Highlighters and Intellectual Growth in College

Tucked away in this article on how to avoid being a helicopter parent is a little soliloquy on how a student’s use of a highlighter mirrors his or her intellectual growth. (In my freshman writing class, I usually make a big show, in the first week or two, of throwing one student’s highlighter out into the hallway, telling the class that with a highlighter, you can only agree with or ignore what you read; I want my students to develop their own thoughts in the margins.)

imageAs freshmen, students tend to highlight everything in their textbooks because everything seems important. Sophomores highlight several lines on a page as they begin to zero in on the heart of the matter. Juniors just highlight a line here or there. Seniors sometimes highlight nothing — they just write critical comments in the margin and cite other sources of reference. By the child’s junior year you will realize you’re dealing with an expanded and exciting mind. Be patient in waiting to see the effects of the college experience. —9 tips on how to be a good college parent – The Washington Post.