My Freshman Year ~ Rebekah Nathan

My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student

Date Completed: 12/23/2016

Rating: 5/10

Oooookay, Let’s start with the good and work our way to the bad, shall we?

Okay, so I have to say, I love a good anthropological book, right, Whistling Vivaldi is really good, and I can’t name any others off the top of my head but they generally appeal to the social worker in me if not just my desire to understand other humans. And this book did make some good and very valid points, but it just wasn’t all there.

Rebekah Nathan (a pen name, by the way), a professor at a University, decided she wanted to go undercover at that same university and do some research around student behavior to better understand how and why they treat her class the way they do.

I really like chapters three and four. These two chapters were primarily focused on racial diversity and how those lines were drawn in the sand for students, who interacted with whom, etc and how American Universities are seen by foreign exchange students. Neither were very sound studies, but she did draw some interesting conclusions that I believe are important to share with students, particularly white students, to begin to help them understand their actions. Despite this book being written more than a decade ago, I found these sections to be particularly and surprisingly relevant still.

After chapter four this book took a major nosedive. Now, Nathan is obviously out of touch with students in general. Most everything she spent careful time “observing” are things that I could’ve easily told her in just a few minutes. No need to be so shocked that students spend more time working and less time with leisure activities or schoolwork; college is definitely not the same as it was when all the professors and our parents were there. It’s not a bad thing, but it is different. Also, who doesn’t love easy grader teachers? You may not learn quite as much, but when college isn’t the end game, it makes sense why students would want letter grades and to move on sometimes. It’s not the best, but it makes sense. So the rest just seemed incredibly boring to me.



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