, many many many years ago. Fun.

I wonder what would happen if you asked one class to write three things they learned. If that would change the way they thought about it.

Alcohol does get boring and you sure do learn a lot about plants in small green college.

I'm worried about the burning dog though.

purpleteardropsofhappilymarriedness said...

Wow, these are quite amusing, I wish I could remember all the ones from my class, including mine. But I totally agree with "Chemisty sucks ten times worse in college than it did in high school." I learned that my fourth semester of college. If it wasn't for "Chemistry Professor that Actually Teaches Students" I wouldn't of passed that hellish course.

julieunplugged said...

What a great idea! I'm going to steal it. :) What makes this list so great is the concrete nature of what was learned. I also love that the "learning" varied from life and relationship skills to academics to knowing self better to the purely silly (yet valued nonetheless).