Welcome To Our “College Advice: To Follow Or Not Follow” Site


Hello.  My name is Rebecca Weaver, and I’m an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Georgia State University-Perimeter College, Clarkston Campus.

In the Fall semester, my Honors Composition 1 (ENGL 1101) students at GSU-PC Clarkston studied, wrote, and discussed the genre of college advice.  We read examples of advice, as well as a number of articles about the transition to college.  In addition to our GSU-PC textbook Successful College Composition, our main text was The Transition To College Writing, by Keith Hjortshoj.

For their research projects, the students created podcasts that explored whether or not to follow certain pieces of advice about college.  Through class discussion, we focused our analysis on questions such as: Who is qualified to give it?  Who is the audience for this advice?  Does it apply to all college students?  What mitigating factors change the viability of the advice?

Originally, the assignment invited students to create multimodal projects from their research, rather than a traditional research paper.  There were a number of reasons for this.  I came to my job at Perimeter from a digital pedagogy post-doc wherein student multimodal projects were the norm, responding to what many in higher education believe is a mandate to train our students in the skills needed for competent communication in the 21st century.  These skills must include proficiency in modes of communication beyond the traditional paper, including oral, visual, digital, and electronic media, and their teaching must not be reserved for students only at elite or even four-year universities.  In fact, I would argue, one of the most exciting aspects of many digital tools is their ease of access for students from communities underrepresented in many educational institutions. Those of us who teach at schools that serve primarily these communities have a responsibility to smartly and ethically teach best practices for these tools, within the framework of critical and democratic composition  pedagogy.  As Claire Lutkewitte has argued in her introduction to Multimodal Composition: A Critical Sourcebook, “old and new technologies have enabled, and even demanded, the use of more than one mode to communicate, entertain, solve problems, and engage in deliberation” (1).  Communicative tools have always been multimodal, and the explosion of access to digital tools both facilitates and necessitates pedagogical attention to digital literacies.  Further, multimodal projects and classes have the potential to engage in deeper rhetorical awareness and focus on process than traditional text-based projects. This not only allows students to contribute to new “ways of knowing,” but also to respond well to “new communicative situations” (6), many of which they will encounter in their future careers (14). Learning and practice extending beyond the semester and classroom is often stated as a pedagogical goal; intentional and thoughtful teaching of multimodal projects can help us achieve that goal.

This particular set of students was open to the challenge of thinking about both the applicability of certain kinds of advice and the access to that advice for its intended audience.  As a composition pedagogue, I know that we must always consider our audience. The audience for most college advice tends to be college students, as well as their parents or guardians.  But most college students don’t read their student colleagues’ research papers (unless in a peer review context).  Many college students are used to communicating in and getting information from multimodal formats.

Therefore, it made sense that we choose a more multimodal format than that of the traditional paper, so that my students’ conclusions would be more accessible to their audience.

The students ended up deciding that they would like to create a podcast series. Each of them wrote and produced an episode that attempted to follow a series of steps we agreed upon in class:

  1. Introduction of self and advice (and why you chose to investigate it)
  2. Recommendation to follow or not follow
  3. Scholarly and other research that supports your argument
  4. Reiteration of recommendation
  5. Possible mitigating circumstances
  6. End


Major Project #4: Research Project

Research project

Andre Wright

In this essay, I will be forming a better idea from bad ideas by going over two sources from Allison D Carr and Katrina Schwartz. I will be discussing Allison D. Carr, “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION” and what she thinks is a bad idea, along with presenting what she thinks is a better idea. Then I will discuss Katrina Schwartz’s “Growth Mindset: How to Normalize Mistake Making and Struggle in Class” (Mind/Shift) article and what she thinks is a better idea for writing. First, Allison D Carr’s writing will be discussed. In Carr’s writing, the wrong idea is that failure is not an option and that failure will ruin your life. The better idea that Carr presented is that failing is beneficial towards you. When people fail, they learn why they failed, and it can virtually benefit them. 

I will now analyze Carr’s articles and figure out what is being used to persuade the audience. This will help me form my better idea for writing. The purpose Carr operates to persuade the audience is that the idea that failure is wrong needs to go away. (https://textbooks.lib.wvu.edu/badideas/badideasaboutwriting-book.pdf page 76) Carr says a better idea would be to accept failure. That failure is more learning and developing than markers of achievement or success. (https://textbooks.lib.wvu.edu/badideas/badideasaboutwriting book.pdf page 79) Avoidance of failure would lead to an absence of creativity and counterproductive thinking. (https://textbooks.lib.wvu.edu/badideas/badideasaboutwriting-book.pdf page 77) Her purpose is that failure is beneficial. In the article,

the main goal is to inform the audience to accept failure and learn from it. From this article, I take from this article that you should observe what mistakes you made to make necessary adjustments when you fail. This can help in the future so that people do not make the same mistakes. That way, they can grow.

Next is Schwartz’s article; her better idea is to practice the concept of “productive failure” and give students time and progress to work through difficult problems. Another central part of her better idea is to praise the process and effort the student puts in instead of the final product. (https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/41700/growth-mindset-how-to-normalize-mistake-making-and-struggle-in-class first paragraph) In the article, she presents a video of classroom struggle in a second-grade classroom. The teacher of the classroom normalizes struggle and says how problems can be solved in different ways. http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voa0F2C_hjY&feature=emb_title 

I take from Schwartz’s article that struggling and failing is necessary to improve and produce.

The better ideas of both authors are very similar and very important when it comes to learning. They both embrace failure and give multiple reasons for how it benefits a person. That is why my better idea is to seek success, but if you fail along the process, that is OK, but do not seek failure. In her essay, I know that Carr states that one should go after failure and welcome it, but I do not fully agree with that. I believe that failure is necessary to grow and succeed, but I do not think someone should be OK with failure and go after it. When you fail, it is a good learning lesson, but overall, it negatively impacts you. I say that failing is lacking in success, and you do not want to be lacking in success repeatedly. Our primary goal in school, work, and life is to chase our goals and succeed instead of continually striving for failure and accepting it in your life. Learn that failure is OK, but not so acceptable. Learn what mistakes you made so that you do not make the same mistakes again. That way, you can accomplish your goals.




Allison D. Carr, “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION,” : https://textbooks.lib.wvu.edu/badideas/badideasaboutwriting-book.pdf


Katrina Schwartz’s “Growth Mindset: How to Normalize Mistake Making and Struggle in Class” (Mind/Shift): https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/41700/growth-mindset-how-to-normalize-mistake-making-and-struggle-in-class


Youtube video from Schwartz article: 


Posted by Perts youtube channel on August 14th, 2015

“Students’ Communication in College”

1) Brant Burleson, “Communication Current”, A publication of national communication association, August 2008, www.natcom.org .

2) Geri Forsberg. PhD, “College relationships: Improve your communication skills”, Power to change ministries, 2016, US. www.powertochange.com .

3) Kamal, “Effective communication”, Jan 7, 2015. www.linkedin.com

4) Sherwyn P Morreale, “Why communication is important”, Journal of the association for communication administration, 2000. www.natcom.org


” A Balanced Life In College”


  1.  Conway, Mary Suzanne Devine. So this is College: An Examination of the Academic, Social, and Personal Experiences that Influence Freshman Adjustment. Order No.3318138 Boston College, 2008 Ann Arbor ProQuest. 19.Nov.2016
  2. Aniskovich, Celia. “22 College Seniors On Their Advice To College Freshmen.” Thought Catalog.3.Dec.206.Web.16.Nov.2016
  3. Frank, Thomas.”42 College Tips I Learned Freshman Year.” CollegeInfoGeek. 17.March.2015.Web. 20.Nov.2016


Internships increase career success


Coco, Malcom. “Internships: A Try Before You Buy Arrangement.” Internships: A Try Before You Buy Arrangement. Society for the Advancement of Management, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.


KNOUSE, S. B., TANNER, J. R. and HARRIS, E. W. (1999), The Relation of College Internships, College Performance, and Subsequent Job Opportunity. Journal of Employment Counseling, 36: 35–43. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1920.1999.tb01007.x


Walker, Robert Bruce, “Business internships and their relationship with retention, academic performance, and degree completion” (2011).Graduate Theses and Dissertations.Paper 12015

“The Benefits of College Are Worth the Costs”


Sources Cited:

Lowe, William J. “Education Is Worth the Investment.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 Sept. 2014. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

Webber, Douglas A. “Are College Costs Worth It? How Ability, Major, and Debt Affect the Returns to Schooling.” Economics of Education Review 53 (2016): 296-310. Business Source Complete [EBSCO]. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

Johnson, Marcus Lee, and Nayssan Safavian. “What Is Cost and Is It Always a Bad Thing? Furthering the Discussion Concerning College-Aged Students’ Perceived Costs for Their Academic Studies.” Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology 15.3 (2016): 368-90. Education Source. Web. 30 Oct. 2016

“Don’t take on too much your first semester in College”



@brian_robben. “How Many Credit Hours Should You Take The First Semester?” Take Your Success. N.p., 2016. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.

Duby, Paul, and Laura Schartman. “Credit Hour Loads At College Onset And Subsequent Academic Performance: A Multi-Institutional Pilot Project. AIR 1997 Annual Forum Paper.” (1997): ERIC. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

Szafran, Robert F.1, and Stephen F.1 Austin. “The Effect Of Academic Load On Success For New College Students: Is Lighter Better?.” NACADA Journal 22.2 (2002): 26-38. Education Source. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.