English 101: every freshman’s nightmare?

As a college freshman, there is one class that most everyone has to take but no one looks forward to…English 101. The stereotypical first quarter class, the first of many general university requirements, GUR’s as they’re called here at Western Washington University. I, like many of my peers most certainly wasn’t looking forward to this class. Despite my attitude entering this class, I learned more in English 101 than I had anticipated. The course is split up into three major projects; a podcast, a research project and a wrap-up project. This piece I am writing is the third portion which is basically worth 25% of my grade. As much as I wanted to write these projects off as a waste of time, they all revolved around college life. These topics are directly related to my life so I really had no choice but to be interested. Admittedly, none of the work we did in this class is world changing by any means, but that doesn’t mean that this quarter was a waste. Through these projects I worked on developing theories that directly related to my life as college student and following those ideas through a piece with good writing and cohesion practices. In addition to the theories I posited and developed, I learned a lot about college courses and how to solve problems that I might encounter later in my college career.

The first big assignment in English 101 was to create a 10-minute podcast about college life. It was refreshing to deal with a format that wasn’t just another essay like the dozens I wrote in high school. I had never created a podcast and dealing with a completely different medium forced me to go back to the basics. I figured that I might as well make this podcast about something that directly related to me, hoping to learn something about myself. I ended up exploring how or why people choose their college major. After conducting interviews and doing research online, I was happy with the answers I had come to. I learned that not everyone views their college education the same. I realized that I was looking at my time here at WWU as a way to get a degree rather than to get educated. I remember a specific interview I conducted where my good friend Eric Reisner said “I’m majoring in economics and finance so that I can be better with my money in the future”. It was then that I came to the realization I was looking at my college education as a way to get a good job rather than what it is… an education. I was paying almost tens of thousands of dollars to get a good resume boost, and that really resonated with me.

Up until the podcast project, I never truly looked at college as an investment. This was an idea that I realized I wanted to explore more deeply. The second assignment in English 101 was called the “OAT Project” which was a research project. This could have easily been another mundane research project, but I chose to relate it to one of my conclusions from the podcast project. I decided to research the value of a college education and if it was worth the time and money. Through this research I found that if you have the opportunity to attend college, it is most definitely worth it. On average, college graduates make more money, find jobs easier and have benefits than people without a college degree. The assignment opened my eyes to the resources we have available as WWU students. We learned how to navigate the library’s website and how to access the databases that would no doubt come in handy for later classes.

The class forced me to theorize and develop those theories about topics that mattered to me. In addition to this writing practice, English 101 serves as an “intro to college” if you will. English 101 is by no account, the most exciting class that WWU has to offer. It is a required course, and for good reason. It shows students how to approach college course and gives them some of the tools they will need to succeed later on.