On Tuesday, October 21st, The Commercial Appeal turned over the front page of the Appeal section to a handful of young writers, first-year college students all, in order to give their readers a firsthand account of what life is like on Planet Freshman. Well, class, what did we learn? We learned that freshmen love sleep but don t get enough, that it s cool to leave class to take a phone call (only if there are more than 30 people in the class; otherwise, your professor might actually know your name), and that debts are sometimes repaid in beer. But we knew all of that already, didn t we?
Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from this little exercise in community journalism is that embedded journalists, because they are so close to their subject matter, often lack perspective. For example, one student, in an attempt to point out the differences between high school and college, wrote, In college there is definitely more social freedom. If you just happen to eat lunch by yourself, you don t feel like a freak. This keen observation, as those of us who have been there and back again can attest, does not mean that you are not, in fact, a freak. Another youthful wordsmith, who found his charitable intentions at odds with academic life, noted, I find myself ... skipping class so I can work at the soup kitchen. Sounds like those ladle skills might come in handy some day.