I appreciate that, as a freshman, no matter how mature I think I am, I am most likely wrong. That’s fine; I accept that, but only on a few terms. I am not in high school anymore, although I remember resenting every bit of coddling someone tried to throw at me there, and I feel that, while I’m in college, I ought to be treated like an adult.
Let me clarify. When I say “treated like an adult,” I mean held accountable for my own actions. I am 18 after all – as young as that may be in the grand scale of things – but it’s good enough to pay taxes and go to war. I may be irresponsible or unlearned in the ways of the world – or whatever else it is that my grandparents are telling me when I’ve tuned them out – but legally, I am an adult. So, can’t my problems be my problems yet?
Here’s my point. Tuesday, I had three classes, all of which were the first meetings of those classes, and I heard the same speech all three times. Come to class. Don’t cheat. Soon after this advice, though, comes the bits about how office hours really make a difference, how Campus Learning Assistance Services is a great resource, how you should actually do the readings and go to discussion or fail, etc, etc.
I can be put on trial as a full adult. Why then is it not my own problem and responsibility whether or not I fail the class due to my own ineptitude? Maybe I don’t want to take notes. Maybe I want to sleep in the front row, do Sudoku in lecture and basically just slack off. Maybe I want to waste your time and mine. Whatever I want to do, I’m the one with the investment in my own future here. In one discussion section, we had to make little folded-over paper nameplates. What’s next? Will I be graded on how good I am with glue? Because I passed that with flying colors back in kindergarten.
I appreciate teachers’ enthusiasm and desire for us to do well in a class – I really do like hearing what they think we ought to do to do well, but not if it is instructions like do the assignments and come to class. I got into this university, I must be decently smart, so hopefully I’ve either figured out that I have to do work by now or figured out a way around it without all the nasty little repercussions of failing.
In any case, spare me the admonitions, forewarnings, recommendations and prescriptions. I am fully aware that I don’t know everything, but I’m more worried about mastering biopsychology than I am about whether or not I ought to use flash cards or color-code my notes. I may be an angst-ridden freshman getting all riled up about some well-meaning educators going a bit overboard, but if you can ask me to do differential equations before noon, have faith that I know what I’m doing when I ditch class.
Heather Cohen is an undeclared freshman.