Wednesday, July 15, 2015

College Orientation

Today's adventure was to go to Belladonna's Freshman Orientation.

After a short introduction the incoming students and their parents were separated.  We did not see Bella until the event ended.

By-and-large, the Universities are much smoother and more practiced than they were 40 years ago.  The education process has become much less Darwinian and more cultivate-a-garden.  To fail, a student has to WANT to fail.  There is layer upon layer of support.  I suspect it has something to do with the University's inability to extract tuition from students who drop out.

We got to meet Bella's three roommates.  Two are from the Detroit area.  One is from Joliet, Illinois.

One of her roommates is also adopted, which is kind of cool.

One of the roommates brought her boyfriend and he was glued to her side every time I saw them.  Three hour road trips can have a chilling effect on romance.  I do not expect the relationship to have long legs but I might get surprised.

Liberal Education

The only time I felt an urge to argue was when the presenters started rhapsodizing about the value of a "liberal education."
Liberal Education. Grand Valley State University is committed to providing each student a broad educational experience that integrates liberal learning with preparation for career or profession. Liberal education begins with encountering the great ideas of diverse traditions in the humanities, the visual and performing arts, the natural and social sciences and mathematics, and is an essential part of all of our professional programs.
We value the liberal ideals of critical thinking and preparing students for lifelong learning. The practice of liberal learning develops the skills of inquiry and reflection, which guide students to think for themselves, gain self-knowledge, and make ethical judgments. Such learning can inform individual and collective actions and prepare students for the responsibility of local, national, and global citizenship.

A video clip was shown where various faculty members trash-talked "narrow thinking".  I mentally translated that to "practical problem solving".  I prefer the term "focused thinking" to "narrow thinking" but that is a simple matter of semantics.

Granted, it is important to be able to clearly communicate one's ideas.  But one must have something of value to communicate, otherwise the writer is practicing verbal masterbation.  It may give the author intense gratification but the writer is studiously ignored by polite company and they find themselves standing alone on the corner because nobody is willing to hold their hand when it is time to cross the street.

Finally, the Six Paragraph format is too wordy for "the real world".  Tell me who-what-how-where-when-why, write it so a 4th grader can understand it and keep it to one page. I will email you when/if I have any questions.

The other thing the video told us was what "industry" wants from graduates.  Having been in "industry" all I can tell you is that I am amused.  When I run the universe an instructor must own a business that grosses a minimum of $20,000/year for ten years before they can get tenure.

While walking around I noticed a little bit of push-back.  I smirked when I saw a graph of salaries posted on the door of one of the "narrow thinking" geology faculty members.  Graduates of his "narrow thinking" specialty (which included Petroleum Engineers) knocked the snot out of General Liberal Ed....Their salaries were as much as 300% more than "...collective citizens..."


  1. Yep, reality is engineering IS the place to make a good salary... Case in point- Friend's 19 year old daughter, 4.0GPA at VT in Chem E, currently on a paid internship for 6 months with a major oil company- $65k for 6 months...

    1. That is awesome!

      Fred Reed recently posted a column discussing how the SJW wanted to change the Engineering curriculum to make it more "social" and more "verbal" so it would not be biased against women.

      I accept it as a fact that most people cannot think and talk at the same time, so for me, that makes a "more social and verbal" form of Engineering a non-starter.

      I love stories of young women excelling at Engineering! We don't need to lower standards. We cannot lower standards. Unless, of course, we can get a 30% discount on 9.82m/s^2

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  3. Yessir. Being a University professor (albeit a 'narrow-thinking' one) is a minor part of my daily duties. Nothing about a University operates in a 'real-world' fashion - and virtually every mandated faculty meeting has some push for student 'recruitment and retention', and multiple emails come from the administration every semester about keeping an eye out for students 'in trouble'(from an academic-standing perspective) and ensuring that they get the 'help' they need to keep them in school. I don't get my student's until they are seniors...far too many of them should have much earlier been shunted off to another course of study... but the program needs student numbers in order to justify staffing positions, etc...I'm not a willing player, and I'm sure my dean would be unhappy to know that I routinely try to point stellar students in another direction, away from the program where I'm housed.

    1. ...recruitment and retention....

      One of the things that The US News and World Report has done a great job of is the focus on retention rates.

      But it cannot be over emphasized that the schools that excel at retention are both highly selective and highly endowed. The vast majority of the students they admit are over-qualified. And the endowment provides a safety net for students who might find themselves painted into a corner financially.

      Compare Central Anystate University with Any Ivy League University.

      Central Anystate primary mission is to make a University education available to the students within a 90 minute radius of their location. Average students, good students, a few great students and some horrible students. Many, perhaps most students attend school while living life. They work (and as young workers it is often an "off" shift). They have kids.

      The students at Any Ivy is triple filtered. Average .students rarely apply to Princeton. Students who are not affluent, especially ones from out-of-state, rarely apply to Cornell. On top of that, the institutions reject 90%, or more, of the applicants.

      It is stupid to compare Freshman retention rates and five year matriculation rates between the two types if institutions.

      But given the chaos of Central Anystate students' lives, I think they need access to all of those supports MORE than Any Ivy. The problem is that students need to start accessing those resources sooner. They are not coming into college with good study skills and they are not asking for help because they are proud, or stubborn, or think that a 2.5 GPA is PDG.

      Thanks for letting me vent.

    2. I don't doubt that any of your assertions are correct.

      However, what I see in our program is that they're 'spoon-fed', encouraged not to take challenging courses that *might* adversely impact their GPA (or even their continued enrollment) - even though they'd be better prepared for the next level...given far too many opportunities to get 'extra credit' for things that don't really advance their learning - and then the students - and the university administration - are shocked that they're unable to perform in the real world, or to perform adequately on board certification examinations, etc.
      More continuation of the dumbing-down of the once-great American public education system.

  4. I would make one minor change--let's make that $20K/year NET after all expenses including taxes and depreciation,... actually earning a net is where the rubber hits the road.


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