7 Reasons for Incoming Students to Join the Common Read Experience

Posted by Isabella Cavallo on May 12, 2022

There is nothing better than the excitement that comes with talking about a similar interest with someone new. Whether it is a sport, hobby, celebrity idol or favorite spot to eat on campus, shared passions are the best foundations to a friendship. Luckily for all incoming Bearcats, Binghamton University’s Common Read Experience provides a book for participants to read and discuss together. So, if you are looking for a way to learn something new and meet like-minded individuals, the Common Read is the perfect program for you. Keep reading for more reasons to join and exciting information on this year’s program.

1. Introduction to Intellectual Conversations

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Transitioning from high school- to college-level material can be overwhelming for many students. The best way to stay on top of your assignments and ace those exams is learning study methods, critical analysis while reading and notetaking strategies. The Common Read Experience is the perfect opportunity to gear yourself up for the college experience intellectually and academically before the semester begins. You will discuss and learn big ideas, which will make your classes seem far less nerve-wracking!

2. New perspectives on diversity and inequality

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I believe the best ways to learn are to read plenty of books and engage in conversations with others. The Common Read Experience offers just that, with conversations about a new book each year on a specific topic aiming to embrace diversity and educate students about inequality. This year’s title, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, by data scientist Cathy O’Neil, reveals that social media’s algorithms are unregulated and exacerbate discrimination. This book explains how Big Data reinforces and causes structural inequality in education, digital spaces and financial systems.

3. Group activities when you arrive on campus

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It took me a bit of time to find the perfect club at Binghamton University for me, but the Common Reads provide activities and events during Welcome Week. It is a fast and enjoyable way to meet people the first week at school before you explore all that campus has to offer. Even better, you and your friends from Common Reads can go to University Fest and sign up for clubs together!

4. Reviewers have raved about this book

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Nothing is worse than a boring book that just seems to drag on forever. The good news is this book has received nothing but praise! The New York Times Book Review approved of this year’s Common Read, saying “O’Neil’s book offers a frightening look at how algorithms are increasingly regulating people. . . [She] does a masterly job explaining the pervasiveness and risks of the algorithms that regulate our lives.” Wired’s review stated: “A nuanced reminder that big data is only as good as the people wielding it.”

5. Meet Professors

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Everyone always advises students to connect with professors outside of the classroom, so why not meet a few before the school year even starts? The Common Read hosts tent talks in the residential communities during Welcome Week. These talks are facilitated by the collegiate professors to engage students with the book. This program is a great way to build connections and a community with professors and students before and during the semester.

6. Learn about the dangers of computer algorithms

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The Common Reads program chose to focus on the misuse of social media and credibility of information on the internet with this year’s book. In Weapons of Math Destruction, O’Neil explores how the algorithms that regulate our lives in ever-increasing ways are often flawed. Even if you are not a computer scientist, this book reveals the dark side of Big Data in an understandable manner and relates it to education and social media platforms with which practically every college student is familiar. After reading this book, you can be more skeptical and aware of the algorithms behind the posts being pushed to your social media.

7. Stay in contact with new friends all semester

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In your first year, it feels like you are meeting new people every other day. It can be hard to stay in touch with people and build long-lasting friendships from quick conversations after class. The Common Reads Experience continues throughout the fall semester, giving you the chance to talk and hang out with the same group of students multiple times through a variety of programming and engagement activities!

Isabella Cavallo is a senior majoring in literature & rhetoric at Binghamton University. She writes articles for Pipe Dream, Her Campus, and the University's blog and news page. When she's not writing, Bella is typically thrifting, playing piano, painting or forcing her friends to a game of Bananagrams.

Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email social@binghamton.edu.