The first college class I walked into was Oceanography House with Professors Scott Glenn, Oscar Schofield, and Josh Kohut. It was an interesting classroom experience; a small class of roughly ten students, with seven mentor students, and three professors. Yet as the semesters passed (this is the fourth time I've taken it), I learned swiftly that this kind of classroom organization is the one that works the most effectively.
Oceanography House was a laid back class; homework was a collective group post on a blog, the professors guided students in the right direction when a question was asked and no one knew the answer, and the mentors were friendly. The professors never endlessly babbled but they did guide students towards answers to a question instead of blurting it outright like other professors. We were taught about the local nor'easter, Mid-Atlantic Bight, Antarctica, and the bottom of the ocean. The fundamentals of oceanography that I learned and council with Professor Kohut aided me in getting an A in my Introduction to Oceanography class. My connections with Professor Schofield has lead me to potential lab work on shad in the Raritan River with another of Rutger's professors, Olaf Jensen.
On the last class of Oceanography during the spring semester of my freshman year, we were taken out to the Raritan River on a short cruise. It was a beautiful day out and I knew that experience on a resume would put me one step ahead of my peers when looking for a job. Towards the end of the cruise, I asked Professor Glenn about how I could engage myself in research opportunities and he said "you just have to ask." So I asked him and he offered me the chance to work with Nilsen on monitoring the first leg of the Challenger Mission. Throughout that entire summer, I worked on tracking Silbo's progress using HYCOM, Google Earth KMZs, and AIS ship trafficking info. I've also been able to work with two international students from the Canary Island's oceanography program, PLOCAN. During that summer, me, Nilsen, Reuben, and Alberto (the visiting students from the Canary Islands) went on two local glider deployments and got to know one another, to a point where Alberto offered me a room in his house, should I ever visit the Canary Islands.
The class is laid back and yet it is the class that I've received the most from, hundreds of hours of reading a book could not produce what I've gained. First and foremost, I'm in good graces with three directors of IMCS, the home of the prestigious COOL Room. My mentor this semester showed me what qualities a strong leader should possess, a controlled aura of authority, an open mind, and initiative. I'm now a part of the documentation of the global undertaking of the Challenger Mission and I have friends on the other side of the Atlantic. It saddens me though when my peers are talking while any of the professors are trying to speak; I don't think they realize that they're in the presence of world-renowned professors and the 2010 NJ Professor of the Year.