Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Things I told the last high-school student I foolishly took into my lab, by Froderick Frankenstien from Fresno

-          NO asking, "I wasn't in class. Did I miss anything important?" OF COURSE you did!

-          NO complaining about teachers at your high school. It makes you look terrible. ABSOLUTELY NO complaining about the teacher who recommended you come work for me. I thought he was pretty good when he was a student here.

-          NO putting your head on the desk or sleeping during class. It makes me want to quit right then and there.

-          NO looking like there's a bad smell in the room whenever I mention the flagship public university in our state. It's the best public university in the U.S.A., and has for a long time had first-rate programs in both physics and astronomy. You'd be lucky to get in there.

-          Likewise with any other universities in the system.

-          Likewise for the system of universities where I teach. This one is apparently good enough for you now.

-          NO late homework, ever, ever, EVER. If you're ill or have a genuine emergency serious enough to leave a paper trail, bring me a copy, and I'll mark any work you missed as "excused." I won't accept it late, ever.

-          Physics and astronomy aren't pat subjects. Resourcefulness and genuine, original though are required. If you don't appear to have the formula you need, consider it an invitation to find it out, or to devise it yourself. Use your initiative!

-          NO quitting, if you want me to keep helping you. You can make more money for less effort doing just about any job on the planet, other than astronomy. Remember, ultimately, that your career will be up to you.

- Froderick Frankenstien from Fresno


  1. That should be "original thought" instead of "original though"---sorry!

  2. This advice works for college students and new employees too.

    1. What horned me off most about this student was that this student took AP classes in high school and scored impressively high on the PSAT, and yet learned these dysfunctional behaviors from my college students SO quickly. It came to a crashing halt when she got an F, and by far the lowest score in the class, on Mid-Term Exam 1: then it was tears in my office and the assertion of "I AM AN A STUDENT!"

    2. I think I should edit certain items of this advice ever so slightly, print it out, and leave it in the mailboxes of some of my senior colleagues.