Common Reading a valuable part of first-year experience

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    “Bland” and “repetitive” were adjectives that rolled off the tongues of freshmen when asked about their common reading. 

    Each year freshmen are required to read a book selected by a committee of faculty and staff. For some, it is a tedious task. Others simply breeze through the process. Some future students won’t even crack the book open. 

    Although the common reading may seem like another chore for freshmen, the basis of the assignment is to prepare the incoming students for academic life. Therefore, the common reading is extremely beneficial when taken seriously.

    According to Eric Cox, assistant professor and chair of the common reading, the intellectual exercise is designed to provide an introduction to the university. Every student present at this wonderful campus sat through the lecture about the common reading. Although some discussions were more active than others, it created an environment of learning. The daunting task of writing an essay about a book that has extensive SparkNotes could be the most frustrating part about the common reading.

    Rumors float around about the essay portion of the common reading.  Some say the papers are burned in the dungeon under Colby Hall, while others tend to think it is intended to gauge the students' writing abilities for English professors. Both seem fairly believable. 

    However, we all know the university recycles, so Colby is out of the question. According to Cox, the truth is the writings are used as a “window into the students' writing ability as they enter TCU." Therefore writing the essay is not a waste of time, even though it may take some sunny, poolside hours out of your last summer before college. When asked if there were any punishments for incomplete essays, Cox’s answer was no. 

    “More than anything, the submission of the essays and the participation in the common reading is an early way for students to express themselves in writing and to provide an early indication of their seriousness of purpose,” Cox said.

    However, before you run off and tell your friends that writing the essay is a waste of time, attendance is taken at the common reading sessions.

    In case you've made it to this part of the column, you may be wondering about my experience with the common reading. I will start off by saying that I was strongly against the class of 2015 common reading until I took the time to read it.

    Upon completing the book, I can say that I am now more educated about Henrietta Lacks and her immortal cells. I've gained knowledge about a story that would have gone unnoticed, had it not been selected by the university. My common reading experience opened my eyes to a family that has a past like no other, which makes me grateful for the life that I have been given.

    To conclude, the common reading may be a hassle in the eyes of incoming freshmen. But with it, we are given the opportunity to ease our way into the academic side of the university and witness how classes are conducted.

     Evan Folan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Austin.