This is the second in a series (???) dealing with college. The first one, whose title I had misplaced mentally (Senior Moment?) was about the Freshman Fifteen, which I my case was a negative Twenty-Eight. This one is based on an article my colleague Chad Orzel published in Forbes [Link] entitled “Four Things You Should Expect To Get Out Of College” The four are:
I’ll address each in turn.
Subject-Specific Knowledge: This one strikes me as self-evident. Except possibly to GEN Ys who seem to be only concerned with making grades, getting course completion ticket punches, and grasping that bit of (ersatz) sheepskin. As I’ve mumbled many times college was a wonder to me because for the first (OK, maybe second) time in my life I wasn’t imprisoned in an information deprived environment. What’s amazing is that I didn’t stay in that environment and that’s a matter of its evil side. And my master’s adviser who was more interested in giving speeches to the faculty senate instead of mentoring or teaching.
Learning Skills: This one I identify with. I’ve mentioned several times how the public schule system of Nawth Alibam’s Shining CIty on the Hill did such a stercus job of preparing me for college. Heck, I couldn’t even take notes. I didn’t know how and no one taught me. I am now entertaining the conjecture that no one of my “teachers” knew so they were in the boat of most contemporary “teachers” who know how to teach but nothing to teach. But I also have this other conjecture that the schule administrivia thought it was obvious and simple.
Happily, I got some help from a kind upper classman and that coupled with my own problem solving abilities got me where I am today. No thanks to the Huntsville Schule System. Which also failed to teach me how to compose. The term papers and essays I had to write were ad hoc and totally untaught. And stercus. I learned to write the same way I learned to take notes. Except in this instance it was lab reports.
Adult-ing Skills: Chad sez this is about “managing time and activities outside of a purely academic context” and that makes some sense although I see it as more of a survival skill than a maturity skill. I also learned this the hard way. I got into a wonderful information rich environment for the first time since I was four years old and learned to read, and ended up being the victim of entropy. When I ended up with one-something GPA the first semester I woke up and analyzed my situation, implemented my analysis, and made Dean’s List second semester.
I think part of Chad’s take on this is that college students, the go off kind, are in a self-discipline/reliance by themselves mode for the first time in their lives when they go off to college. So they need to prepare for this – something else my parents and the schule system missed – and be prepared to learn, Which was something I was and did, and now look back at that first semester failure as the start of adulthood. But not from the standpoint of managing self that Chad talks about so much as from the standpoint of doing a real world, consequences are mine, analysis, implementing the results, and thereby building confidence in my abilities. And that latter is the victory.
Personal Relationships: To me, this is the adulting bit. This is part of the go off thing. When you are in college the teachers are not going to rescue you nor are your parents handy. You have to handle your own relationships and stay alive and seemingly free. This is the hard thing for INTROs. EXTROs have different problems but they don;t have to solve them, just hide. INTROs can’t run away because they are already away and any intrusion is a challenge. Heck, parents are a love-hate relationship from conception on for INTROs.
Analysis isn’t very helpful with this because most people are EXTROs and they are bat-stercus crazy. Also mean and evil and have numbers on their side. So personal relationships for INTROs are mostly about pain control. And that can only be learned from pain. I enjoy summer term most. Much more dense informationally. Also less entropy and distraction. The campus was fairly empty and in those days one could go out on the Quad at 0200 and not be beset by the security polezei as a terrorist plotter. Great INTRO environment. Except for classmates and whatever berserker assigned as a room mate in dorm, an INTRO only had interaction desired and initiated. And no GREEKs or JOCKs to terrorize you.
Personal Relationships is something you have to learn for yourself and it’s continuous. But college is when you need to learn it because by the time you have a career job it’s too late and you will be a failure. That’s the INTRO mistake, too often. Learn to control those EXTROs or they will crush you.