Parents, This Could Be Your Son or Daughter
No, WordPress hasn’t gone all Kamikaze on you again. You’re at Phil’s door, but Lorna is the one who is greeting you.
Phil invited me to be a guest writer on his blog. Only Phil knows why. For now, I can proffer a few likely reasons. You can vote on which one you think is most likely and then we can move on to what really matters most: what I have to say.
Okay, now that that’s been settled. Let’s get on to this post.
The fall semester of college is well underway. You probably know someone who is either in college or has been to college. Maybe it’s you. Or or son or daughter.
As a retired college professor who was professing for 20 years, I have some great news, good news, and not so good news. Especially if the person you were just thinking about is someone who calls you “Mom” or “Dad” and who you are still supporting.
The Great News: In my career, I met a few top-notch students who I knew would be successful after they graduated…if they could find jobs.
The Good News: Most of my students were functionally literate and, with the possible exception of Fridays and pre/post holiday classes, showed up for class. They weren’t always prepared, but pretended to be. That shows the kind initiative employers like, if they ever decided on a career or found a job that wasn’t beneath them. These students changed majors as frequently as they upgraded their cell phones (for which their parents paid), stayed on their parent’s auto insurance plans, and made no mention of finding “places of their own.”
The Not So Good News: I met a few wing-dingers in my career–students who stand out because I wonder how they got into college. All these interactions are true and I’m sharing them with you so that you know why some college professors are cranky.
I was teaching an upper level class that required only written assignments only. One student, who sporadically attended and barely took notes when in class, always had A-level papers. Then he turned in an F-level paper. I called him into my office to explain the discrepancy. Here’s what went down:
Me: “Can you explain the disparity in the grade between this paper and your others?”
Student: “Sure. Um. My girlfriend and I had a fight. But we’re cool now.”
Me: “What does your girlfriend have to do with your papers?”
Student: “Well, um, she helps me with them.”
Me: “She helps you? How?”
Student, shifting uncomfortably: “She kind of writes them. But I tell her what they’re supposed to be about.”
I referred him to the Dean of Students and failed him.
Prior to a semester starting, a student came to my office wanting to get credit for Sociology of the Family without taking the class. His reason: he was raised in a family and had one of his own. I said, “That’s like wanting credit for taking Anatomy and Physiology because you have a body.” He smiled and said, “Good idea.” I denied his request and hoped he didn’t go over to the Science Department.
Student athletes have to keep their grades up to stay on their teams. One athlete was worried about his poor performance in my class. He came to my office dressed as scantily as any young, buff male had ever come into my office. Muscles and other things were bulging all over the place. He sat with his legs wide open in front of me, stared directly into my eyes and said in a deep, steamy voice, “I’ll do anything you want if you’ll give me a C for a mid-term grade.” He blinked slowly. Or maybe that was me. Anyway. I was glad there was a desk, a Code of Professional Ethics and about 25 years between us. I replied, “Really? How about studying for the mid-term and making sure your written assignment is turned in on time?” He sat up straighter and said in a definitively less sexy and higher voice, “Well, I didn’t mean that.” He dropped the class.
Many college students have to work full or part-time jobs while in school. Sometimes those jobs interfere with their academic performance. One student, who sat front and center, would always fall asleep, often snoring. One time, the hand propping up his head slipped and he banged his head on the desk. He woke up, then fell back to sleep. I finally asked him why he came to class. He said, “You take points off for skipping class.” I wanted to put a “no sleeping” clause in my syllabus, but I didn’t.
Another student carried a beeper. The first time it went off, the class collectively jumped. She dashed out of the room. The next class I pulled her aside and asked her to turn her beeper off when she was in class because both the beeper and the running out was disruptive to the 50 minute class. She said, “But I’m a single mom and my kid is always getting arrested.” Being a single mom is a full-time job, so I told her, “Okay, put the beeper on vibrate and sit next to the door.” We made it work.
I’ll be popping in every few weeks to stir things up here until Phil has had enough of my shenanigans. See you next time! And if you can’t wait for next time, you can always pop over to my blog, Lorna’s Voice, where you never know what you’ll find, but I’ll try to make you smile!