I bet you're sitting there right now wondering why in the world you need to take a reading class. After all, you can read.  You're reading this, aren't you?  So let me explain what this class is really about.

Imagine in one of your college classes, the professor passes out a reading list for the term.  The list goes on and on.  In all, fifteen books!  Books!  Not articles!  You raise your hand. 

"Uh, sir?" you ask.  "Are we supposed to choose from this list?"

"No," the professor informs you, quite smugly.  "You will have to read it all."


If you hadn't taken my class, you'd start sweating.  But you don't.  You're cool with it.  You have some strategies to use so you can get the books read, and understand them, as well.

Or your textbook for another class weighs a ton.  Before you even meet for the first class, your teacher has assigned the first fifty pages (the assignment is attached to the book as you buy it from the bookstore).  You open the book to find the reading to be a sea of dense tiny printing, paragraph running into paragraph, with few pictures and lots of hard words.  This would have been another stress-fest, except you have taken my class.  You know what to do.  You can handle it.

In both cases, there's no panic.  Not only can you get lots of reading done, but it's effective reading.  You don't have to chain yourself to your books to finish reading them.  And best of all, because you know how to learn from your reading, you can spend more time on other things you'd rather do.

That's what we college professors mean by "reading."  Learning the information in the books, and doing it well.

Once I was teaching an English class and trying to get the students into a discussion about the reading, but no one would say anything.  Finally, I asked, "Didn't you read the assignment?"

"We read it," one student said.  "But we didn't remember it."

If you think reading means you look it over but immediately forget it, then you're going to be in a world of hurt when you're facing a quiz on the reading assignment.  Let me say it again --

Reading in college means learning.

It means interpreting visual symbols into meaning, decoding that meaning, reassembling it into an order that makes sense to you, reinforcing it, and being able to use the information when you come into class, or even better when you get out into the "real" world and have a job.  (And you thought it meant running your eyes over the print and hearing a voice in your head say the words!)

Reading is the single most important skill you can have for college success.  (Next to that is writing.  But that's another class!)

Have I convinced you?  Are you now eager to pick up these techniques that will help you succeed in college?

Now don't get me wrong.  This class is not, nor does it provide, a magic bullet that magically makes you able to read better and faster.  You DO have to work at it, practice, etc.  However, this class will give you ways to do it better.

Maybe you're not convinced.  Maybe you are saying, "I hate reading.  If I have to read so much in college, I'll just quit and get a job." 

You could do that.  But here are some statistics for you.  The US Census Bureau reports that people with only a high school diploma earned an average of $27,915 in 2004, while people with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $51,206 that year.  That means without the college education, you work twice as hard for your money.

"Oh, yeah," you might be saying, "Those are the statistics, but I've got a friend who doesn't even have a high school degree and he's making $1,000 a week at his job."  Yep, I know someone like that.  My friend's daughter dropped out of high school and started working as a courier, driving about 750 miles a week.  And she makes good money.  But here's the thing.  When she is sick, she cannot stay home and in bed.  The route must be done and if it isn't, she could get fired.  She might be able to find a substitute that the company accepts to run her route, but if she does, she must pay the substitute, which means she loses the income. 

She has to pay her own taxes and social security.  She has no health insurance.  And on holidays, when the banks are closed, and her route is canceled, she doesn't get paid.  Finally, when you look at her expenses for the gas and the wear and tear on her truck, all of which she has to pay out of pocket, you can see that she really isn't getting paid that much.  Even with the price of gas down! 

Let's contrast that with her mother's job as a teacher.  Her mother, my friend, has a good insurance plan, her social security is paid by the school system, she gets holidays off (and still gets paid), as well as vacation time and sick leave.  This is because her mom finished college.

Have I convinced you yet?

I hope so.  But if not, tell me about it.  Let's start a dialogue about reading well and its value to you. 


  This page last updated Friday, May 18, 2012, by Connie Gulick.