College life from a college professor

MCC Professor Kate Midday Talks About Transition From High School to College


Emma Snyder, Staff Reporter

Walking through the door and into a new classroom for the first time can be a scary thing, especially when transitioning from high school to college. Luckily for students that attend McHenry County College, MCC aims to create a family atmosphere to help students feel more comfortable and relaxed when walking in on their first day. 

Katherine Midday, an Instructor of English and Chair of the Learning Communities Program at MCC, is one of the many faces that may greet students on their first day.

 “Everyone is welcome. The doors are open, come in, and we will teach you,” Midday said.

Everyone is welcome. The doors are open. Come in, and we will teach you.”

— Kate Midday

Midday teaches various courses, including Composition I, Composition II, Intro to Children’s Literature, and Women’s Literature, working to help students who want to further their education.

“I loved college so much so that I decided to never leave,” laughed Midday. “It was the most transformative time of my whole life, so it made me really excited to be part of that for other people.”

In her Comp. I class, Midday works with many students transitioning from high school to college, which can be more difficult for some students than others. Terri McLaughlin, an Academic Adviser at MCC, helps to make that transition go as smoothly as possible for the students.

“Students are concerned about everything,” McLaughlin said. “Probably the number one question when you sit down with a student is: ‘Do I have to take that?, Do I need that course? Will that course transfer?’”

As an advisor, McLaughlin helps students choose their courses and prepare for the rigor and challenge of the courses they plan on taking. Midday also helps her students make the transition with how she teaches the material in her Comp I course.

Of the many different classes that Midday teaches, Comp. I is a college course that all freshmen are required to take. She starts each of these classes with 15 minutes of journaling.

“It’s not journaling like ‘tell me about your feelings,’” joked Midday. “It’s journaling in that there’s no judgment, there’s no proofreading, it is just sort of a stream of consciousness.”

Often times, Midday doesn’t talk to the students until after they are done journaling. They just know to absorb the prompt that she has given them that day and respond to it.

“I call it ‘setting the tone’ and really it does because, in college, a lot of our students work and they are running sometimes from work to school, back to work, or from school to work,” she explains. “They go from class to class to class and it’s hard, I think, to kind of settle into your subject. In a writing class, it’s really important that we are writing; that’s where our minds are, that’s where our focus is; so every single day we start with writing and that’s important.”

Photo courtesy of MCC

Midday also said she starts with a unit that is generally easier for students before she moves into the harder material.  

“The first unit is a personal narrative,” said Midday. “They get to write about themselves and I do that first on purpose because usually, that’s a little less difficult for people.”

The expectation that Midday has for students that take her courses isn’t that they are the most talented writers, her expectation is simply that the students in her class want to be there — That they are willing to put the time and effort into their education.

“It’s like a feast, I will show up and bring food but you have to bring your appetite,” Midday said. “You have to come hungry. That is sometimes hard for students who don’t have a focused idea of what they want. I would argue that it doesn’t have to be hard if you just know you want to learn the material.”

Another obstacle a lot of students struggle with is what major to go into when they start college. Sarah Sadler, a school counselor at McHenry High School West Campus, helps students who face this struggle every day.  

“While we’re registering [students] for classes, we talk to them about certain courses we offer here at McHenry that are in a [specific] field,” Sadler said.  “This prepares them when they are picking a college major to know if that’s something they want to do.”

Picking a major isn’t easy for some students and Midday knows the struggle. When she was in college, Midday struggled to settle on one major, switching it many times as an undergrad.

“I found everything interesting to the point where I really struggled to pin down what I wanted to continue to study,” said Midday. “I wanted to study everything, but none of it necessarily had a job attached to it that I wanted.”

Midday said she loves being a professor at MCC, and for her, working as an English professor doesn’t feel like a job. She has always loved English, so much so that reading and writing are also her hobbies. Midday works hard to help provide her students with the tools and education they need to find what they’re passionate about and pursue it for themselves.

It’s like I actually get to do what I love all the time and I wish that for everyone. I know that I’m lucky because I’m doing something that I love,” said Midday.  “I really push my students to try to find that thing for themselves and for some of them it won’t be in college, for some of them it will, but for all of them it takes a willingness to say yes to it.”