Monday, September 7, 2009

Advice for Freshmen

The New York Times has a series of articles written by professors who "have been there awhile," offering advice to those who have just started college. They all offer some excellent advice. Here are a few of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from these articles:
  • "take a composition course...if you can't [write] you can't do anything." -Stanley Fish
  • "What the most successful college students do, in my experience, is cut through the clutter of jargons, methods and ideological differences to locate the common practices of argument and analysis hidden behind it all. " -Gerald Graff
  • "More than ever in this time of economic troubles and societal change, entering upon an undergraduate education should be a voyage away from visual overstimulation into deep, sustained reading of what is most worth absorbing and understanding: the books that survive all ideological fashions." -Harold Bloom
  • "Do ask questions if you don’t understand the professor’s point. Do not, however, ask any of the following: 'Will this be on the test?' 'Does grammar count?' 'Do we have to read the whole chapter?' 'Can I turn in my paper late?'" -Carol Berkin
  • "Learn to write well." -Gary Wills
  • "It’s easy to think that college classes are mainly about preparing you for a job. But remember: this may be the one time in your life when you have a chance to think about the whole of your life, not just your job." -Martha Nussbaum
  • "Try to read a good newspaper every day — at bedtime or at breakfast or when you take a break in the afternoon.... A great newspaper will help you in the classroom — and it will be your conduit to the real world outside the classroom. Become addicted." -James MacGregor Burns
  • "Fall in love! Not with that attractive person sitting three rows in front of you in calculus class, but with an intellectual vision of the future you probably can’t even imagine at the moment. " -Nancy Hopkins
  • "The first thing freshmen should know is that college is never what one expects. " -Steven Weinberg

1 comment:

Jake said...

This is all good advice, but I wonder how many students read the New York Times anymore. The most important thing on that list is the first item. Writing is the key to success. It doesn't matter if you write for a living or not, but if you can't communicate your thoughts, it will reflect negatively on you for the rest of your life.