Core Course Information

Oakes College
Oakes Core Course 2016
Summer Reading Project
Welcome to UC Santa Cruz, and to Oakes College! 
Over the summer, you will review resources to assist in your transition to college, and you will read a book and complete assignments for your Oakes Core Course.
Preparing for your Transition to College
Read through these three links to help prepare you for the challenging transition from high school to college. These are brief selections from academic success centers at other universities, and they include further reading and links to information about preparing for midterms and finals, taking notes on assigned readings, and working against procrastination, among other topics. Read through this information before you come to campus, and refer back to it over the course of your first year as a college student. 
  1. How is College Different From High School? 
  2. How Do I Manage My Time as a College Student? And other concrete and useful strategies from the Penn State academic success website
  3. A System for Effective Listening and Notetaking, one of many helpful strategies presented by the Berkeley Student Learning Center website
Oakes Core Course Assignment
You will read Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2011.  ISBN: 978-1-59558-643-8). Purchase this book through the campus bookstore, called The Bay Tree Bookstore, or through online sources such as,, or at a local bookstore.
Before the first day of fall quarter, you need to have finished reading this book and the accompanying note-taking and writing assignments.  Many of the themes and issues we will discuss, read about and explore in the Oakes Core Course are grounded in Michele Alexander’s book.  
Reading/writing assignments (these are due the first day of class):
  • Read The New Jim Crow all the way through, annotating and taking notes for each chapter directly in the text itself (in the margins) and in your reading journal. Avoid highlighting.  Instead, as you read, keep a pen in hand, jotting down what you want or need to remember, the questions you want to pose as well as your initial response or interpretation.  You can underline or circle key or unfamiliar terms. Annotations will help you in preparing for class discussions.
  • Keep a typed journal or purchase a small notebook to use as a reading journal.  Record your notes, observations, reactions, questions, and terms from the book that help you to understand better how the world works. Bring this to class on the first day--you will receive credit for your completion of this assignment.
  • For each chapter, write a short (half a page) summary in your reading journal of the themes that resonate throughout the text, and the unique main point or concepts. Briefly explain how the main point of each chapter helps to explain concepts raised in the introduction to the text.
For the Introduction:
  • As you read the introduction, generate 4-6 questions that you predict Alexander will explain through the rest of the book.  As you read, consider how she responds to or develops these questions. Include your questions in your reading journal.
Final Assignment:
  • Find a news article (current event) that relates to the material covered in chapter 6.  Print or cut out the article, include it in your reading journal, and write two paragraphs.  Summarize the article in paragraph 1; explain the relevance of the article in paragraph 2. Your article can be from a respected local newspaper, a national newspaper (such as The New York Times), or from an online newspaper or periodical.