Call For Comments: Back to School College Survival Tips

From Mav: It you’ve listened to the show, you’ve probably picked up that all four hosts (and many of the guests) are college teachers. Add onto that, that between the four of us, we’ve been in school of one kind or another for like 100 years. That means we’ve seen a lot of shit! Some of it good and some of it bad. And it also means that at this point we’re more or less experts on “how to survive college.”

Several years ago, my mom told me that she was going to have her cousin’s son (my second cousin? I dunno… I get really confused by all of that) call me to prepare for going away to college and to get any tips from me that I might have for surviving it. So when he called my first tip was something like “well, managing your time is super important.” He said “uh huh” and I said “for instance, you’ve got to figure out how much time you’re going to spend drinking or trying to get laid and still manage to get enough of your work done that they don’t kick you out.” He then tried to assure me “oh no, I’m not like that. I know that it’s all about working hard and…” I cut him off and said “look boy, they told you to call me! They knew what they were getting into. You’re going to school. Part of that is studying…. but the rest is parties, alcohol, weed, and fucking… you want to know how to get through it or not?” And that right there is the level of discourse that I want to bring to our show!

Ok, it’s not just extracurricular college chicanery I want to talk about. There’s academic stuff too. I sometimes complain about the crazy things my students do to try and “cheat” rather than doing their homework. Like watching the movie versions of books that I assign (not realizing that I’m a huge movie buff, and probably have seen it and am very well aware of the differences between the book and the movie… or otherwise I’d not have assigned it). I’ve had students willfully ignoring assignment instructions on papers. I’ve had students faking sources to be used as research (often in baffling ways that to me seem much more complex than just doing the assignment). I’ve had students ignoring their own data because they want to make some point that they believe because of their politics, religion or upbringing, even though their own words disprove what they’re saying. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve also heard horror stories from other teacher friends of mine about students trying to recycle lab reports from friends in previous classes to assignments that have changed and are no longer valid.

And then there’s the ACTUAL extracurricular stuff. This show is about popular culture and college is nothing if not an explosion of cultures and subcultures. A lot of people don’t think about it, but sports, clubs, politics, and even just social events are a huge part of the college experience. A lot of people (students and parents) seem to think of college as “13th grade,” a continuation of high school with the sole purpose of “get you ready to have a good job so that you can pay rent”. But it’s so much more. College is all about culture and life experience. How do you choose what you want to do with your time there?

So we want to talk about it all. What are your questions about college? If you know teens about to hit (or who have recently hit) college age, send them our way and have them ask us whatever they want to know. If you’re a current college student or recent graduate, what are some of the things you wish someone had told you before you went there? If you’re an instructor… or just spent a lot of time in college yourself… what are things you think incoming students should know? Give us your thoughts so we can use them on the show. And let us know if you want to be a part of the round table for this one. I think this one would be fun to have a few different viewpoints on.

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3 Replies to “Call For Comments: Back to School College Survival Tips”

  1. Once a student is out of the environment where everyone knows them, there is a lot of trying to identify who they really are, not who their high school friends and church family and pee wee soccer team know them as. Be who you are (or think you want to be). No one knows you yet so you can go for it. The quiet ones find a voice. The high school jocks realize it’s okay to play sports and knit.
    What I notice is students figuring out their identity. Not necessarily through experimenting (though there may be that) but more from not feeling like they have to hide it. It applies to hobbies, personas, gender, sexual preferences…

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