Living Off-Campus? Learn more about what Lisa Schnell, Associate Professor of English at UVM, has to say about your assigned reading:
"As a professor and as an academic advisor to many first-year students over the years, I am well acquainted with the many forms anxiety takes in the UVM student population. Perhaps the most common cause of mental distress comes from simple indecision: here I am in college, you think, with no idea of what I want to be when I grow up, but I have to choose a major. I felt the same way when I went to college, and I did find my way eventually. But I would have given anything to have had a book like Ken Bain’s What the Best College Students Do as my summer reading before I got started.
It’s not exactly a how-to book, because Bain’s point is not that there’s one way to get the most out of college. He also doesn’t tell you that you need to know exactly what you’re doing, or make a final sort of life decision at any point in the next four years. What he does do is tell you a lot of great stories about people who took the time and found the people and the courses who could help them reflect on what was meaningful to them; people who learned to ask the right sorts of questions.
I recently listened to an interview with a botanist in which she said that scientific training is typically focused on learning about things: as a student, she learned about plants. After several years as a botanist, she realized that approach was all wrong, that she needed instead to be focused on learning from plants. Bain’s book embraces this approach two ways: he emphasizes a way of learning in college that highlights the from and not the about; and he wrote a book that’s designed to bring you and me, the readers, into an experience of learning from. I learned a lot from this book when I read it earlier this year, but I know I would have benefited from it even more—and felt very reassured about my own indecisiveness—if I’d read it before I started college. I’m looking forward to chatting with you about what you’ve learned from it it on Saturday, August 24 from 10 to noon in the Davis Center."