My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student [NOOK Book]

Overview

After fifteen years of teaching anthropology at a large university, Rebekah Nathan had become baffled by her own students. Their strange behavior—eating meals at their desks, not completing reading assignments, remaining silent through class discussions—made her feel as if she were dealing with a completely foreign culture. So Nathan decided to do what anthropologists do when confused by a different culture: Go live with them. She enrolled as a freshman, moved into the dorm, ate in the dining hall, and took a ...
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My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student

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Overview

After fifteen years of teaching anthropology at a large university, Rebekah Nathan had become baffled by her own students. Their strange behavior—eating meals at their desks, not completing reading assignments, remaining silent through class discussions—made her feel as if she were dealing with a completely foreign culture. So Nathan decided to do what anthropologists do when confused by a different culture: Go live with them. She enrolled as a freshman, moved into the dorm, ate in the dining hall, and took a full load of courses. And she came to understand that being a student is a pretty difficult job, too. Her discoveries about contemporary undergraduate culture are surprising and her observations are invaluable, making My Freshman Year essential reading for students, parents, faculty, and anyone interested in educational policy.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In her mid-fifties, the author (Rebekah Nathan is a pseudonym) registered as a freshman and moved into a dorm, concealing her identity as an anthropology professor on leave from the very same state university (identified as "Any U"). Her intent: to use her expertise in ethnographic fieldwork to better understand today's undergraduates. Only a few administrators were in on her project. Nathan undertook both participant-observer research and formal data collection via interviews. She always identified herself as a researcher and found it remarkable that students did not probe her further, as she had a strict policy of "tell if they ask." Her research brought forth three defining aspects of student life-choice, individualism, and materialism-and found that university efforts to build community among the freshmen were largely unsuccessful. In addition, the author learned why many students find cheating an acceptable response to managing tight schedules and gained insights into the nature of the informal conversations students have about their professors and courses. In the end, she offers a good understanding of the current generation of college students and the broader culture from which they have emerged. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Jean Caspers, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"It's anthropology at its best: accessible, illuminating, contextual." —The Christian Science Monitor

"My Freshman Year... is an insightful, riveting look at college life and American values." —The Boston Globe

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101042502
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/25/2006
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 405,573
  • File size: 361 KB

Meet the Author

Rebekah Nathan is a pseudonym for Cathy Small. She has been a professor of anthropology at Northern Arizona University for fifteen years.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
1 Welcome to "AnyU" 1
2 Life in the Dorms 19
3 Community and Diversity 41
4 As Others See Us 67
5 Academically Speaking... 90
6 The Art of College Management 107
7 Lessons from My Year as a Freshman 132
Afterword: Ethics and Ethnography 158
Notes 169
References 177
Index 181
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Really?! I don't believe it.

    I bought this book and started it with excitement, but the excitement waned as I was disappointed in that the 'undercover' prof sneaked home whenever she couldn't take being a student any longer. I also thought her observations were standoffish and she really didn't participate as a real student might. Having been a freshman in my50's, I know. If Small would have been really wanting to get to know her students better, she most likely would have really, really enjoyed as a new experience and not as a comparison to her own college life as a young adult. Perhaps she should have signed up for a full load, done the homework with other kids, seen and felt the struggles of new information, etc.

    I didn't care for the book simply because I didn't think Small immersed herself into all aspects but this could be because she just didn't have the thrill of being in her 50's and doing something she never thought she would ever do. Perhaps she should have observed someone experiencing all this for the first time, without preconceived (subconscious, perhaps) ideas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2008

    Ethnographic research of undergraduate college students

    My Freshman Year by Rebekah Nathan is an acclaimed piece of work which gives the outside perspective of undergraduate college life and cultural manifestations. A professor at her university, using the pseudonym of AnyU, Nathan undergoes an ethnographic research of undergraduate lifestyle by enrolling as an incoming freshman. Part taking in various activities along with freshman students submerges the author into a world and culture that delves deeper than what appears on the surface-a culture that shapes the undergraduate mentality and living. As a current undergraduate student, I found this novel to be fairly relative and thought provoking reading from a foreign point of view. Nathan does a brilliant job transitioning different regions of research-ranging from dorm life, time management, international students, ethnic segregation-to fully understand the molding of undergraduate culture. Each section of different topics are detailed with analyses and observations that point out the affects that they may have on students and their lives in college and attitudes toward academic achievement. I especially enjoyed the bit about class registration because although it may be second nature to me, reading it from someone who had no prior knowledge about such methods made me laugh. I would recommend this book to any current undergraduate freshman attending any college or university who is lacking academic motivation. However, reading along the book gave me the impression that all undergraduate students were masked in this cultural generation of rebellion. I don¿t recall the author providing any demographic background and sociological factors that may have tied within the student body. Seeing that the university was located in a predominantly white area, it would be interesting to contrast her findings with that of an ethnically diverse campus. Taking into account of culture, socioeconomic status, ¿class background¿ are some things that would have definitely made the book more intriguing. Either way, a very stimulating and easy read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2008

    My Freshman Year Review

    I thought that My Freshman Year was a good book on the basis of what college life is like through the eyes of a teacher. The author Rebekah did a great job of observing student life and what really happens after classes are over. Since I am a student myself, I felt that book was too much in detail and it did not surprise me to see what she had gone through and experienced with other students. There is an excellent analysis of international students and American student¿s behavior of college along with what freshman students care about more in school such as relationships, sex and personal experiences. Rebekah gives an in depth look of how college students communicate and the way they balance between classes and social life. Her findings throughout the book are interesting and she makes the reader feel as if they are there in college with her experiencing what she has gone through. Rebekah is a descriptive writer, in which the book is mostly consisted of. I would say that the book keeps you interested in the beginning, but once toward the end it is mostly consisted of analysis, research data and commentary. This book can be thought of more of a research paper then story. I would recommend this book to older adults, parents or teachers that are curious about college life whether they have gone or not. Also, for people who have not had the experience of college dorm life, this is an excellent book of how living on one self is experienced.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2008

    pretty true to real college life

    In the published ethnography My Freshman Year, author Rebekah Nathan describes her findings about the practices, priorities, and attitudes of the new generation college freshmen. Her detailed observations are fascinating, although they may be quite obvious to college students that have been freshman in the recent past. Her study offers insight for all those who are unaware about the behavior of college freshman: why they don¿t seem to take their classes as seriously as before, what freshman girls talk about in their intimate conversations, who eats with whom in the dining center, and the honest answers and opinions she receives from her one-on-one interviews Nathan¿s primary research method was observation, but she also interviewed a wide range of students, and posted questions in the girls¿ bathroom for them to respond to anonymously. Living in the dormitories, Nathan found that the cultural norm of students was one of sociability, individualism, fun, craziness, freethinking spontaneity, and rebellion against authority. This observation contrasted starkly with the formal culture of the college, which stressed advice, academics, and warnings. In regards to student academic life, she noticed that students planned and organized their class schedules and extracurricular activities around what was most important to them. For example, they may have scheduled their classes a certain way in order to make room for a club or organization that was a top priority. Further, she observed with some surprise that students would sometimes ditch class in favor of catching some much needed sleep, completing work for another class, or attending an important extracurricular event. This ¿prioritizing¿ was in accordance with the strongly held value of free choice and fierce individualism. According to Nathan¿s observations, community life in the dorms was almost non-existent due to students¿ individual schedules, which were a direct result of a plethora of choices. As a result, such a wide range of personal preferences of extracurriculars and classes were not conducive to a tight knit community in the dorms.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2008

    an enjoyable read

    My freshman year¿what a professor learned by becoming a student by Rebekah Nathan provides a systematic account of freshmen life in today¿s public university from several different angles. From classrooms to the dinning hall, from international students to dorm mates, this book unravels the many ¿isms¿ that characterize and shape first-year college students: individualism, materialism, ego-centrism, to name a few. The research is unique, as the author, a university professor, immersed herself in student life by becoming a college freshman herself. She moved into the college dorm, attended classes, befriended her classmates, while at the same time concealing her true identity. The ethnographic research method¿ participant observation¿ enabled the author to examine the topics in an objective manner. In addition, the book is interspersed with quotes from interviewees, adding richness and credibility to the research. Besides the detailed descriptive data, My freshman year also presents issues¿such as cheating¿ currently underlying American education. The multitude of the data colleted through interviews and experiences living among freshmen add interesting details to her observations. Furthermore, she substantiates her arguments with a wide range of statistics. Despite the richness of the data she collected, her analysis on most topics only scratches skin-deep. It does not have much original, thought-provoking analysis and conclusions. For instance, as an international student who is currently studying in the U.S., I don¿t think her book adds much to my perception of American students. Her conclusions on American college life merely reinforce the stereotypes about them that I once read in a U.S. survival guide while waiting for my visa in front of the American embassy in Beijing. Despite its shortcomings, this book is very well written and an enjoyable read.

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    Posted October 16, 2011

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    Posted May 29, 2011

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    Posted April 19, 2011

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