What First Years Might Not Know & What To Do About It

College Hall sign

[This is a guest post (actually, a collated series of tweets, by Anne Trubek. Trubek is Director of Belt Publishing and author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting--and, to her points below, a former associate professor at Oberlin College.]

Teaching first-years today? Here are some things my son, starting college today, was never taught:

  1. How to address professors–Dr., Mr, Mrs., Miss, Ms., first name. Don’t get huffy if your students don’t know either. Teach them.
  2. How to ‘read’ a syllabus–how to understand when reading is expected to have been done, etc. Explain.
  3. What office hours are, why professors have them, when and how to contact professors. His high school texted him reminders of homework.
  4. How to format papers. It’s not something you are born with knowing, the margins and title case and all. Teach ‘em. Also, about staplers.
  5. How to find books in the library.
  6. That you are supposed to buy all your books at the beginning of the semester.
  7. What a database & valid research materials are, according to you. (According to his high school it’s a weird jumble of crap that makes no sense.)
  8. How to take notes. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. No one teaches kids how to take notes. The tool is not the issue, whether keyboard or pen.
  9. They are trained not to use phones or keyboards in class, & to do lots of work on pen & paper. This is silly. Let them know if you agree.
  10. I could go on. But if a student does something that annoys, ask: how should she have known otherwise? Who would have taught? Then teach.

Bonus 11th item: One more thing: Your assumptions about their writing? Probably wrong. Here’s what research shows:

Have other things first-years might not know? Share ‘em in comments!

Photo “College Hall (at Smith College)” by Flickr user Nic McPhee / Creative Commons licensed BY-SA-2.0

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