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12 Invaluable Lessons for College Professors from a Freshman’s Diary

Higher Ed Septenber / September 17, 2018

-by Thomas Mennella-

August 7, 2017

Dear Diary,

Well, my first day of college is only three weeks away, and I’m getting nervous. Not bad nervous, but excited nervous. What will my roommates be like? How hard will my classes be? How many times each day will my mom text me???? LOL Anyway, I’m gonna write in you whenever I can, and I know that it’ll all be fine. I just need to work hard, study hard and nothing can stop me.

Love,

Me 🙂

August 27, 2017

Dear Diary,

So my parents just helped me move in today and now they’re gone. My mom cried a lot, and my dad wouldn’t really look at me so I think he was about to cry, too. I held it together until they left because I didn’t want them to be scared for me, but once they pulled away I SOBBED! Hahaha. Such a baby… LOL. I miss them already, but tomorrow we have orientation and then classes start on Tuesday, so soon I’ll be too busy to be homesick. I can’t wait.

Me

August 28, 2017

Dear Diary,

Today was AWESOME! The president of the college talked to us and told us all of the amazing things that we’ll accomplish here. He just kept saying, “in four short years” you’ll be able to do this and that and it was amazing! Then some res life people broke us into smaller groups and told us how much fun college would be. The library is incredible and there are computers and screens and TVs and tablets everywhere. No matter what happens, I know I’ll be able to handle it. There’s so much here to help me! I can’t wait.

So excited….

Me

August 29, 2017

Dear Diary,

Well, today was OK… I went to my first class and it was…OK…. The professor seemed… alright. He basically talked at us the whole time, told us all the work we’d have to do and all the stuff we’d have to learn. It was kinda scary, actually. He didn’t even ask us to introduce ourselves or call attendance. Actually, he really didn’t look up at us that much at all. But, maybe he was nervous. I’m still nervous. I’m sure it will be fine once the class actually starts.

Still positive,

Me

September 19, 2017

Dear Diary,

It’s been three weeks now and it’s not good. I’m pissed, to tell you the truth. All the professor does is come into class, start writing on the board and talks. Talks talks talks. I don’t even know when this guy breathes. Half the stuff he says makes no sense and the other half we don’t even hear because he’s facing the board and mumbling. No one ever asks questions because he never gives us a chance to and we can’t take a single break from writing because of all the notes he gives. I’m a little nervous because we have an exam next week, and I don’t think I completely understand everything. But, we’ll see… fingers crossed….

Still hoping,

Me

September 27, 2017

Dear Diary,

I’m so ashamed. I got a 57 on my first college exam. An A student all through high school and I’m already failing college. The class average was a 60, but I don’t know if that means I did well, or bad, or what.  A 57…. How am I gonna tell mom?

🙁 – Me

September 29, 2017

Dear Diary,

I went to office hours to talk with my professor, and he didn’t even know which class I’m in! I’m never absent, sit in the front row, I even raise my hand and answer some questions, and he was all like “Are you in my freshman biology course or my junior biochemistry course?” Are you kidding me? How does he not know me? It’s been over a month! And, I’m gonna have this guy again? I’m totally lost, totally heartbroken. This sucks. That library that seemed so awesome in August, what good is it if I don’t even understand the basics?  And, those “four short years” the president was talking about…. Looking more like five or six years for me. I thought I was smart, but…. Never mind…. Whatever…..

October 7, 2017

Dear Diary,

That’s it. I give up. I called home today hysterical and begged my mother to let me drop out. I can’t do this anymore. I’m lost, clueless and hopeless. She’s letting me withdraw for the semester, but only if I promise to try one more time. I’m gonna transfer, I told her. Honestly, I would’ve told her anything to get out of here.

Finally,

Me

January 22, 2018

Dear Diary,

First, I owe you an apology. You must feel so used – LOL. There for me when I need you and then thrown in a shoebox when I don’t – hahaha. Well, I got out of that miserable school in a hurry and got a job back home. Everything got so much better so fast. But a promise is a promise, so here I am trying college one more time. Today was the first day of classes and it was cool. My professor is using this thing she calls Flipped Learning. She actually made videos of her teaching, and we watch them as homework. Then, in class, we work together in teams to answer questions and stuff. I sounded… weird actually. But cool. Today was fun, though. She turned her syllabus into a word search game and while we worked on it she actually came up to each of us and asked us who we were and a little bit about ourselves. That was nice. She said it was her goal to reach each of us every day we’re in her class. I’ve already proven that I’m not college material, but for these other kids, maybe this will be good.

Still plugging away,

Me

January 29, 2018

Dear Diary,

Wow… just wow… Today, the professor called over half of us by name! She apologized for not knowing all of our names yet (and it’s only been one week!). She must be studying our pictures or something. But she knew my name, and yes, I admit it…. it made me happy. Her videos are pretty awesome, too. Every once in a while a question will pop up that I have to answer so it makes me pay attention. One video last week was really hard. I just wasn’t getting it, and the teacher actually sent me a message asking me if I was alright. Did I need any help with that topic? A personal message to me! That was amazing, I’ll admit it. Pretty cool experience. She’s definitely reaching me.

Skeptical, but…

Me

February 20, 2018

Dear Diary,

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been busy! That class is AWESOME! The professor is AMAZING! So that video I struggled with was tougher than I thought. I just could NOT understand that material. And I was like, here we go again, not smart enough for college. But the professor hooked me up with a tutor who helped a lot, and then the professor asked to meet with me herself. She was so nice and patient, and she made everything make sense. At the review session for the exam, she called on me to explain that concept to the class. I thought I was going to pee my pants, but I did my best and she said, “that was excellent, I have nothing to add” Oh…. my ….. God!!!! That was amazing. And, I got a 97 on that exam! Take that diary! Yeah! A 97!!! I can’t believe it. My mom is going to be so happy!

College rockstar

= me

May 11, 2018

Dear Diary,

Well, I sobbed for the third time in college today. First, when my parents dropped me off at that awful school. Second, after that horrible exam at that horrible school with that horrible instructor and for the third time today. Today, we got our final exam grades and I got a 92. I needed an 87 for an A and I did it. I got an A and I cried and cried. I was so sure I was too stupid for college and now I’m getting As. This professor really knew me. She knew ME. What I could do, what I struggled with. What scared me and what I could handle. She helped me be successful as me. And all because of silly short little videos. Because of those videos, she got to know me in class and it’s just…. amazing.  I made the DEAN’s LIST! My parents will be here to pick me up soon, but already I can’t wait to come back in the fall. I heard from some of the older students that most of the classes here are flipped, and so I’m going to be just fine.  No matter what happens, I know I’ll be able to handle it.  There’s so much here to help me! I can’t wait.

Love,

Me






Thomas Mennella
Dr. Thomas Mennella
I have been an instructor in higher education for over ten years. Starting as a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and then moving on to an Assistant Professorship at Delaware State University (DSU), a small public university, I experimented with Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and was an early-adopter of the iClicker student response system. Now an Associate Professor at Bay Path University, a private liberal arts institution in western Massachusetts, I primarily teach Genetics, Cell and Molecular Biology. I am Flipped Learning 3.0 Level -II Certified and a founding member of the FLGI International Faculty.




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