This essay explores the concept of primary and secondary dispositions, starting with a first year transfer student who received the full FASFA pill grant and getting into how Student Outreach Services opens up many opportunities for these students. The author begins the essay by explaining how SOS reaches out to students by email. The author utilizes Paul Heilker’s ideas on genres to help frame her essay, along with James Paul Gee to add to the conversation of primary and secondary discourses of a college student. She concludes by saying that the genre of a first year college student that exists within Western exhibits many limitations as its primary discourse does not set the student up for the secondary discourse.


The academic advisers of Student Outreach Service Center.

Before I had arrived to campus at Western in the fall Student Outreach center I received an email explaining what SOS was. They set me up knowing I had a resource once I got to campus, and exchanged multiple emails with advisers of Student Outreach Service and they push that SOS is all about helping me be successful in college and to make the most of my first year here at Western. The office is room 302 on the third floor of Old Main is where the Student Outreach Center is located. Its an office for advisers of all sorts to help students with all kinds of different activities. Paul Heilker a rhetoric scholar explains that in the world around us there are different and new was of being that we can be categorized within. What is this new way of being as a college student I am going to need to get used to?

Students Outreach Sevices offers different genres of academic advising and other advising for specifically transfer students and first generation students. Student Outreach Service is a group of professional academic consultants who are part of a pubic educational procedure with Western students. The students at Western or in general students in college can tie into how Paul Heilker talks about an explanation of how the genre of being a college student applies and he wrote in his essay, “On Genres as Ways of Being,” discuss his idea of genre and speaking for what I have observed that: “Genres are human-created artifacts; they are technologies in that sense. And like all technologies, they embody.. how we should be” (97). What it means for a genre to be a way of being is that how you live an every day life is classified as a genre a student are in. In other words he states that many different genres exist in the world around us. For example being a college student would classify as a genre because it is a roll that many students learn how to pick up every day, and being a student starts to become a normal routine of the day. Being a college student is a whole new genre from being a high school student because students move away from home and don't have parents around to tell the dos and don’ts. This is where a new way of being is found when trying to adjust to a new living arrangements. What is it that brings one into how they would act in this new way of being?

Learning how to act in these genres are the dispositions a person inherits and the qualities of mind and character. James Paul Gee a rhetoric scholar who wrote, “What is Literacy?” differences between acquisition and learning with the difference between primary and secondary discourses. Gee explains how ones primary discourse is acquired by subconsciously being exposure to models and a process of practicing trial and error, without formal teaching that are taught at home is what will bring attitudes and actions in a secondary discourse. Being in a new genre of a college student can seem like a breeze but learning how to be inside of it is hard and it’s more difficult to learn that genre when your primary discourse doesn’t set you up to acquire or learn the secondary discourse of college. Gee said about discourses, “They crucially involve a set of values and view points in terms of which one must speak and act, at least while being in the discourse; otherwise one doesn’t count as being in it” (73–74). So how do new students know what is expected of them?

If parents of the student never went to college it can be difficult to set the students mindset into a college mode. Sometimes when parents don’t go to college their children don’t go either because they think they may not need it, they can’t afford them, or they have the mindset that they would never make it in college. The primary discourse of being at home has nothing to help a student learn how to be in this secondary discourse of college. Genres are significant for SOS because the advisers are trained in helping students navigate these new genres of college, and helping students realize how important it is that we are a college student now. Requirements to be a college student are to go to class, do homework, and to study; as well as a social life, working, and discovering the new town. This college student genre can be a difficult field to inhabit because some students never had to do homework or study in high school, and they have also never moved away from home. Learning how to balance all of these can lead to the choice of cutting something out to have enough time for school. SOS can transform into a space that helps students learn new ways of studying and even how to study for exams and quizzes. SOS can help students find their way of being in the genre. Trying to find the right genre to be in can be hard when I feel like I live in a new world now that I am in college. To what extent is Western’s Student Outreach Center transitional for first year students as they allow for multiple ways of being in the SOS?

Being the first year transfer college student that I am it can be overwhelming when my parents are unable to help with advice or clue me in on what my first year of college is going to be like. How do I know what I need to take, or what I need to pay? When my primary discourse sets me up to not be a college student, it is challenging to learn this new way of being as a college student. This makes SOS an important space because they are there to transform into any type of support I may need as a first year student. SOS is helpful in navigating the transitional genre of being a college student by being supportive and showing that they want to make sure their students enjoy their time at Western, while helping them be successful. Students and advisers partner to meet vital educational outcomes, to ensure academic accomplishments, and to sketch steps for the achievement of personal, academic, and career goals. What is also great for the students that SOS helps is that they do not only offer academic help, but they help with different genres in life as a college student. Allowing for students to evolve with the Student Outreach Center as they are can be flexible with helping the students when need be. So this well help them be more comfortable with what is available to them with the years to come.

Gee offers explanation that a secondary discourse can be learned or acquired. Students will see roommates and suite mates getting involved by going to events or going to the gym and these new students will pick up on these discourses. Student Outreach Services put on different off campus activities for these transfer students to get involved in and get out of the dorms. SOS takes the important role of leading the students into some activities that go on at campus and help them get involved. So what about the first year students that don’t live on campus? Then how does that student acquire this secondary discourse? This is where Student Outreach Service fills in by helping those students get that secondary discourse by getting them to activities on and off campus.

Student Outreach center has clued me in on a few key insights. They offer places for students to go on and off campus so it wont affect students who live on or off campus. They get involved with the student even following up with the student if they have not heard back from them. The space of SOS is important for first year or transfer students because it shows them all of what is available to them that they were clueless about because they had no one to give them advise on what to do or where to go. So this is a great way to get those students out of their shell and on their feet to exploring what great spaces Western Washington University offers. Transitioning to college can be difficult when a students primary discourse does not set them up for the genre of college.

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