Thursday, March 18, 2010

E for Examining Differences

As I sat in class on Monday, I began to ponder the differences between my classmates and me (probably because I was bored and the differences were right there in front of me). Well, really, the differences between adult students (who I’ll define as those 30 and older) and regular/younger college students (first time students). It becomes obvious sitting in a college class with a mix of these two types of students that wisdom, and perhaps even appreciation, comes with age. Some of the differences I’ve noticed…

Class is scheduled to start at 6 PM. Adult students typically show up no later than 5:45. Regular students show up anywhere from 5:45 to 6:45. Not only can I not comprehend arriving late for the first day of class, but I can’t understand being consistently late to every subsequent class. I also can’t comprehend being over, say, 15 minutes late. 45 minutes is absolutely ridiculous and disrespectful to me. At that point, you’re not only wasting the instructor’s time, but you’re wasting your classmates’ time as well, because class is disrupted when you walk in late. To continue obliviously along your path of rudeness by proceeding to ask questions to get yourself caught up is likely to earn you the death stare from the likes of me. Not that you care, because apparently the world revolves around you.

(It should be noted that good professors don’t indulge the attempt by late students to catch up, but it’s still frustrating and annoying.)

It boggles my mind how many regular students show up to the first day of class without the appropriate materials. Some at least make the effort to bring a notebook and some sort of writing implement, but it seems to be a stretch to obtain the required textbook(s). REALLY?! It’s not that hard to find out what, if any, textbook(s) are required for class; once you have that information, the books are relatively easy to find at the college bookstore, or, if you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, online. (Boring post on procuring textbooks to come.)

There is no excuse, in my book, to be so ill prepared; especially for a class that starts the second half of the semester, meaning you had at least six weeks to procure the necessary textbook(s).

Giving Vs. Earning
When I started class on Monday, two twenty-somethings had the following exchange as we boarded the elevators and rode up to the floor our classroom was on:

Brah: “Hey, dude, weren’t you in my art class?!”
Dude: “Yeah, brah, what’s up?!”
Brah: “Not much. What’d you end up getting for that class?”
Dude: “He gave me a C.” (Something about 78 points.)
Brah: “Awwww, man! He couldn’t even bump you up to a B?!”

For some reason, the younger set seems to believe that grades are given. The idea that you earn them based on the amount of work you put into class and homework totally seems to elude them. They almost always seem to think that they deserve better than what they got and that they deserve to be given a break—like a high C should be bumped up to a B.

Perhaps the younger students aren’t wise enough yet to grasp the value of a dollar, or to appreciate the opportunity they have before them. If they did, perhaps they’d work harder to earn good grades, and would show up on time and prepared for that class that someone* is paying good money for. (*I say someone, because I doubt these particular students are paying for their classes. I’ve gotta believe they’d try harder and appreciate class more if they money came out of their own pockets.)

Classes are expensive! That’s why I get irritated when my class time (time = money, so also my money) is wasted. I work hard to earn the grades I want, because it’s important to me to do my best. I take school very seriously. I know what’s at stake, and I have a clear mission.

Perhaps that’s part of the problem with the younger set: They don’t appreciate what they have. They are entitled little brats, wanting everything to be done for them and feeling as though everything should be handed to them. There is an entitlement-whore epidemic in the world today! It’s very disturbing and sad.

Now, I often say: those on high horses have the furthest to fall, so it behooves (heeheehee) them to be careful. I know I’m not perfect. No one is. However, I try my best to be realistic, responsible, and respectful. The world doesn’t revolve around me, and I don't expect it to. I see and hear that there are a lot of people out there like me—frustrated and sad over the direction society seems to be taking—so I can’t be that far off base.

Mamas, forget about cowboys; don’t let your babies grow up to be self-important, entitled brats! Teach your children that anything worth having is worth working for, that they should always try their hardest/do their best, and that the world does not revolve around them. Teach them respect for others (even when they might not agree with others), compassion, empathy, humility, and selflessness. Don’t cater to their every whim, because they will grow up to expect the world to cater to them as well, and they will be sadly disappointed—possibly even destroyed—when the world throat punches them into reality.

I’m paying my hard earned money to attend classes, and I want to get my money’s worth. So you’ll excuse me if I expect my classmates to, at the very least, respect those around them. If they don’t care, or don’t want to work hard, then why bother?!

The serenity prayer comes in very handy when my irritation levels peak, and I start to lose my patience: 

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change, 
courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

I know that I cannot change my fellow classmates who just don't seem to care as much as I do. I can only change, or control, my reaction to them. It's unfortunate that they don't care, and that they proceed to waste everyone else's time; however, I need to remain focused. I have wisdom that they, apparently, do not; I know that education is priceless, and I appreciate the opportunity to attend classes. The best thing I can do is continue to work hard to earn the grades that I want and to finish my degree. Maybe someday the younger students will learn, and maybe not; I'll be too far ahead of them to know!
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  1. My accounting professor told the class if you are going to be late you can come in at the break, otherwise don't come in at all. I don't think anyone was ever late to her class.

  2. I am a college prof and I have your same thoughts, opinions and beliefs. You would die if you knew some of the stuff I deal with...IE:
    student: I won't be here next Wednesday
    me: um, ok. Why? (obviously NOT an emergency) You know next Wednesday is your midterm
    student: oh yeah. My brother bought me a ticket to Vegas. So, when can I make up the test?
    me: oh! So you're leaving town early for spring break! (feigned excitement in my voice)
    student: Yeah!
    me: uh, yeah. That's not an excused absence. It clearly states in the syllabus that midterms and finals cannot be taken early and there are no makeup tests allowed.
    Student responded by complaining to a few Deans and the head of my dept. saying that I "will not allow him to succeed." They all told him to show up for the test or get a zero.
    Nice, huh?

  3. the e-w true. This sounds very different from my overall college experience and the EW epidemic and path to rudeness is the reaason. You have to work in college people..

    hope you had a big glass of wine at the end of the day.

  4. It seems like there's a lot of self-centered students around; makes you wonder how the parents raised them, huh?

    Stopping by from SITS!

  5. I was an older student in college and it was so frustrating that all the fresh-out-of-high-schoolers were so annoying and disrespectful.

    I was an English major and all of the younger students would complain about all the reading. Ummm....HELLO???? It's a literature class. We are supposed to do a lot of reading. And of course there were only a handful of us who actually did the reading, so of course I got labeled as a "pet" because the profs liked me because I was able to participate in class.

  6. Ya know what's interesting? I draw parallels from your class experience to some people I work with. And that's very sad indeed.

  7. I totally agree with you. I wasn't a complete slacker when I was in college, but I didn't appreciate it enough and I definitely didn't work as hard as I could have. I often wish I could go back and do it all over again because I know I would be much more serious and work a hell of a lot harder. Good luck dealing with all those obnoxious brats!

  8. I totally agree with you. I wasn't a complete slacker when I was in college, but I didn't appreciate it enough and I definitely didn't work as hard as I could have. I often wish I could go back and do it all over again because I know I would be much more serious and work a hell of a lot harder. Good luck dealing with all those obnoxious brats!

  9. I would be a younger student but I know that you have to work hard because it is super expensive. The whole time I was in school I only had to retake one class because I was pregnant and the smells in Anatomy lab mad me sick. Other than that I work my ass off to get good grades. I was going somewhere. I saw what you saw as well. I would always get pissed at the kids that just didn't care about their grades and were late. I was always early or at least on time depending if I had a class right before it or not. I would never be 45 mins late. That is a total joke. Why even go if you are going to be that late!

    I have to totally agree with you on what you said. I just want it to be known that not all young kids are like that but there are a lot that are like that.

  10. I was just having this very same conversation recently with a friend of mine who is a college professor. The sense of entitlement with kids these days completely blows my mind. I remember freaking out to get papers handed in on time and running to get to class early/on time--it would never even cross my mind to be 45 minutes late. It's just insanely irresponsible and terribly inconsiderate for all in attendance (but most esp for the teacher who has to stop what he's doing to acknowledge said idiot).

    Stopping by from Lady Bloggers--great read!

  11. Good point, Margaret. I should've clarified that more in this post. Not all younger students are this way. I should've mentioned that, because I hate generalizations.

  12. I know that I cannot change my fellow classmates who just don't seem to care as much as I do. I can only change, or control, my reaction to them.

    Exactly! That is my motto also. Once I realized and accepted that, I saved myself a lot of stress.

  13. i have always been a bit of a nerd when it comes to school, so i always had my materials, arrived EARLY, and was prepared. i think this carries on through life, though. being on time, being polite, and earning your way are all things that you need to do on a daily basis! kids these days :)

  14. I'm visting from Raised Queer, Christine's blog. I like your pencil icons. Those younger students in your classes will find their own way eventually, perhaps with an older student mentor? Dunno. Kids don't shock, surprise or even irritate me anymore. They just need guidance and life lessons and a few knocks on the head. Good luck in school!

  15. I just found your blog and LOVE it! The design is so adorable! I'm a new follower:)

    Be sure to check out my blog for the camera bag giveaway!

  16. I totally agree with this. Many of today's kids are growing up to be disrespectful and expect everything for nothing.

  17. This is a great post and there is so much truth in it. When I was young student I remember checking on a final grade for my English class. The grades were posted outside of the professors office. When I saw my grade I said, "Oh my goodness, he gave me an A!". My professor happened to be in his office at that time and he heard me. He came out and said, "No, you EARNED an A". I've never forgotten that moment - and it was 24 years ago. You make a very valid point!

  18. Yup, I agree! "Young" students can ve so ridiculous when it comes to grades. It's not enough to just do the assignment -- you have to actually do the best you can to get a good grade! I taught a speech class and at the end of the semester, a student came up to me and asked if he was failing. He never attended and when he did, was not prepared. That = failing. So after I told him yes, and WHY he was failing -- HE ASKED ME OUT ON A DATE!? The nerve of some of them.

  19. Elle, this was a fantastic post. My favorite part of all? It was when you used big, huge-ass, pink bold letters to say 'when the world throat punches them into reality. I don't know why, but it made me LOL.
    Maybe that wasn't my favorite...but it made me laugh:)

  20. It's funny what a little age and wisdom do to your perspective. When I was a youngster I hated school, had no direction and barely made it through. As an adult - it was MY decision to study and learn and wadd'ya know? I became an A student and thoroughly enjoyed the educational process. As a struggling Seminary student now - it's a bit discouraging and much, much harder but I still enjoy it because I want to be there - unlike the twenty-somethings whose parents have just packed them off to attend frat parties, etc. and hopefully come back with a degree. Grrr. Keep up the good work! Hugs!

  21. All well said. In just a little over a year my two girls will be entering college. I hope we've given them some tools to not be idiots! I hope they appreciate their education and what it will be costing, let alone what they may gain in the process.

  22. I don't think it's exclusively an age thing. I think it's about having some experience of the 'real' world before you start studying. I was 20 when I started my batchelors, which is only a little later than the usual 18 (and much below your stated 30) but I'd had a job, been responsible for my life, and generally been independent. And I noticed exactly the things you're describing.

  23. I think we have a different perspective as we get older. I took school seriously, but I think if I went back today, I would take it even more seriously. The just out of high school group is still in that "All about me" stage. They have a hard time looking to the future.

  24. I completely agree and I felt that way when I was the young college student (I attribute it to having much older siblings and parents who raised me to think this way...) I often became friends with the "older" students instead of people my own age :-)


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