Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dr. Amelia smells fresh meat

Orientation ruins students

Quite a bit happens to my merry band of freshpersons prior to their arrival in my classroom. They say buh bye to their high school friends, siblings and pets (for many the pet seems to be the most missed, but perhaps that is another post). They shove their gaming consoles, new sheet and towels and shower shoes in the car and ease on down the road to the university.

They move in. Mom cries. Then, they get wrecked.

Freshperson orientation seems to consist of

1. Playing stupid ice breaker games with a group of 19 other newly liberated souls.

2. Learning who the kid who has the best fake ID to go to the local libation dealer and bring back social lubrication so that the newly liberated can practice their liberty through secret intoxication.

3. Hearing important tips from the upper-classperson orientation leaders such as
*That required freshperson class is the easiest A you'll have in college
*Don't worry if you didn't do the common reading. Proffies never ask about it.
*Frat row has the best parties with free beer for girls
*Proffies don't care if you book your trips over university holidays with just a couple of extra days on each end.
*Don't let the RAs catch you drinking. But everybody drinks. All the tea-partying time.

4. They confusedly buy their textbooks. Our bookstore (a Silos and Peasants branch) has now stopped carrying textbooks in the store. You have to go in and order them and come back another day after they have paged them from the warehouse. So you can't look for used books with the kind of notes/highlights that might actually help you.

There's a big freshperson gathering where they mill around on the sportsball field holding those candles with the paper bibs on the bottom while not hearing some guy on a stage talking about integrity or morality or tradition or something. They show in my class the next day. with the idea that college is a party (I had a student describe it as being like summer camp), professors are pushovers and as long as you show up (most of the time) you should be just fine.


  1. #2 invalidates the need for #1.

  2. And sadly, somewhere around #2 and #3 (or perhaps after the sportsball-field gathering, or even a week or two into classes) statistics suggest that a few of them, particularly if they are female, will be raped (or will have a sexual experience that is unwelcome, unsatisfactory, and/or seriously unsettling for at least one of the participants, but which none of the participants may remember well enough for it to be clearly classified). The effects on their academic performance will be less clear than some of the stuff in #s 3 and 4, but nevertheless negative, sometimes profoundly so.

  3. I sure miss the days of browsing a genuine campus bookstore to determine which classes seemed the most interesting ones to sign up for in the next term.

  4. Students nowadays can schedule their classes and labs online, ahead of time. 25 years ago the only important must-not-miss activity of the week-long frosh week (the rest was a shitload of what Amelia mentioned above, as at the time in our jurisdiction of Canuckistan about two-thirds of the incoming frosh were legally able to purchase alcohol; I believe that number is now 0%) was the day we presented our list of courses we wished to take, written on a slip of paper, and handed in to the registrar's office, temporarily set up on the rugby field with row upon row of admin assistants seated at tables, dutifully putting a stamp like "PHIL 101" onto the various one-hour slots of a Monday-to-Friday calendar. The result, as various course sections were filled in, was a class schedule that had everything to do with simply getting you into the courses you wanted and nothing to do with being convenient for you (which was/is fine by me). For me personally this meant my Tuesdays for the entire 1st year had classes and labs from 8.30 in the morning to 9.30 at night, interrupted only by a 5.30-6.30 slot where I ate dinner; I had to request a bag lunch the night before at the cafeteria, which I would try to eat in a class while taking notes at the same time. This also meant my Fridays consisted of a single class at 11.30, which meant that I could rock it hard on Thursday nights; to this day no one has given me a convincing explanation of why Thursday was the big night for massive partying... why not Friday or Saturday nights? It made no sense to me, but I went with the flow...

    Anyhoo, the end result of this week-long bacchanalian fest was that the 1st week of class we all came down with the flu, or similar ailment. I can recall during the 2nd or 3rd lecture the chemistry professor stopping mid-sentence and bellowing with rage "Why the bloody hell is everyone coughing?!? I can't hear myself talk!"

  5. They had a freshman orientation for my Masters of Hamster Communication program and they did the dumb thing where they break us out into groups with a senior in our program. I was in a group with 35-45 year olds. When this youngster started saying the things that he wanted us to do one of the older gentlemen said

    "Listen, sport. I like you. I think we all do. But if you try to get us to do literally any of what you just said, we will kill you."

  6. I sometimes lament that I teach at a CC where so many of my students are unprepared, or have chaotic lives that keep them from completing coursework (or courses), or spread kooky conspiracy theories in class (happens all the time), or that they're in school for a condition of their parole ... and then I read one of these posts and realize that while the circumstances are different, the challenge remains essentially the same. All students create their own distractions and dramas -- whether they're newly minted high school alumni or freshpersons with lifetimes behind them. And none of them, no matter where they're enrolled, think that they need to earn their grades.

    1. Conspiracy theories are ubiquitous. I've lost track of the number of students who have come up to me after class and said "It's been going around the class that you intend to [something something] for the next test/exam. Is this true?! That doesn't seem fair." I can only think that out of a class of 300-500 students there's at least one shithead who starts rumours just to be an asshole, because I can't think of another reason why these sometimes-completely-outrageous rumours got started in the first place, always with the story element of me having confided some critically important piece of information to a student that I didn't share with the rest of the class.


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