CONWAY — CCU freshman Ian John had never been in a college class before his 10 a.m. English 101 course Monday, but it went about like he expected.
“We’re on our own,” he said minutes after the class was over.
His comment echoed that of classmate Kirstin Diemer, who said an older sister told her what to expect.
“You’re responsible,” Diemer related her sister’s words. “Expect to do things on your own.”
The two freshmen are among more than 60,000 students who will start fall classes in Horry County this week. Students at Coastal Carolina University kicked off the stampede Monday with Horry County Schools and Horry-Georgetown Technical College following on Wednesday.
Of the total, 9,254 were enrolled at CCU by Monday, and of that total, 2,286 were first-time freshmen and another 798 were new transfers, according to figures from the university. There were 2,286 freshmen, 1,964 sophomores, 1,701 juniors and 1,718 seniors. The rest were graduate students.
There were no major problems on Coastal’s opening day, but there were freshmen purposefully walking hallways looking for classrooms, as expected, and at least one student whose schedule gave him the wrong classroom, where he sat for an hour before going to the right one and apologizing to the professor for missing the opening session.
Denise Paster, the professor in John and Diemer’s class, said it’s different teaching freshmen versus upper classmen.
With freshman, you have to introduce them to a new way of learning, get them excited about it and encourage them to participate in class discussions.
“I want to talk with them, not at them,” Paster said.
Diemer, who moved to Myrtle Beach from Pennsylvania two years ago, was the first to volunteer when Paster sought comments. John was among the next few.
While freshmen are learning the ropes and trying to figure what college is all about, upper classmen have it figured out, for the most part, and the first day of classes is more of a renewal than it is a beginning.
“You kind of know what to expect,” said Tennia Walker, a senior political science major from Irmo. You know that on the first day of class, most professors will go over the syllabus, or course outline, and you probably won’t have any homework. Paster’s freshmen English students will be expected to have studied and taken notes on her English 101 syllabus and have read a chapter in one of three textbooks for the class.
But there are other advantages to upper classmanship, as well.
“You know the professors by the time you are a junior or senior,” said Dominique de Wit, a junior political science and economics major from the Netherlands. You can choose the classes you will take by the professor who will be teaching it, she said.
As a freshman, de Wit said she was trying to figure out what she needed to do to get good grades. Now she knows, she said.
The students in Paster’s class know what to expect, at least in the broad sense.
“When you come in,” she told them Monday, “you’re going to write, you’re going to read, you’re going to share.”
She said she begins to get some ideas about her students on the first day of class, but she finds that her real information comes after the students hand in their first writing assignment. Some will perform better in class and some in writing, she said.
But the race has begun, and there are always jitters.
“It’s a bit daunting,” said John, from Laurens. “I’m not going to lie. But I think I’m ready for it.”
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.