One Woman Academy

November 19, 2009

Online Lectures

      One of the great things about going to a private university is that I can develop close bonds with my professors. Many of my favorite professors have given me great advice about classes, internships, and some of the best advice I’ve ever received on life. A recent conversation I had with a close friend with professor involved the evolution of coyotes in Northeastern North America versus their Southwestern counterparts, our differing views on great presidents, the trend of student opinion, and when you know you’ve found the one. Along the way we spoke about my interest in working for government agencies and where I eventually see myself ending up, but I enjoy a friendship not as a readily available than at a large public university. Humanizing yourself to your professor isn’t just about making yourself more curve-friendly come grading period, but the friendships you make that can grow and last a lifetime.
      But even my most favorite professors get tied up in their own lives and I find myself resisting stupid Facebook application games (my roommates are obsessed with the phenomena known as “Farmville”). Boredom is a consistent predator hunting for the ever elusive “free time”. My eBay addiction is bad enough, let alone Twitter and Facebook. 
      But there is a shining a light! A hope beyond the tunnel of useless Facebook applications and humor sites employing the crudest of charms! The Chronicle for Higher Education reports that PBS and NPR are posting taped interviews and lectures on a site called Forum Network, similar to the pretty excellent YouTube EDU. From the sampling so far, I am most interested in Northeastern professor Nicholas Daniloff’s discussion on the difficulties of reporting in Russia, entitled “Of Spies and Spokesman: The Challenge of Russia”. Turn it in a book and we have the next Jason Bourne series. Except, you know, legitimate.
      As someone who regularly speaks to professors unencumbered by the typical social awkwardness that students develop towards their instructors, these free lectures are like candy. However, I seriously doubt that the average student is going to look at these lectures very much at all. If we want these free lecture services to succeed, professors should use them as study/lecture aides. One of my political science professors loves using videos in his lectures, to the great delight of the densely packed lecture hall. Students could cite them in papers, presentations, and discussion sections. If other professors are the only people looking at this veritable treasure trove, I say that’s a shame. Teachers have just as much to offer students as they do their peers, who in turn should promote the work of their colleagues to their pupils. Just a bit of student opinion there.
      Aren’t you tired of reading dull term papers citing at least 5 of the same textbooks?

November 6, 2009

Story Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — onewomanacademy @ 2:47 pm
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      A friend of mine is pursuing his doctorate in Early Modern English in England. I being the sole undergrad in our social circle at the time, he always made sure not to complain too much around me about the petty undergrad dramas that interrupt his doctoral life. But he was a consistent complainer, so I finally asked him what exactly it was that made undergrads so irritating. He told me that “undergrads are like bricks. They’re the financial foundation of this university, they’re like a brick wall during lectures, and they’re pretty much as dumb as bricks.”

 

      While I will certainly be the first to admit that not every undergrad is a genius, we do present more opportunities than at first glance. If the typical perception of undergrads, specifically underclassmen, is that we’re loud, unfocussed, and hard to connect with, then all I can ask is what exactly do you expect? The American education system is in an utter mess. I myself came from a top tier public high school and even I am occasionally set aback by my peers. We’re untrained, concerned about the job market, and are desperate to change those circumstances.
      

      My little sister went to an information technology magnet magnet high school and learned all the proper forms for business. My arts high school provided nothing similar. Colleges expect us to have the basic tools for marketing ourselves and high schools expect us to learn these skills in college. Some people, like my sister, are lucky enough to get that professional training early on so that they can present themselves as a whole package. However, I would say that the average student doesn’t know how to write a business letter, a professional-looking resume, or what not to say in an interview.
      

      So where do we go from here? One of the colleges within my university is a great business that teaches basic business etiquette in freshman year. They learn how to write a proper business email, what to wear to an interview, and every other important tip that packages you perfectly. Why should only business schools do that? Why can’t every department and college do that? Why can’t liberal arts departments have monthly seminars on what opportunities are available? Why aren’t career services business tutorials applicable for credit? These basic changes can focus students on their goals, prepare them for life after graduation, and whittle away at their fear.
     This blog is about finding out what’s going on in the academic world. Most of this post is about job training done on the part of the of our colleges, but we have to be responsible for ourselves as well. I’ll be reading The Chronicle of Higher education and other academic news sources in an effort to to understand the academic environment that my peers and I are ensconced in. I hope that you, dear readers, can glean some knowledge on the gaps we’re facing and what we can do to become more effective students and teachers.

     So learn. Knowledge is power.

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