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In your junior and senior years in High School, you take your SATS and prepare and send out your college applications. You think of alternative schools and ways of bettering your education just in case you don’t get accepted into your first choice or at all. You fill out the necessary paperwork to apply for any and all financial aid you may qualify for. You scope out your neighborhood in search of the best summer job, to help get you started for your first year away from home. Then you map out your summer vacation and hope to see everyone before you leave and become glad you will not see some people for a couple of months once college starts. For the next three months after you graduate, you and your parents, and sometimes your friends try to remind how you will be going away, or if not going too far, how you will now enter another phase in your life. You look at it from a whole different perspective and think how grand life will be away from home in your new room. Or you think how grand life will be just going away for a couple of hours a day and meeting new people outside high school, as you commute. You know exactly how much fun college will be and anticipate meeting new people or just being reunited with friends and enemies you already know who will be accompanying you the following semester. Well the summer is over and you are all packed and ready to go. You even read over the break enhancing your skills and aquiring new ones you may not have had in high school. You arrive at campus move in and get a copy of your schedule. Or you attend the college wide orientation see some new faces and get a copy of your new schedule. Your parents help you at the bookstore or you go at it alone, grunting at the costs and loading the pounds of knowledge in your car. You take your books back to your residence, browse through them and hem and horn about how the workload is going to suck. Or you just leave your books in the
car and remind yourself class hasn’t started yet and therefore you have no ideal what you should read. Now its time for classes to start, you get up bright and early for you pick all morning classes so to give you the rest of the day to do whatever. Or you turn over in your sleep because you still got a couple of hours or minutes till you have to go to class and or to work. Either way it’s the first day of classes and the first day of your college experience. Whatever the time of day is, you venture off to class and sit in your semiassigned seat and wait for the professor to enter and anticipate the load of class work or the intro class where the professor hands out the syllabus and tells you see you tomorrow or the day after. Well the professor enters and he or she meets or exceeds what you expected they would look like. Now the professor introduces him/herself and proceeds to pass out the syllabus. You all go over it and discuss the book and talk about what’s to be expected this semester. The professor ensures they will be available for your needs and then as you think class will end, he/she says now lets have you introduce yourselves. You have to stand up in front of everyone and give a little introduction of yourself to mostly all strangers: where you’re from, major, and what you expect out of college. You are somewhat mortified. You never had to speak in front of a group of people and once you complete your speech that you may or may not have fumbled through, you sit down in relief that you will not have to do that again. Or do you. The next class seems like you will be busy taking notes and listening, you hope, but oh no, the professor turns his/her attention to the class and asks a question, hoping to get a brave soul to participate. Yes Participation is what we are talking about. No one answers or raises their hands with excitement to answer the question. So the professor talks through the question hoping that next time someone will answer. But there isn’t a next time, not with this class and the professor wonders if the students read the syllabus at all because class participation will be 10-20 percent of their final grade.
The professor then tries to make questions Yes or No in hopes to atleast get some head nods and shakes in agreeance. It’s their job to break the high schooler and mold the college grad. Well you didn’t think you had to speak in class, that’s what the professors are paid to do. You are there to learn and write papers, and take tests, and hand them in and leave. No one said you had to become a willing participant in your own education. So why all the questions and why does the professor embarrasses him/herself always waiting for a response. You just want to come to class and get your assignments and leave. I mean why should you have to pay thousands and have to participate and learn anything outside of what’s being taught…what’s wrong with these people. Nothing is wrong, but maybe you should ask yourself this question: Are you afraid that people will listen to you or are you afraid that they will finally listen to you? You are now being told by the professor and all of the new adults around you that you are now an adult and that your college education is your own responsibility and that mom and dad cannot help you get the grades you need, unless you wish to get kicked out for plagiarism. What’s up with that, you plagiarized your whole way through high school and no one had a problem then. So now adulthood is being thrust upon you and now it’s your responsibility to speak up and be heard and get good grades and become a contributing adult to the society and the workforce. You still take your laundry home for your mother to do and join them for lunch and dinner on occasion. Mommy Daddy Help!! No one but you, can help you, and no one in those three months prior to classes starting, did anyone give you the guidelines to becoming a college adult. You thought it would be note taking and keg parties for the next four years. Now you learn that eventually you will have to give speeches, participate in class, do internships and work for free, budget your money so you don’t starve and even have to stay in at night to study for tests that only come once or twice a semester. No one told you this. Where can you go for this information? Didn’t the professor say in that mortifying first day that he/she was available? You can go and talk to them. But you
can’t really go and whine and complain, you’re supposed to be an adult. But you can go and ask for assistance in bettering your grades, and hope the professor isn’t a jerk and lends a helping hand as well as a sympathetic ear. You go and speak to them and the first thing they say is, you could participate more in class, it will help your grade in the end. You scream in your head, how can I undo years of bashfulness. My classmates will stare at me and snicker and think I’m a geek and a nerd for raising my hand and speaking up like the teacher’s pet. Or on the other end, your classmates will admire you for doing something they wished they could do. So you bravely ask the professor how you can improve upon participating and speaking up in class. He/she looks at you with a smile and realizes that their students aren’t idiots; they are just scared to speak up in front of their peers. The professor tells them that they will soon have to take a public speaking course, based on their major, soon, and let them know that speaking in front of an audience is a skill that he/she will have or not have to do one day for their job, and that the best place to learn is in class. You then remind your communication student that there are resources on the web and in the library and bookstore on how to speak in front of an audience. You as the communication student, then feel a little silly that you picked a major that would require you to communicate. You leave the professor’s office with some hope and begin your library search for great speeches and soon learn that great speakers are sometimes nervous and that there are techniques for getting up in front of people. But you think to yourself, my class is only 20 students. 20 students is still an audience. So you practice in the mirror, as your roommate looks in horror, how you will answer a question and realize you don’t look as crazy as you thought. The next day in class you know you will raise your hand, but the professor called out sick, and you were prepared and ready to go. And the class after that you had a test. Now you think will you ever get your chance to shine and make your professor proud, you mean yourself proud. Yes you will, because the next class is nothing shy of the professor asking a load of questions, some yes/no and some looking for in-depth answers. You read the materials and even had some life experiences that have prepared you for this question of all questions. But the professor doesn’t call on
you, at all, even though your hand was raised. Was it not raised high enough, what went wrong? The class progressives and you can see the look of contentment on the professors face, you proceed to take notes and ponder what or what didn’t occur, but then the professor turns to you and says, so what do you think student 15. You are once again mortified and are taking off guard. You have no ideal what the professor is talking about, for you were busy taking notes and wondering why the professor didn’t call on you. So you calmly ask the professor to repeat the question and explain you were taking notes and didn’t hear them. You hear some snickering but rest assured it’s because you are sincere in your answer. The professor nods, repeats the question and you ponder for a second and proudly and boldly give your final answer. Knowing you wowed the class and wanting to keep up their praise you continue to speak, only to have the professor interject and tell you thank you for your in-depth analysis, as riveting and ground breaking that it was. You sneak a peak at the rest of the class, from your back row seat, and they affectionately whisper how great you were and even applause starts and you thank them for listening and that their silence was your inspiration. But you soon turn your attention to the slides on the wall and notice that the accolades were all in your head and that class is continuing whether you are down from the clouds or not. After class, the professor stops you and asks snidely; see that wasn’t so bad after all, was it. The bubbly feeling you have forces a quick response, nope it wasn’t. As you walk down the hall with your designer book bag and nearly no books in it, but your decorated notebook, you think maybe just maybe, college isn’t so bad after all and you will make it, and become the adult your parents are so paying for you to become. You then go to your next class and take that proud stance with you, and even take someone’s seat a row from the front of class; you aren’t that brave yet. You give an opinion or two and once again earn some respect from your professor that you lost the first 10 weeks of the semester for keeping your mouth shut. You know you won’t get your whole 10-20 percent for class participation, but at least now you know you can do it. And for being a communication major, which will someday have to communicate to the world, via in writing, speech, or other form of media, you are well
on your way to mastering it or just coming close enough to get by. Your grades improve for the proud new feeling of being a student of learning and not just being taught, you prepare yourself for assignments and even study for test. You ask your professors for help and even confer with your classmates and some new friends. Your feeling of being an adult soon rises to the surface, and you become aware that the high schooler has finally been put to rest and before the world finally stands a college adult. Success can be yours!
This was a message to all you college adult females out there, too afraid to participate in class. Don’t worry, if you’re in college and the men are too, they will like you for your mind as well as your looks. We are all here to learn.