Thursday, June 11, 2009

What I Learned: Part 2

This blog post is the second in a series where I go through my college transcripts, class-by-class, to determine what exactly it was that I spent six years learning. Come with me on this magical journey that might lead me to the promised land of employment and the American dream! You can read the first part here.

Fall 2003
Ah, my first semester of college. I can remember the excitement and freshness that came with being a freshman at Marshall University. I lived in Holderby Hall, where I would meet some great people, have tons of fun and learn a lot about life. Most importantly, though, I lived right above one of the dining facilities and two floors below the all-girls floors of the residence hall.

ART 112 — Intro to Visual Art
The professor read to us out of the textbook, word-for-word. After attempting to be a good student for a couple of weeks, I started sitting in the back of the classroom and playing through every Mega Man video game ever created. I defeated Dr. Wily and got an A in the class at the same time.

CMM 103 — Fundamentals of Speech Communication
Had I known I would teach public speaking courses in graduate school, I probably would have given this class a heckuva lot more attention. I was already used to speaking in front of people after my JROTC experience in high school and just having returned from Army basic training the summer before my first semester of college. The class went well, but there were also these obscure multiple-choice exams involved. I made it through, but I don't really remember anything from the class specifically. If I did, perhaps I could've made comparisons to how things worked at Virginia Tech and could have been able to make adjustments to my own teaching style.

HON 101 — Introduction to Honors
This was a really neat class, though I probably didn't actually learn anything. It was neat because there were only about 10 of us who met in a small room inside of Old Main. The room was like a Hogwarts library or a rich old man's den. The very pretigious and historic atmosphere coupled with an easygoing, insightful professor made for good random conversation. This course was meant as an introduction to time management, the campus and similar topics for honors students. The topics we covered were really nothing new, but this was only a one-hour credit course anyway, and I feel as though it made the transition to college special for our little group.

JMC 100 — Fundamentals of Journalism Writing & Editing
This is probably the first class I've mentioned so far where I really learned some things, and it was of course the first time I got to delve into my major of journalism. My professor here was very mom-like, and I would go on to have her several times again. She was caring and offered great advice, but she gave tough grammar and AP style quizzes that challenged young freshmen to step up and develop a mastery of journalistic language early on in the academic process.

JMC 101 — Media Literacy
The absolute best professor in the entire world taught this class, and I would have him later for Media Law. He ran circles around the auditorium, screaming and hitting students on the head with papers. He consumed large amounts of Diet Dr. Pepper and persuaded us that love doesn't exist — it's created by the media, of course. Most of all, I developed an understanding of how to interpret and analyze what I see in the media, and I realized as never before how powerful the work I was soon to do as a journalist could be.

MS 101 — Foundations of Officership & MS 101L — Military Science Basic Leadership Lab I
For anyone who doesn't already know, MS stands for military science. I probably should've mentioned earlier on that my original reason for going to college in the first place was to enroll in ROTC and become an Army officer. Anyone who knows me knows that isn't how things turned out. In fact, after going through basic training and MOS training at Ft. Knox, Ky., ROTC courses seemed like a boring joke. I ended up liking my major more than I thought I would when I chose it as a "backup" to comissioning. I excelled in college, and the military seemed less and less important to me, especially after the first semester in ROTC courses. It was still nice to get some experience in a military atmosphere and have the camaraderie I missed so much from basic training, though, so I decided to stick with it a little longer.

MTH 121 — Concepts and Applications
This definitely was not your average college math class, especially judging from what people who have attended other universities have told me. This was good for me, though, as I wasn't that strong in math when I started college. I had terrible math teachers in middle and high school, and I had grown to despise the subject. In this course, I got a refresher from algebra and geometry, but the problems here were primarily reasoning and logical thinking situations in the form of word problems. I had an interesting professor who often allowed pet turtles to run around the room during class, so this introduction to collegiate math was much more fun than pre-college math, but I still wasn't going to give the topic much time. Had I done so, I probably would not have had to spend as much time beefing up for statistics class, the GRE and my graduate research methods course later down the road.

I guess hindsight really is 20/20. There are a lot of things we would change if we could go back in time with the same knowledge we have now in life. Perhaps I would tell myself to take better notes in public speaking class and save them for later, or I might tell myself to take more math classes. Perhaps I would've skipped ROTC altogether to allow for more electives or just a less-hectic schedule. Overall, though, I have no regrets about any one thing from my first semester of college. It was fun, and I met some of the best people I've ever known and strengthened friendships with some people I had already known. I suppose you're wondering what else I learned, and how I fared after winter break when I returned in the spring, eh? Well, you'll have to wait until next time for that, so stay tuned!