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Chapter 1

ENGL 101: The Composition of Life


A recurring theme in the first chapter is the difference between expectations and reality—as seen in Cadence’s disappointment with her first college class experience as well as the shock of Dr. Elders’s unconventional teaching methods. How does this theme relate to other scenes in this chapter and to your own experience?


Cadence's first college party turns sour as the police arrive to discover someone with alcohol poisoning. The threat of a wrongful death lawsuit and other "legalese” ensues. How does the potential for legal action influence the choices underage people make while they drink or does it? How has the litigious nature of American society affected the idea of being carefree or having fun?



Chapter 2

SOCY 103: Introduction to Social Survival


Cadence learns that college is filled with helpful people, such as Walker who shares his wisdom from Mirabilis’s class and Isabella who goes beyond her required tutoring duties to make Cadence’s Mexico presentation exceptional, and some people who are not as helpful as they seem, like Will who tries to inebriate and seduce her. Discuss the importance of first impressions and how they can be deceiving (both in the book and your own life).


Cadence is shocked to find that her first essay of college earns her an F despite her being an A student throughout high school. This introduction to the real world of disappointment and failure is integral to a college education and a recurring theme. Identify and discuss several characters and their different reactions to the unplanned, unexpected, and undesirable aspects of college life.



Chapter 3

BADM 101: The Principles of Practice


Catissa’s coffeehouse is a second home for students, faculty, and residents. Examine the qualities that make a business become an integral part of an experience like college. What places are forever engrained in your memory and why?


What relationship(s) does this chapter imply between sex and money? Consider Katie’s breast implants and Saida’s attention to the investors at the party. What does the nature of these relationships reveal about our culture? Can money—or sex—buy happiness?



Chapter 4

MUSC 105: The Appreciation of Sound


Self-harm is a serious issue that is often not given the attention it deserves due to common misunderstanding. What seem to be the causes of Reena’s experience with cutting? Have you ever known anyone with a similar addiction?


There is clear juxtaposition in Schilar's musical education and that of Professor Brodsky. Are there subjects that should not be taught in a classroom?



Chapter 5

HIST 100: Unforgotten Events


Cadence, Reena, and friends share stories of “roommates from hell.” Consider how Corrine makes an indelible mark in Cadence’s freshman experience. What’s to be learned this situation? Have you ever had a similarly uncomfortable cohabitation experience? How did you handle it? What do you think makes a good or bad roommate?


One piece of Cadence's history returns when her first boyfriend Damien visits Charleston. Consider her attitude before and after their encounter. What kind of lessons will she take out of the rendezvous?



Chapter 6

FRES: 101: Learning Strategies


While in their study group for biology, Cadence and the others discuss the qualities that make great teachers. What are the traits of effective educators? Even though a professor may be an excellent teacher, without tenure that person has no guarantee of remaining in the classroom. Discuss the benefits and detriments of the tenure system—in elementary, secondary, and higher education.


In your opinion, is Professor Mirabilis being too hard on her students for cheating, or is she simply teaching them an important lesson because no one bothered to enforce it previously? Has American culture become more accepting (and dismissive) of cheating? What instances of “tough love” can you think of in your own life, and how did you react to them?



Chapter 7

SPAN 101: Elementary Conversation


Isabella measures her time by the strides she takes running in the city.  Taking in a place step by step is a great way to discover its nooks and crannies, but there are other ways. How have you tried to learn about a new environment?


What is the purpose of including Leda’s disappearance at the end of this chapter? How does this unsolved mystery relate to the rest of the novel and its themes?



Chapter 8

WOST 261: Gender and Conflict


Dr. Elders dispels some common misconceptions about feminism. Why do you think people are so quick to stereotype “feminists”? Consider if some of the work’s female and male characters—Saida, Enna, Astra, Catissa, Jed, Dakota, Schilar, Walker—fit the definitions of a “feminist.” What can be done to avoid these broad generalizations? What other issues or identifications would be more effectively discussed and understood if they were less stigmatized?


After her experience with the Tarot card reader, Cadence decides not to pay attention to her fortune; however, what information does the woman reveal that is already true about Cadence? What unwanted knowledge falls upon her later? What precautions can be taken to avoid gaining knowledge that can have devastating impacts?



Chapter 9

BIOL 110: Organism Basics


Cadence is devastated to lose her beloved pet and friend, Gunpowder. Have you ever lost an animal or loved one? How does your experience compare to Cadence’s reaction? What helped you get through it?


In her revised essay for English about knowledge, Cadence writes Penny’s example into it, and in her research, she discovers some disturbing information about campus rape. What factors contribute to the difficulties of these cases? What is “justice” for victims of rape? Can it be achieved by campus judiciaries? Why or why not?



Chapter 10

ASTR 111: Introduction to the Solar System


The comparison of being a speck in a larger system becomes very apparent in the opening paragraph. What are the extended schemes that some characters find themselves a part of? Consider Penny, Cadence, Jacinda, and Corinne.


In the evaluation for his course, Cadence wishes there was a “worst teacher ever” comment to mark for Professor Brodsky. What lessons can be learned from an educator like Brodsky? What similar experiences with horrible teachers do you recall, and what was learned?



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