This past week, I had the pleasure of starting yet another semester with a brand new crop of 75-plus students. Those kids were all staring at me wide-eyed and nervous, scared, jittery, second-guessing-their-first-day-outfit, excited, ready-to-show-off, ready-to-throw-up, homework beleaguered, energetic, ready-to-nap – it’s true what they say, “it takes a village” – I get all kinds of kids in my 100-level class. Although the level suggests “first-year” students, and the Fall semester might imply “first-time-ever-in-college,” I get fresh-faced urchins that run the gamut, from first day in college, to fifth-year-repeats; and guessing their majors, well, that takes The Amazing Kreskin.
Each semester I ask for the students to tell me what’s their major and their minor. Because my class is positioned under the School of Communications Advertising and Public Relations Program, many say “Ad PR”… but a few are film, or writing, or marketing, or design, sometimes a health- or math-related major sneaks in. But, without fail, it is only the writing students that down sag their heads to nearly dusting the floor when I explain that they’ll all have a writing assignment due nearly every week. And I encourage them to write even more frequently than that, if they can. The writing kids accept the challenge as just another segment on the path that has them bound for whatever Emerald City dream lays at the end of their proverbial Brick Road. The other students, the marketing kids and the Ad PR kids, seem to think I’ve just rationed their internet access and shut down their Snapchat accounts.
They don’t quite get it. These writing assignments – their blogs – are not a burden. This is their opportunity to break free from the long-held siege of their assigned persona, their previously pigeonholed cast and class, and discover who they really are, and share that new persona with the world.