My classes are mostly filled with first-year students, which means folks who are fresh into college. A few years ago I decided that even though my class is a media arts production class, that a few weeks in I would add a fair bit of class time on how to take notes, and how to get things done. It was clear that this was not being taught in middle or high school, and I could tell that students were simply taking terrible notes (if at all). They had brute forced their way through high school, got to college, and if they found themselves in a course (like mine) that they couldn't brute force their way through, they would choke. My sessions on how to to this stuff (and why) are always well received, and a lot of people actually employ the techniques that I have them do. I get more feedback and thanks for those sessions than for almost anything else I do.
So why not teach a freshman seminar (we call it University 101 here). I don't know, I might try one when I start my new job as a faculty principal. But I'm reticent. First, my sense is that the curriculum is prefab, given to the teachers by a central politburo. I'm not really interested in doing that (well, it's a little tempting to see what it's like to teach a course without any of the real work...). Second, every single person I've talked to who has been in one of those courses—every. single. one.—has said that it's a waste of time. Now, even if I'm skeptical of a student saying such a thing (some folks say my courses are a waste of time—why talk to us about note taking and mental models, I'm here for cameras!), but in 12 years I've never had one person say that they found value in the course. That's just downright bizarre. Either I'm somehow attracting all of the outlying people who think this, and then I'm enticing them to tell it to me... or this is a bigger problem and the assessment of those courses isn't finding it.
Then I had an idea. What if I wrote a small book about how to kick ass in college? Call it something like "Kicking College's Ass." Sell it as a ebook for a few dollars. Wrap in all the stuff about studying, career thinking, dealing with faculty, everything in a simple and maybe-a-little-opinionated volume.
I ran the idea past one class a few semester ago in a highly unscientific poll, and they were interested, but only if it was a physical paper book. Then my head exploded, because I don't know why anyone in their late teens would want a paper book for something like this.
I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.