Reflecting on the Blogging Process

When I first entered my INTD 105 class, I was apprehensive towards the blogging requirement that Dr. McCoy assigned. When we were told that we would have to write ten posts without a set deadline or a prompt, I was presented with risk. I was unsure of how this process would turn out. Although after reflecting on it, I have recognized the rewards that have arisen from this task.
Beginning the blogging process made me nervous because I did not know where to begin. I had never written a blog before and did not how to format it. Taking the writing advice of Beth, I decided to consider my academic standing and write about coming to college as an undeclared student in my post “The Positives of Being Undeclared.” As stated in Geneseo’s Mission Statement, the college “community works together to advance knowledge.” This took place in the form of feedback from my professor on my posts. Based on the feedback that I received for my first post; I needed to learn to connect my writing to textual evidence and fix grammatical errors.

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Life Lessons Can Arise From Tragedy

I grew up in a loving household that was built on the foundation of respect and care towards one another. My family rarely argued and we enjoyed being in each other’s presence. I always felt lucky to live in a house where I felt so loved.
Growing up, my father was always by my side. He was energetic and filled my childhood with adventure. He did not have a particularly good upbringing, but he wanted to ensure that I did by being the best father possible.
I enjoyed growing up in an average household, until things suddenly changed. Doctors diagnosed my father with a form of cancer that was determined to be terminal. Being only eight years old, I found it hard to comprehend the seriousness of cancer. I thought things would continue to be normal and my dad could take medicine to get better. Unfortunately, I quickly learned ‌that this was not how my father’s illness worked. My family’s focus quickly switched to trying to get my dad better; whether that was through chemo therapy, radiation, or bone marrow transplants.

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Growing Closer Through Distance

While looking through my classmate’s blog posts, I came across a post by Laura Skrzypczyk titled “Parental Partnerships.” She discussed how college has caused her relationship with her parents to equalize, rather than remaining “two separate parts of a parent-daughter relationship.” Her post influenced me to think about my relationship with my mother since I have begun college. Continue reading “Growing Closer Through Distance”

Partnerships with Professors

As I reflect on my freshman year of college, I recognize how different it has been from high school. My high school education experience was fulfilling, but I never felt as though as I could successfully confide in my teachers. Many of my teachers were overly dominant, which led to power struggles in our partnership’s. I rarely could communicate with them on an equal level, and at times they were unwilling to help students find success.
In many ways, my experience with teachers in high school reminded me of the relationship between Gan and T’Gatoi. My teachers sometimes ignored my viewpoint because they believed theirs was better. In Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, Gan states that “it was a little frightening to know that only she stood between us and that desperation that could so easily swallow us.” I related to this statement because I often felt like I was under the power of my teachers. They had the ability to do what they wanted in the classroom without hearing the viewpoint of their students, and that was discouraging. I believed that this was how the partnership between teachers and students would remain as I furthered my education. I thought that professors would teach their class without listening to the thoughts of students. Thankfully, I was proven wrong.

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Lessons From Freshman Year

While reading through my classmate’s blog posts, I came across Theresa Richmond’s post titled “Unpacking Freshman Year.” She discussed the challenges she faced while at Geneseo and how she has learned from them. Her post influenced me to reflect on my first year of college as it is ending. I realize that in the short time I have been here, I have learned so much about myself, my learning techniques, and growing up.

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The Benefits of Challenge

While reading through blog posts written by my INTD 105 classmates, I came across a post titled “Risks and Mistakes” by Mikaela Freeman. She wrote that “taking a risk and trying something new or facing a challenge often provides more benefits than downfalls.” This point stood out to me and made me consider a time that I faced a new challenge which presented risk and resulted in reward. I immediately thought of the astronomy course I took as my science general education elective.

Geneseo requires students to take numerous general education classes to experience a diverse learning experience. Having to take courses in subjects that do not present interest to students can lead to uneasiness. Many people believe that college is a time for students to develop skills that relate to their major. This is why many students wonder why they have to take classes in topics that have no relation to their field of study. Having this doubt is understandable, but the benefits of general education classes can prove to be substantial. Continue reading “The Benefits of Challenge”

The Risks of Group Work

Dr. Cecelia Easton, the Dean of Academic Planning and Advising, recently discussed Geneseo’s letter of academic probation with my INTD class. After examining the letter with us, she said that her goal is to change its negative tone. To involve students in the process, Cecelia asked our class to revise and rewrite a new version of the letter. Our INTD professor, Dr. McCoy, advised us that the best way to approach this task would be through group work. This opportunity was perfect for our class because we have been focusing on group work and balance since the beginning of the semester. Continue reading “The Risks of Group Work”

Academic Probation

Our INTD class recently welcomed Dr. Celia Easton, the Dean of Academic Planning and Advising, to speak about SUNY Geneseo’s current academic probation letter. She wanted to share with us her goal of revising the letter to discard of its negative tone. As of now, the letter has tendencies to make students feel as though they have no chance of improving after their academic mishap. Dean Easton reviewed the letter with us to point out its noticeable flaws and prepared us to work on revising it as a class through academic partnership.

At most colleges, academic probation influences students to work towards maintaining a spot at the institution. The letter that is currently sent to SUNY Geneseo students informing them of academic probation has positive and negative aspects.

On a positive note, the letter does an efficient job of informing the students of their academic probation. As visible in SUNY Geneseo’s academic probation letter, it states that “You have been placed on academic probation.” Including this statement in obvious terms is important because students must understand their academic standing. Students must hear this message in a disciplinary tone because “not writing the letter in a serious way can lead to the student not taking the letter seriously,” as stated by Dean Easton. If the message is not written in a serious tone, students might not realize that they might risk potential removal from the institution if the necessary criteria continues to be missed.

Negatively, the letter is not written to show students that the college is willing to help ease their struggle. The letter does include a paragraph which informs students to contact the Academic Planning and Advising Office if they “can help in any way as [they] work out strategies for improving [their] academic performance.” This statement could be reassuring to students, but, it could be swallowed up by other information due to its delayed placement. Placing this statement higher in the letter could be reassuring for students. It is important for students to realize that they are not alone in their academic situation. Through the recommendation of students and faculty members, Dean Easton has realized that students need to be made aware of the resources available to them while clarifying that they are on academic probation.

As Dean Easton has stated, the way Geneseo phrased their message “might lead students to think that they cannot go on with their education.” As visible in the letter, the word “fail” is used and could be viewed as rough by some students. ‌The letters harsh language could lead to doubts throughout their entire life. During the discussion, several students recommended that the tone of voice used throughout the letter needs to be changed. By doing this, the message of the letter would become less threatening. Another recommendation is to include the resources that might help students reach their academic potential. By utilizing these helpful resources, students could avoid being placed on academic probation again or possibly being removed from the college.

As Dean Easton stated, “students might be set back academically because of their outside life.” Several students made her aware that the college must be caring towards their outside responsibilities, which might include illness or family situations. I believe that students must be told that the college understands their home life because it could lead them to feel less intimidated by administration. Students might be less inclined to drop out if the college shows compassion towards the student’s situation.

Many students may not know what their outlook should be once being placed on academic probation. Although it may be hard to think positively in such a situation, Dean Easton made it clear that‌ students “wouldn’t be admitted to the college if we didn’t think [they] could succeed.” She realizes that students may have hit a bump in the road, but the opportunity to improve is possible if they present the effort. One place that might offer insight on dealing with academic probation is Geneseo’s GLOBE. The integrative inquiry learning outcome challenges students to “ask meaningful questions connecting personal experiences to academic study.” I found this point to be important because it asks students to connect their personal life to their academics. These two aspects are often times separated, but they have a significant influence on each other. When dealing with academic probation, it is important for students to think about how their home life could be causing their academics to fall behind. The GLOBE specifies this concept, but the probation letter should as well. It is important for students on academic probation to realize that their personal life could be affecting their academics. Reflecting on what it is that resulted in academic probation can allow for students to make the necessary changes to transform their academic standing.

The letter’s point is to make the expectations of the college clear, ensure students know how to meet them, and make sure they know what will happen if they miss them. This same concept is visible in the relationship of T’Gatoi and Gan in Bloodchild by Octavia Butler. Students should follow the direction of authority for things to run smoothly and for students to avoid consequences. This concept is relevant for college and the story. Gan states that “it was a little frightening to know that only she stood between us and that desperation that could so easily swallow us.” This quote signifies that Gan is under the domination of T’Gatoi, which is scary because it implements that she controls him. This same concept is visible in college. The academic leaders of the university have the power to decide if you can stay enrolled in the college solely based off your academic standing, a scary reality. As‌ said, it is important for students to follow the authority of the college, but it is also important to create academic partnerships. Students and faculty can form a strong tie by considering each other’s side and working to find a common ground.

Knowing that Dean Easton is willing to listen to the insight of students is reassuring. It shows that she is willing to create academic partnerships with the student population. The goal of the letter is to tell the student that they are on academic probation, while making it known that the college is willing to help them to improve their academic standing. By creating partnerships between students on academic probation and college faculty, I believe it is possible for student’s grades to improve.

Working towards improved writing through academic partnerships

          Throughout my high school career, my teachers always assigned essays that were to be written quickly and in one sitting. This tactic was done to prepare us for essay prompts that might have been on state testing or the SAT’s. Although this technique helped me to respond to test prompts, I feel like it hindered the essay’s that I had to write as class assignments. I tended to compose my papers that counted as class credit similarly to how I wrote essays for tests. I typically wrote them the night before they were due and then edited by reading over them once. In many ways I feel like this method prevented me from writing strong essays that truly expressed the information I had learned. I could have improved my high school paper’s if I had brainstormed long before the due date. Even though this is how I wrote my essay’s in high school, I am learning new methods in my college INTD class that have taught me to write stronger papers while avoiding procrastination.                      

          Along the journey of writing my Bloodchild essay, figuring out how to write a strong paper was an aspect I focused on. Getting a head start on it to avoid having to write it the night before was strongly encouraged in the class. Descartes Discourse on Method clearly states how to write a paper that allows thoughts to build on each other while avoiding procrastination. Descartes recommends conducting “your thoughts in an orderly fashion,” meaning that your ideas should begin small and build up. I did this by thoroughly examining the story to find quotes and information. By doing this, my paper became stronger because I related found evidence to my original point’s. I also took time to construct a strong thesis that I could build on. Once I had my thesis, deciding on what points to write about came easily and I could think much more efficiently. Some of what I wrote about was built off class conversation. By discussing the story in class, I realized more information that related to my thesis. Since we were all working on essays about Bloodchild, building off my classmate’s suggestions helped me to improve my paper. Our class shared insightful information from the story that allowed us to bounce ideas off of each other. Doing this allowed us to build on our original drafted points by helping each other realize new ideas. Avoiding taking ideas from others was always advised against in class. Rather, the professor reminded to take our classmate’s “they say” and create an “I say.” As the Globe states, “The entire College community works together to advance knowledge.” This statement relates to the assignment because the entire class came together to speak about the fundamentals of Bloodchild. The teaching assistants and professor reminded me of the Globe statement when they offered me insight. By running my draft through them and developing an academic partnership, I positively transformed my paper. They gave me wonderful advice that allowed me to write a properly structured essay. Their insight on what I should focus on made it easier for me to build on my idea’s to create a comprehensible paper.

          Working on the paper for a couple of weeks helped me to discover points about my thesis that I would not have realized if I had procrastinated. By gaining insight from my classmates and working with the professor and TA’s, I was able to create a draft that I was confident in handing in. Working on my draft for several weeks has made me realize the importance of structuring my time responsibly when working on future essays. It also taught me to discuss with others to gain insight on how to improve my paper. Learning new methods to improve my writing has been a journey, but it has made me excited to continue to develop and become a confident writer.

The Positives of Being Undeclared

When asked what my college major is, I often respond with an uneasy “I am not sure yet”. During my first semester of college, I felt shame in not knowing what job I wanted for the rest of my life and jealousy towards those who did. Although, as my time in college has progressed, I have accepted the fact that I am not completely sure of my future just yet.

Prior to attending Geneseo, I was met with a feeling of nervousness when thinking about the next four years of my life. I became uneasy over the thought of spending a significant amount of money on college when I did not know what I wanted my end result to be. I wondered if Geneseo offered the major that I would eventually decide to declare. I also wondered if the general education courses I was enrolled in would help me to discover my future major. I was met with several doubts and questions, but I took a leap of faith and I am pleased with the results thus far.

As I further my education, I am happy that I have decided to begin my college career as undeclared. It has allowed me to explore possible career choices through general education classes. I originally had thoughts of becoming a biology major, but I ultimately decided against this after taking an introductory biology course. I realized that the biological aspects being taught were not what I wanted to focus on for years to come. Although, through other general education courses I have developed an interest in a possible Psychology or English major. Many of my strengths and weaknesses have become clear to me as I further my education. Even though I could have chosen a major that was somewhat interesting to me when I began my freshman year, I chose to take a variety of different courses in order to see what I truly felt passionate about.

I realize that I could take my general education classes at my local community college, but I am glad that I decided against doing this. Starting my freshman year at Geneseo has offered me so many wonderful opportunities. I have already met lifelong friends, taken fantastic courses, and gained the experience of living alone. Knowing that I will not have to become accustomed to a completely different college once my general education credits are complete is reassuring.

This experience has taught me the importance of patience and problem solving. Not all of life’s answers will always be readily available, sometimes hard work is necessary to find the answer. With the help of guidance and time, I know that I will eventually discover the major that is right for me. Even though I am not currently sure of my official plan, I am confident that all of the pieces will eventually fall into place.