First year experience class needs major reform
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 18:02
The university offers so many resources to its students including a diverse array of clubs, classes and activities. Given the increasingly large number of students on campus, all with different interests and opinions, it is almost impossible not to find your place. But when a student gets pigeonholed in a small community, say, a First Year Experience class, it is crucial the pigeonhole is an adequate representation of the school as a whole, not just a small faction of it.
Shortly after enrolling in the university, I received a letter urging me to read a book on the history behind the HeLa cell, a cell type used for cancer treatment research. I was to read the books so I would have a foundation for conversation in my FYE class.
I am an avid book and science lover so I was excited to be in a class that discussed both of these topics for almost an hour. You can only imagine my disappointment when I realized none of my classmates read the book.
Then, you can further imagine my disappointment when I realized some of my classmates had never read any books. When we discussed study habits my classmates treated me like an alien for studying more than one hour a day. I soon began to feel like no one in the whole state of Delaware studied like I did or took their education seriously. I thought I made a mistake even applying here. I felt lost in a small class that was supposed to teach me how to find myself in a large school.
While this was happening I began having trouble with my living situation on campus. Unfortunately, word began to travel about the issues I was having and during my next FYE class the exaggerated details of my situation were shared and dissected by not only my classmates, but my instructor as well. They did not know the girl in their crazy story was sitting in class with them. Instead of working together to understand and suggest ways around this problem, my difficult situation was made out to be a fable featuring fantasized and one-dimensional characters. The whole discussion became a joke instead of an exercise in problem solving.
Needless to say, this class did not become a small community for me. It did not help me become a successful adult, and it certainly did not prepare me for everything this university has to offer. The class made me feel like caring about school made me unusual somehow. I could not contribute anything my classmates felt was meaningful or important because our priorities were so different. Mostly though, I was disappointed in myself because I could not find one person in 30 that understood my thoughts and opinions. Logic dictates that a sample that small of a school so large might not be accurate, but when you are in that class of 30 it is really difficult to think logically.
Out of fear of rejection, I began to withdraw from people in my other classes as well. But overtime I learned that there are people at this university who share my values and ideals. I realized the university had so much more to offer its students than what was what presented to us in FYE and I was in fact an avid lover of my school as well. However I should not have had to make that realization in spite of my FYE class, but rather in conjunction to it.
In theory, the FYE class is an excellent idea. It’s a class that teaches you how to be a well-rounded college student, but a class that touches upon even the most personal aspects of college needs to have at least an adequate amount of like-minded people to foster the small community it desires. Different perspectives are obviously important, but having the minority opinion in a large loud group makes it easy to feel isolated.
This is why I propose a change to the FYE system. Maybe students could take a personality test similar to the roommate assessment to assure there would be a sufficient amount of common and differing opinions. This would help guarantee a positive experience and a way to actually build relationships instead of putting up barriers to them. Volunteering opinions would be easier and would also guarantee a more diverse opinion pool. Placing students together with similar class schedules would be beneficial to the student bonding, a crucial element in creating a subset community.
While most students just found FYE to be a big waste of time, often assigning inappropriate meaning to the FYE acronym, I found it to be eye opening in a way I had not expected. It portrayed the university in a light completely different than I had ever seen it before. To me, a very shy reserved student, it made my school seem scary and uninviting. But looking back, while I’m grateful UD can be so many things to so many different people, I cannot believe I allowed that one class to totally color my first impressions of an entire university.