Reverbs from the ECHO Chamber — a Q & A with Mr. Ben Sobczyk

Braden Barry, Staff Reporter

Trinity teacher Mr. Ben Sobczyk

Another in a continuing series of Q & A interviews with Trinity faculty, staff and administrators.

College can be confusing and difficult for freshmen. The change of lifestyle can really cause young people to mature if taken seriously, but the freedom can also have negative effects. Trinity social studies teacher Mr. Ben Sobczyk, a 2006 alumnus, gives an account of college life. He also gives us advice on what to expect and tips to succeed in college.

Q: Where did you attend college and why did you choose to go there?

A: Western Kentucky University for the first three years of college; they had really good history programs. After about three years, I decided to come back to U of L. My dad was a professor there at one point, and they offered a free year of college, so I finished my bachelor’s there.

Q: What was the major you decided on?

A: I had a social studies bachelor’s with a focus in history. I’ve always been interested in social studies throughout grade school and high school, and I knew that’s where I wanted to head.

Q: While at college, did you take part in any extracurricular activities?

A: Oh yeah, I’m most well known for my dodgeball. For three years I traveled around the world playing dodgeball.  My first year there, I played ultimate Frisbee at WKU, but obviously found my true love, dodgeball.

Q: How much different is college than high school?

A: Academically, the first couple of years feel like a review of high school. Once you hit junior and senior year, it’s quite a bit harder (with) a lot more reading. You are expected to show up a bit more, and overall expectations go up. Everyday life is different because you have to be your own manager — manage your own diet. Now the “freshman 15” has become the “freshman 30” these days because people tend to eat more. You just have to be a little more aware since no one is looking over your shoulder any more.

Q: Going into college, did you know you wanted to be a teacher?

A: Yes, I knew I needed to get my bachelor’s then get a master’s in teaching. When I transferred to U of L, the classes I took at WKU didn’t transfer over to U of L, so I kind of had to start over. But you know you can’t know too much on how to be a good teacher, so it wasn’t too upsetting and didn’t delay my graduation.

Q: How soon after you graduated, did you start working as a teacher?

A: The year after I graduated I went into what’s called “alternative certification,” which means I was getting my master’s and teaching at the same time. Brutal year, toughest year of my life, but I got everything done. I was 22 in the classroom in front of middle school kids for the first time. There’s no student teaching; you learn on the fly. You get grilled that first year and take care of your master’s; then you’re off to the races.

Q: So you went straight into teaching middle school?

A: Yes, I didn’t want to teach middle school, but it kept my options open. Being certified for both middle and high kept more jobs open. Social studies teaching jobs are very common, so I had to be a little more competitive and put down middle school and high school.

Q: If you could go back, would you change anything about your college experience?

A: Probably would have gone to U of L in the first place. I accrued a little debt at WKU, and if I would have gone to U of L the whole time, I would’ve had no debt. I don’t really regret the time away, but now that I’m looking for a house — and since I still have those loans — does make it harder today. Instant gratification of moving away was not as good later on down the road.

Q: What advice would you give someone going to college?

A: Stay motivated and on task. Make sure you are doing what you are supposed to. Have a lot of fun, but make sure you get your work done. Know what your professors want and treat them like the police. Be as polite as humanly possible, and they will usually cut you breaks because they will treat you like adults. If you really need that one-day extension, give them a heartfelt reason why you need it, and they will usually let you do that. Also, sign up for your classes as soon as you can so you get classes you want and don’t have to get up at 8:00!