{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

sommersnovicearticle - CCC 56:1 SEPTEMBER 2004 Nancy...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
124 CCC 56:1 / SEPTEMBER 2004 S Nancy Sommers and Laura Saltz The Novice as Expert: Writing the Freshman Year Why do some students prosper as college writers, moving forward with their writing, while others lose interest? In this essay we explore some of the paradoxes of writing development by focusing on the central role the freshman year plays in this develop- ment. We argue that students who make the greatest gains as writers throughout col- lege (1) initially accept their status as novices and (2) see in writing a larger purpose than fulfilling an assignment. Based on the evidence of our longitudinal study, we con- clude that the story of the freshman year is not one of dramatic changes on paper; it is the story of changes within the writers themselves. There is a feeling of loss freshman year, the feeling of not being connected anywhere. For 18 years I lived at home. Now home is not really home anymore, and college isn’t really home either. Deepak eptember 7, 1997—a balmy Sunday, the kind of afternoon that New En- glanders welcome after late August’s gelatinous heat. From an airplane, Harvard Yard appears peaceful, even pastoral. But to the 1,650 freshmen shifting in their folding chairs, the sense of doubt about starting college is palpable. 1 Speak- ing straight to their opening-day anxieties, Harvard President Neil Rudenstine tries to reassure: “Do not feel surprised if you think you are a displaced per- son, because that’s what you are; and do not worry if all your classmates seem
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
125 S O M M E R S A N D S A L T Z / T H E N O V I C E A S E X P E R T more at home than you, because they are not.” As Rudenstine speaks, students look around, many wondering if they will be the admissions committee’s one mistake. Throughout the ceremony, dignitaries mount the podium to offer good wishes and advice—remember to create new friends, take intellectual risks, call home—and to remind students that they are becoming part of a great tra- dition, one that has been shaped by the words of its students. Even months before they arrived on campus, in a letter to the Class of 2001, President Rudenstine had asked the students to consider the role writing might play in their college educations, encouraging them “to write a great deal . . . and ex- periment with different kinds of writing—because experimentation forces one to develop new forms of perception and thought, a new and more complex sensibility.” 2 But how to follow Rudenstine’s advice, particularly at the thresh- old of college, when freshmen are no longer surrounded by the comfort zones of family and structured routines and are suddenly required to manage their time, deciding if they will spend all or none of it studying? Thresholds, of course, are dangerous places. Students are asked as fresh- men to leave something behind and to locate themselves in the realms of un- certainty and ambiguity. It doesn’t take long for most first-year students to become aware of the different expectations between high school and college
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern