Article: The following excerpt is from a short piece by L. Randall, professor of physics at Harvard University, that appeared in “The Educational Experiences that Change a Life.” (The New York Times Magazine, September 14, 2011)

A professor who later became my adviser gave me the best advice I ever received, which was to not be afraid to speak up and ask questions. Suddenly teachers were speaking directly to me, and my questions were usually good enough that I could detect the relief of other students who actually had the same ones, reassuring me I was doing the right thing. Now, as a professor, I know not to see classes as passive experiences.

Instructions: Please write an academic essay in response to the question below. The essay you write will help us recommend first-year courses to develop your capabilities of reading, writing and critical thinking for college work. Your essay should address the question in depth, whatever position you take. It should be at least 25 lines long. The window you are given for your essay will expand: please write more than will show in the window if you wish. In answering the question, your essay should quote from or paraphrase the short reading you are given and should use examples from your experience that are concrete and relevant. Finally, please reread your essay carefully for meaning and structure before you submit it.

Question: Do you think the adviser gave the author “the best advice”? Why or why not? What does the author mean by knowing “not to see classes as passive experiences”? Do you agree? Why or why not? How does your experience as a student relate to the author’s experience? Use examples from your own experience to support your answers.

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