My freshman year What a professor learned by becoming a student

Rebekah Nathan

Book - 2005

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Ithaca : Cornell University Press 2005.
Main Author
Rebekah Nathan (-)
Physical Description
ix, 186 p. ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. [177]-180) and index.
  • Preface
  • 1. Welcome to "AnyU"
  • 2. Life in the Dorms
  • 3. Community and Diversity
  • 4. As Others See Us
  • 5. Academically Speaking...
  • 6. The Art of College Management
  • 7. Lessons from My Year as a Freshman
  • Afterword: Ethics and Ethnography
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

After nearly two decades as a university professor, the author (writing under a pseudonym) realized she was out of touch with her students. She didn't understand them. They no longer stopped by her office for consultations, no longer did assigned readings or participated in class discussions; they openly took naps in class, brought in food and drink, and behaved as though their education was of no importance to them. Looking for a way to close the gap between her and her students, Nathan enrolled in her own university as a freshman. Over the year, she gained an understanding and appreciation of contemporary college life. She found that many students who seemed uninterested in the whole idea of school were actually intensely curious and passionate about their education. They weren't the problem; the institution of learning was. This book offers insightful exploration of contemporary higher education and fascinating commentary on the ways in which the system has not kept up with the ever-changing needs of its students. --David Pitt Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

In her mid-fifties, the author (Rebekah Nathan is a pseudonym) registered as a freshman and moved into a dorm, concealing her identity as an anthropology professor on leave from the very same state university (identified as "Any U"). Her intent: to use her expertise in ethnographic fieldwork to better understand today's undergraduates. Only a few administrators were in on her project. Nathan undertook both participant-observer research and formal data collection via interviews. She always identified herself as a researcher and found it remarkable that students did not probe her further, as she had a strict policy of "tell if they ask." Her research brought forth three defining aspects of student life-choice, individualism, and materialism-and found that university efforts to build community among the freshmen were largely unsuccessful. In addition, the author learned why many students find cheating an acceptable response to managing tight schedules and gained insights into the nature of the informal conversations students have about their professors and courses. In the end, she offers a good understanding of the current generation of college students and the broader culture from which they have emerged. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Jean Caspers, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.