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Rebekah Nathan's My Freshman Year - Essay Example

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Rebekah Nathan's My Freshman Year

Thus leaves the profoundest question that the book infers: 'Is it plausible for teachers and professors to influence the dominant student culture' The question then becomes, 'why would the professors of today want to influence student behavior and thinking' From Rebekah Nathan's research which steers clear of criticism, I see clearly three main reasons for wanting to affect change in the minds of students: one is the ignorance of world affairs and peoples; the other is the materialism that marks modern American priorities; and the third being the apparent lack of discipline and integrity in the more honorable precepts of what a higher school of learning is for in the first place.
Some of the more profound research that Rebekah Nathan conducted was her interviews with minority students in revealing the lack of knowledge American students have of worldliness and in relating with other people outside of the dominant culture. Comments made by American freshman students such as, "Is Japan in China" or "Is it North Korea of South Korea that has a dictator" and even, "Where exactly is India" amazed international students (Nathan 84). In regards to friendships with people from other races, minorities were not so easily befriended by American students. A student from France noted, "Friendship is very surface-defined here. It is easy to get to know people, but the friendship is superficial. We wouldn't even call it a friendship. In France, when you're someone's friend, you're their friend for life" (Nathan 75). Many other examples from students around the world felt this way too. One student was befuddled that nobody ever even asked him about the country in which he came from. I believe that American students need to improve in their interest, acceptance, and knowledge of people from around the world and to understand that America is not the center of the world.
Another deterrent from students developing more substantial relationships appears to be because of technology and America's strong views of independence and freedom. For example, many students communicate by computer, even when they are in close proximity to each other; television and computer gaming is a typical activity shared that does not provide much opportunity for interaction; and, because everyone wants to be independent and free, students are finding it harder to commit to group related activities and causes. Rebekah Nathan portrays college to be both a rite of passage but essentially a jumping off place for acquiring a future job. In Rebekah Nathan's surveys and questioners it was only a select few individuals who stated their purpose for going to a university was to learn. The main reasons involved: future jobs, relationships, social interaction and fun.
This leads us to the question Rebekah Nathan asks in so many indirect ways, 'Why are students coming to universities in the first place' More students are attending college then ever before; a privilege once reserved for the elite is now made possible to all. More modern-day students need to work while in school in order to pay for college. Student's time is limited and the debts wait at the end of college life with the hopes of landing the perfect job to pay off those debts. The reason for attending a university I understood from Rebekah Nathan's notes ...Show more


In the spring of 2002, an anthropologist professor, under the alias of Rebekah Nathan, conducted a study in order to represent the typical American university and its freshman student culture. As a professor at the unnamed university in which she conducted her fieldwork, Rebekah Nathan asks an important question at the end of her book, My Freshman Year…
Author : srosenbaum
Rebekah Nathans My Freshman Year essay example
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