Monday, May 11, 2009

UW20 Alum Stefanie Fischer reflects on her UW20 Experience

We have to take University Writing. We do not have a choice. If you give any student a chance, they will not take a four credit course with a lot of work and a small chance of completing the course with an ‘A.’ Most students enter the class thinking that they already know how to write, that they already know how to research, and that University Writing is just one more thing the university does to make our lives difficult.

This article was written by UW20 Alumn, Stefanie Fischer

It's true, the course was a shock at first. It turns out, I quickly learned, students do not really know how to manage their time. Most of us rarely had to exert even the slightest effort in high school and we enter college thinking we can manage it all. Micro-assignments, readings (that originally take us upwards of four hours apiece because we were never really taught how to read anything that does not come easily to us), and three research essays rarely makes for an enthused effort. We stress over completing the assignments in time, and sometimes we don’t. We think about not going to class, and again, sometimes we don’t.

But if you try, just once, just a little bit, you start to realize something: this is interesting, hard and complicated and sometimes above our comprehension, but we want to get it. We want to feel like we can graduate into the real world in three years and publish a book and go to seminars and maybe even be considered a knowledgeable expert. Most of us will not continue into whatever specialized topic our UW20 course focused on, but most of us will find ourselves held to a higher level of academia and knowledge in three years time.

By the time we leave, at least by the time I left my course, we feel a little bit better about it. We have figured out how to read and analyze at least some parts of essays and papers and publications we do not know. We did not just write a research paper composed of research compiled by other scholars and occasionally the inclusion of a critical review of that research. We conducted our own research, we make our own conclusions, we complicated our own theses, and we left feeling semi-confident that we can be scholars.

A funny thing happens then: you start to care about your work. You find yourself in the library until three in the morning, not because you have a paper due, but because you know it is not perfect and that bothers you. Because you know it can be better, that you can do better, and that someday, your work will mean more than a grade. You find yourself in the library at three in the morning writing a paper that you think could actually mean something to the scholarly world, and you want to make a real contribution. That is what University Writing, or a good University Writing, does for a student. It shows us how to be a scholar, and convinces us that we can be one.

No comments:

Post a Comment