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Monday, December 16, 2013

Lessons From Orientation by Kelli Turpin

picture by Tomwsulcer
I spent last summer doing an orientation or two every day. I noticed that I hit on certain things regularly, even though they weren’t in the presentation. Call them lessons learned; call them nuggets of wisdom. Here are the things I’ve noticed students need to know to be successful.

The big question I get asked over and over again by first-time students is “What do I take?” The answer is almost always, “It depends.”  But here’s my formula: in an ideal world (a world where you can get any class you actually want to take), you should take one or more English classes and/or Math, plus at least one course you want to show up for. Why?

pic by carmichaellibrary
English is the basis for every other class. The better you read, the easier it is for you to get information via the written word, the easier every other class will be. This is key if you’re not yet eligible for college-level reading. It’s not impossible to do well without the appropriate English level, but it’s difficult. Instructors assume a certain level of reading competence and measure the amount of reading based on that. If you’re not there yet, you’ll be spending more time reading than the other students who have better skills. Chances are, if you’re not reading at college level, reading probably isn’t your favorite thing, anyway – do you really want to do any more of it than you have to?

If you’re ready for college reading, but you still need another class or two for writing, I’d suggest getting started. It’s not as imperative, but you will be writing papers and the more practice you have, the easier it will be – and the less time you’ll have to spend doing it.


If you tested at college level English (Both R5 and W5 on the assessment), it would still be worthwhile to get that first composition course out of the way.

To be continued in a future post ...

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