Monday, October 10, 2005

"If I was studying symbols in Jane Eyre -- I mean, who would buy that?"

In the vein of Senator Landrieu of the Lousiana Sea (too soon?), i'd just like to congratulate myself for keeping this reasonably up-to-date for a couple of weeks now.

With regards to the title, thank fucking god that someone had that printed in the Yale newspaper. Humanities students here bitch and moan about how the job market is conspiring against them with unfair hiring practices, etc. One (small, of course) part of the article deals with science students with a token mention that there aren't many science PhD's from Yale that get hired by universities simply because we go get jobs in industry. The quote in the title is a quote by a compsci PhD student. It pretty much encapsulates (A) the mindset of a scientist at a heavily liberal arts school and (B) the exact reason i went to RPI. Kids need to realize coming into graduate school a couple of major tenets that i'll call "Real World Truths"...(Frunzi and I were discussing these on our trek back to the Have last night)...

1) Graduate school is not mandatory.
-Corollary to 1) If you choose to go to graduate school, Yale is not the only one in the country.
2) No business will hire you if you spend 6 years studying the social dynamic between lords and serfs in 12th century Northern Ireland. They just won't. This appears to be self-evident, but for many it really isn't.
3) Pursuing your career and a family at the same time and only pulling in a gradschool stipend may mean you'll have to postpone one of those things.
(As i think of them, i'll add more....this is a good start though).

There is a large dichotomy between the humanities students and the science students (formally referred to as "Group IV" because that was the science/math requirement for Yale undergrads), in case you haven't gathered that from either reading this or talking to me. One of the reasons Yalies don't take Group IV classes is, no joke, that the science buildings are the farthest from main campus, and they're on the top of a hill. They complain that they have to walk so far to take science the point where there are plans to put a "Science Teaching Center" in the downtown campus for kids to have recitation, office hours, etc.... Everyone gets an A here anyway, so you can at least put in the exercise and walk the 10 minutes to class and feign interest...not even interest...motivation.

A few quasi-related digressions...
1) I TA'd for a course a couple of years ago where the final average for the class was set to a B+. That's why i liked RPI, average was C+. That's what C means...C means average. Some people are better at some things than others, and statistics and bell curves are the way that turns into grades. Yeah, it sucks, but you shouldn't get an A in a course purely for trying. Professors here write tests (and by that i mean they write 2 and use the same test every other year...pretty standard for people who can't be bothered to do, you know, 1/3 of their job) with some numerical average in mind...something like mid 80s. It shouldn't matter the actual number (well, to some average of 23--biochem what?--doesn't say much with regard to student learning as much as professor evilness) on your test....that's what statistics, averages, and standard deviations are for. Which segues nicely into...

2) One of my favorite rants that i've heard here is with respect to students lamenting their final course grades to the point of parents calling the professor to speak with him/her. Let me say that the point of parents calling up, 9th grade gym class. The professor went on (i paraphrase).... "Sure, let me give you your fake A so that you can get your fake degree and go to fake medical school. Then you can use all of that fake money you've made to buy your fake house and live in it with your fake family...", etc., etc., etc. Amazing....

On a less ranty note, i saw The Decemberists three times since thursday--Thursday at Toad's in the Have, Saturday at Lupo's in Providence, and last night at Pearl Street in Northampton. They played different songs at all three venues, which was very cool. I think NH's was the best--perfect mix of witty onstage banter and musical craftsmanship. Plus, Colin spontaneously read from The Bell Jar and stated their stance on bad bookstores. ("The Decemberists don't fuck with bad bookstores.") The 3 shows in 4 days thing also explains the peppering of my speech/writing with five dollar words. You know me, always trying to class up this biotch.


PS: DR this is for you.


Anonymous Adeff said...

talk to Suzyn about parents of high school kids demanding to know why their straight A, 4 after school activities, plays 3 instruments, donates time at church, captain of xyz sports team, etc. did not make it into Dartmouth.

then buy her a margarita, she'll be parched...

1:10 AM


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