Dear Incoming Student...

This class could well be the 200 ton rocket booster that launches you into the waiting, unexplored universe of education, insight and critical thinking.  Of course it could also explode on the launch pad – fortunately the choice is yours.

There are several key elements to successfully completing this class.  I will list some of the most significant here:

  This course will likely challenge the ways you have been taught to do things in a classroom environment.

   Again, you must be willing to learn and take suggestions.

   Start the process, boil, bake, cook, cut and eat a little bit at a time.

These are three of the keys which will unlock the door which will let you into a great big room filled with ….yes!! more doors!  By using these keys you will come across the keys to open the other doors, if you want and seek them out.  The experiences you discover and encounter there will fill your life with the kinds of wealth that you could only have imagined would be found in a gigantic cavern guarded by a huge fire breathing dragon!!

Dear Incoming Student,

What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  What advice can I give you?  How can I help you to succeed?  These questions have no answers, because success comes from wanting to succeed.  It, the success, is in you.

If you do want to succeed, remember these two words, DON’T UNDERESTIMATE.

What is it that you should not underestimate?  The value of a good education…That learning well is not easy, at least not at first.  Don’t ignore the opportunities…..That unexpected things in life always happen at the most inopportune times…Frustration – your instructors want you to succeed, but will not do it for you. 

Don’t underestimate that learning requires dedication of yourself to something that in the beginning might seem vague but really isn’t.  Don’t underestimate that this is the chance of lifetime.

Learn as if your life depended upon it, because one day it might!  Learn form your failures as well as your successes.  With these things in mind you will not only succeed in this class you will probably succeed in your life as well.


A Student of My Own Success.

Dear Incoming Student,

This class will probably be like nothing you have ever experienced before, it is like an electric shock, an amusement park, and any other wake-up call you think of.  You may be tempted to run away, I know I was and did – dropped the class once before I finally took it and finished it.

Advice - Ted or Paula (depending on whose class you are in) have lots of good advice for you but if you are like me you might ignore it – I think that maybe I didn’t even really hear it or see it even though it was in front of me.  Anyway, they have good ideas and will share all kinds of books and materials with you -- try to pay attention to them.  The course is designed for your success.

Don’t procrastinate!!!  It’s a kind of suicide.

Get help – there’s lots of it -- use it -- learn to be resourceful.

Stop worrying about what other people in the class will think of you if you ask a question…

Be reasonable about your goals  - you may have to make some mistakes to benefit from what is offered.  There will be times when you feel like you are drowning or lost but that is to be expected…

If you are trying to do a zillion things all at once, get real – how many of these are you doing well?  As yourself, do you really want to do well?

You probably think that you already know how to learn but take it from me you probably don’t – I think this is a big hurdle for lots of students, it was for me.

Use the Academic Achievement Center – a lot of the students that work there are students who have been successful in these classes – they are helpful!

Expect to work hard and expect to feel proud of yourself -- that you earned something worth earning. 

I don’t know if I would have listened to anyone if they had given me this advice, but I do know that before I took these classes I had begun to think that college was just a bunch of hoops you have to jump through – I don’t think that anymore………………….

So, good luck, I hope you make good decisions.

Dear Incoming Student,

Let me first start off by congratulating you. By taking the time to come in and read this letter, you’ve taken the first step on the path of success. So with that in mind, welcome to the wonderful world that is Ted & Paula’s courses. You may have already heard some of the myths that circle around the campus about Ted & Paula: “Paula Clark is a witch”; “Ted Hamilton is a socialist”; “They’re so mean”; “Their classes are biased”; “Only the smart kids do well”. Do any of these sound familiar? If they do, please don’t buy into them. I’ve had extensive experience with these classes, and know for a fact that none of these accusations are true. In reality, they’re two of the nicest people you will ever meet. They deeply care for their students, and the education they provide for them. And they truly want you to succeed; no matter what your academic background is.

If you’ve already been to a class with either Ted or Paula, you may be experiencing overwhelming feelings of frustration and confusion. Don’t worry; these are completely healthy and normal feelings to be having. It’s a totally different style of learning than you may be use to. You may be telling yourself, I don’t think I can do this. Trust me, you can do this! Ted and Paula have set the tools in place for their students to succeed in their courses. This course is ultimately your journey. They will not be your Sherpa, and do all the work for you. They will, however, be your guide along the way. If you have the courage, curiosity, and discipline to climb this mountain on your own, then it will undoubtedly be the most rewarding and meaningful educational experience you’ve ever had. 

Think of this letter as a map of the journey you are about to embark on. As of right now, you are at the trailhead of this course. If you follow the directions of this map, you will ultimately be at the summit of success. So strap on your gear, and let’s begin this beautiful journey of transformational learning.

If you wish to succeed in this course this is my advice to you:

I.) Get the General Course Info:
·       You should, at the very least, print: 1) General Syllabus, 2) Syllabus for your course, 3) Essay Questions for your course, 4) Educational Contract, 5) Grading log, 6) Grading criteria, 7) Analyzing a Question, and 8) Student Opportunities for Success. In addition, you should familiarize yourself with the other documents and with the Blackboard.

II.) Set up an office appointment:
·      Office appointments are crucial for your success in these courses. Ted and Paula are extremely helpful in them. If you tend to be a little shy in class, then this is your time to ask questions. This is your time to get as much confirmation, feedback, and suggestions as you can get in this half-hour block. Go into them with an agenda. This is a great way to develop transparency on how you want to direct your time in the office. Set a standing appointment for the whole semester. What are you waiting for? Right now turn to either Ted, Paula, or the nice girl sitting at the computer (Nalatie), and politely tell them that you would like to set up an appointment. Again, I cannot stress enough how important the office time is to your success!

III.) Time Investment:
·      Minimum of 12 hours per week: A cyclical process of Reading and Rereading, Thinking and Rethinking, Writing and Rewriting.
·      Make a schedule for the class. Designate blocks of time specifically towards the course. Coordinate your schedule in sequence with crucial due dates. Make your own due-dates so you are ahead of the game. If you are going to make a schedule, hold yourself accountable to actually follow it. If you don’t it just becomes a meaningless piece of paper.

IV.) Early and Often:
·      Do not procrastinate! It will kill you. Trust me, I know from experience.
·      Get started immediately. Make tentative outlines for all five exam questions, filling them in with the main concepts and themes you derive from class dialogue, readings, and your own intellectual thought.
·      Get it on paper! Don’t keep those thoughts dwindling around in your head. Don’t worry whether or not it’s right; just get it down. This is where office appointments are so crucial. Use the office, and class, to get confirmation and feedback.

V.) Frequently Ask Questions:
·      The pedagogy of this course is based on Socratic dialogue. The class revolves around the questions that you ask. So if you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or confused, then use them as critical indicators to ask questions.
·      Don’t be shy! Unlike other classes, questions are extremely encouraged. Don’t be afraid to ask a question that you deem as stupid or common sense. This class provides a very comfortable environment for questions. So please, question everything.
·      Note: if you come prepared to class with questions (write them on the board) then you can use the class time to answer any questions you had for the outlines.

VI.) Use your Resources:
·      Yes, the notes and readings are your primary resources for this course. But, you really want to succeed in this course you must find other outside sources. And don’t think you have to go to far to get them, because they are right under your nose. Columbia College library offers a plethora of good credible and reliable information. If you are struggling to find good resources then ask Ted and Paula for help. They have a small library in their office.
·      Look at the end of each chapter of your readings, and look for the references labeled ‘For Further Reading’. These are extremely useful.
·      Introduce yourself to the reference librarians: Nancy and Brian. They are both extremely knowledgeable about all of the materials in the library. And are extremely helpful at finding what you might be looking for.
·      Use Nalatie!!! She is the hidden gem for Ted and Paula courses. She is a UC Berkeley grad, and a former Ted and Paula student. She is extremely knowledgeable of their pedagogy, and by being a former student, she can give you some very valuable suggestions on how to be a good student. Even though she is a great resource; not a lot of students utilize Nalatie’s help. She is usually available when Ted and Paula are not. So take advantage of the golden opportunity. But, don’t abuse Nalatie, or else Ted and Paula will have to hurt you.
·      AAC and study groups

VII.) Smile & Breathe:
·      These classes are very demanding, and,  at times, very stressful. Keep in mind that these courses are a process. You may not succeed at first, but stay persistent. See this course as a wonderful opportunity for your own development, not only as a student, but also as a human being.
·      Stay positive. Breathe in all the knowledge you are receiving. Smile for the fact that you are bettering yourself by being in this course.
·      Know that if you persist with this course that you are a hero. A hero to yourself, to me, to Columbia College, to society. You have gone beyond the boundaries, and given yourself to something much bigger—a truly heroic transformation.
·          Be proud of the work that you do!

I wish you the best of luck on your journey through this course. Please take this map of advice to help guide you along the way. It can be very easy and tempting to stray off the path. But, use this advice to help you stay the course. If you do, you will summit this mountain, experiencing an incredible sense of accomplishment.