Wednesday, August 31, 2011

11 Approaches to College Life

Reading this list of how to capitalize best on your Freshman year made me think CM would blow it up.

1. Only work hard enough to get a 3.0
2. Talk to as many people as possible in the first week
3. Instead of taking a bunch of liberal arts, double-major in something practical
4. Remember there's life outside of the floor of your dorm
5. This is not the time to launch a new nickname
6. Don't do laundry on the weekend
7. Only play social video games
8. Set everything on facebook to private immediately
9. Strategies to fight the Freshman 15 (or 30)
10. Don't join too many extracurricular activities
11. Never take a class that starts before 10 and avoid all classes that have a discussion section

Basically, this reads like a "ways to waste your education" list to me. Sure, avoid liberal arts. But avoid discussion? What about critical thinking? What about actually learning this material? What about practical skills emphasized during discussion? Why shoot for a B but take something "practical"?

I don't know, maybe this is my own knee-jerk reaction. Do you agree with anything on this list? Do you want to throttle anyone who follows this advice?

Finally, if you wrote a list of advice to in-coming freshmen, what would it include?

Original Article, with in-depth explanations for each piece of advice.

The Impotence of 'Self of Steam"

This commentary from the Chronicle of Higher Ed could have been written by one of us. (For what it's worth, the last paragraph is particularly poignant.) The commentary basically claims we do our students no favors by cultivating their "self of steam" rather than showing them their realistic potential and abilities by setting high standards and sticking to them.

The author writes: "We need to give our students the opportunity to develop to their true potential. We need to teach them how to actually succeed. And this means setting reasonable yet high standards, training them to meet those standards, and holding them accountable for doing so, and throughout their student careers supplying them with honest evaluations of their performance."

While this is a call to action for those of us in higher ed to stop pandering to students who simply want to FEEL good, I am curious whether it is too late, once they reach college, to help them set the boundaries that should have started long before we ever see them. They have 18 (at least) years of everyone else telling them they are wonderful, loved, and special and that the shit they just turned in is worthy of being published. And then they go to college and encounter... well, more people who tell them they're special and that the A they got really was an A, and not a C disguised as an A because the proffie was too chicken shit to assign the grade that they earned. Is there actually hope for this generation, or are we starting just another season of "more of the same, version 2.0 with flashier graphics in our smart classrooms?"

And even more relevantly: I'd like to reduce my defeatist attitude before it spirals out of control by feeling that we actually DO make a difference (and I don't mean only in the lives of the one student who, ten years from now, writes to say, "Hey, you made a difference," although I'll take what I can get).

How many of you feel YOUR self esteem is negatively affected by having to deal with students who have an overinflated belief in their 'self of steam'?

Do you feel you CAN make a difference? If so, how? Do you have any positive stories/anecdotes/encounters/experiences/lies to show that, in fact, we DO make a difference, when we set and stick to higher standards?

Seeing the paycheck department


It is I, Ancillary Adjunct, with an update….okay, who am I kidding? I don’t have the suaveness of Yaro! (Who does?)

When last you all saw me, I’d landed two CC jobs, and life appeared to be good. After that, I had even picked up a uni job…but of course, now one of the CC jobs just had to go and dry up. Seems snowflakes don’t want to get out of bed early. The bakery/bagel shop near me that currently has another adjunct on payroll is looking better and better. Pity the second of three syllabi that needed to be completed was for that now defunct class. So, I have to soldier on to complete one more syllabus. Yay. I think I will be scooping myself a larger serving of frozen yogurt today…..too scared and too broke to take up drinking.

I am happy for Burnt, may you stay shiny for a good part of this semester! EMH, you make me laugh…and wince in sympathy. As always, I love all our brave writers who produce the haikus. Yaro, you are in my thoughts: congrats on deciding to retire! I wish I could have had you as a prof in my sweetly na├»ve undergraduate days! Oh, and Gordon—can we please donate a portion of the proceeds of the Yaro pajamas on the ad sidebar to his retirement fund? Please? I am seriously considering buying a set when the yard sale I am holding in a few weeks (with almost all my earthly possessions) provides me some discretionary funding! LONG LIVE YARO!