Some notes on college culture

What is college culture?

It's the combination of language, behavior, values,and philosophy or outlook that are part of a college education. It's the "rules," usually unspoken, that college students learn to fit into a college. College cultures differ from campus to campus, but there are some similarities.


College culture is different from high school culture.

*In high school, student behavior is often closely controlled. In college, students are assumed to be adults.

*In high school, the only way to get out of a class is to drop out of school or create a huge fuss. In college, students often sign up for extra classes to shop around, and they can drop well into the semester. But if they stop coming they will not necessarily be dropped; many college teachers let non-attending students deal with their own paperwork, or it doesn't get done. Many students who stop attending and neglect to drop get Fs.

*In high school, students are forced to stay in school and punished for cutting class. In college, students choose to come to class--or not. They are considered adults who take the responsibility for the consequences of their own actions in terms of grades or later earning power.

*In high school, teachers often end up being disciplinarians. Discipline problems are rare in college, and teachers can focus more on teaching. If discipline problems arise, disruptive students can quickly and easily be removed from class so the focus on learning is retained.

*In high school, teachers are under pressure to teach to tests and to established state standards. In college, there may be considerable variation between teachers within the same discipline; being exposed to many different styles of teaching is part of the experience, and there is wider latitude for teachers to express their views and opinions in the classroom. Colleges value academic freedom.


*Parents generally do not get involved in any dispute between a student and a faculty member or other employee. Faculty members cannot, by law, meet with parents; students are assumed to be adults responsible for solving their own problems, and faculty focus on resolving problems with students. Students are assumed to be adults if they are in college.

What are some "rules" of college culture?

*If you need help or need a teacher to slow down or explain, it's up to you to assert yourself and ask. Some college classes move quickly, and you need to take the initiative to keep up.

*If you are behind or miss class, it's up to you to visit a teacher on office hours or get assignments and notes from a friend.

*Academic honesty is very important because college attempts to develop the whole person: intellectual, ethical, cultural, social, and physical. Therefore successful college students value their good ethics, and refuse to attach their names to any work, including any individual or group homeworks assignments, research papers, or tests, that is not your honest own work. The consequences of dishonesty can be very severe.

*The teacher-student relationship is primarily academic, though a teacher may be friendly and welcoming to students. Gifts complicate this relationship in negative ways; they may make the teacher or other students believe that a student is trying to influence a grade. If a student must thank a teacher with a gift, rather than a simple note, that gift should be modest, impersonal, and should be given well after semester grades are completed.

*Places like the college library really are for quiet work and study; other students get fed up with students who use the library for talking.



What are some aspects of Gavilan's culture?

*Gavilan is a small college. It is a very easy place to get to know your instructors on an office hour, or stop them as they head across campus. This ready access is a great aspect of Gavilan's culture.

*Academic honesty is stressed at Gavilan. Dishonesty is punished with explusion and or/suspension from class and/or the college.

*Academic freedom means that at Gavilan you will experience a spectrum of teachers: easy, difficult, in between; of all backgrounds and beliefs; with very different teaching styles.

*Getting involved at Gavilan really can make a difference. Through clubs, the ASB, and the Rambler newspaper, students have brought about many positive changes and influences many important decisions. A small college makes that possible.