Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Very Important Business

Once a month, the advising center offers a Saturday session, so these crazy-busy recent high school grads can come in and do their schedules. This Saturday was one of those, but I was busy with not-so-Bridezilla Laci. Apparently, I missed quite the spectacle.

The student advising center is filled with computers. Some of them are for the incoming students to take their placement tests. We use a software that has a really ridiculous acronym like DUMASS - Dedicated University Matriculation And Scheduling System. After students take their DUMASS tests, then they go over to the "real" academic advisors who have a whole different set of computers to make course suggestions. And then the poor students finally come to the undergraduate students who find open sections of the recommended courses and then they come to me. I register them for classes and then tell them to get the hell out of my sight!

On Saturday, one of the students wandered out of the designated waiting area and plunked herself down at a DUMASS computer. I guess she was there for quite some time until one of the undergraduate workers, Stephanie, approached her. That conversation went like this:

Stephanie: Did you need someone to put together a schedule for you?
Student on DUMASS: Well, I'm busy right now, but you can come over here and wait for me.
Steph: I can't create a schedule on that computer. It doesn't have the right software. You have to come by me.
SOD: I'm in the middle of very important business right now. I'm instant messaging my cousin. It'll have to wait.

Poor Stephanie was so perplexed, she ran to get the advising center director. I can't blame her. I would have been beyond speechless, too. The director of the advising center told the soon-to-be-freshman that she wasn't even supposed to be on that computer and that schedules were, in fact, created over on the other side of the center. I guess the student with the very important business was not swayed. She had, you know, her very important business. She and her cousin, it would seem, were in the middle of planning that night's party.

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Yesterday, on my way back from lunch, I saw another freshman who had busted out of line and plunked himself down in an empty cubicle and he was just playin' some Solitaire. Part of me wanted to give him a good smack to the back of his head and part of me wanted to just run away and pretend I didn't see anything. Of course, because I'm spineless, I did the latter. But as I find myself asking more and more each day: What the hell is wrong with these kids? In what world is it okay to walk over to someone else's workspace, into someone else's cubicle and plunk yourself down to start playing Solitaire? Are you THAT incapable of waiting (at your new school, no less) for 15 minutes, by yourself, with no one to talk to and nothing to read? Are unattended computers today's water fountains? It's there, it's clean, it's operational. Clearly, it's for me.
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As I may have mentioned once or twice, I'm getting old. Or at least I must look like it. Today, one of the freshmen sat down and before I could say, "Hi, how are you?" she said, "Can I ask you a question?" I said yes. "Okay, like, does everyone here have to take a foreign language?" I didn't know. "What did your advisor say?"
Now let me back up: College academic advisors are literally highly trained people who also happen to have the patience of saints. None of the academic advisors has anything less then a master's degree in counseling or higher education administration. People go to school for a long time to get these jobs (although, personally, after the past two and a half weeks, I have no idea why.) Me? I am a cog. A grunt. A plebeian. You wanna talk about your genital warts? I'm all yours. But foreign language requirements? What the hell do I know? But I digress.
She rolled her eyes at me, as if to say, "You know - advisors." But she said, "My advisor said everyone in the College of Arts and Sciences has to take a foreign language, but I didn't think that sounded right." I just looked at her. Sounded right to me. "Um, no, I think she's right. That's why she signed you up for Spanish I." Why this kid thought I had something resembling power is beyond me. "Well, I don't want to do that. I won't. So, you don't have to sign me up for it." I signed her up for Spanish as I was instructed. "You need to listen to your advisor," I said, handing the schedule back to her. She just shook her head. "I'm pretty sure she's wrong." Twenty bucks says that two years from now, I'm blogging about her in my class.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

And you've hit it, the number one thing about students that not only drives me absolutely crazy, but seems to be a generational thing. The whole not being able to wait thing? Sends me right into my "these kids today" mode. I blame Barney. And DVDs in minivans. And portable games. And crazy parents who never just...have...them...sit. And play quietly. Mind their own business. Pray, maybe? Or think (ha!) Just be. It's like they have no stand-by mode. It's either do something or hibernate. What is that?!

June 06, 2006 7:53 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

What I want to know is what rock did this girl crawl out from under that she didn't think she had to take a foreign language in college??? I thought it was common knowlege. But, then, I think people should not presume so much as to help themselves to unattended computers in a university setting.

June 06, 2006 10:26 PM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

My favorite part: "...but you can come over here and wait for me." Seriously? No, SERIOUSLY? Wow, how generous of her. Especially since she was "in the middle of important business" and all.

These kids you blog about just ... blow my mind. Yes, I said kids, and I'm only 25. But damn, they make me feel like I'm from another era altogether. Do people not bring books to read in waiting rooms anymore? Do they not realize it's called a waiting room for a reason? You sit your ass down, and you wait, kids.

June 07, 2006 8:02 AM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

Once again we see another example of that "the world owes me" attitude. I guess all I can hope for is that I have been able to instill a little more humility in my children than that. I bet she's gonna be a little upset when she finds out she can't get her degree with out that foreign language she doesn't want to take.Here's a joke I heard the other day: They took a poll of Americans, they asked if people thought immigration was a major issue. here are the results:

47% said: Yes, it is an important issue.

53% said: No Hablo Ingles.

June 07, 2006 9:37 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

I'm with Lauren. I can't tell you how many times I've seen children playing video games in a restaurant.

For this very reason my kids do not have a TV in their room. Their game time is limited and they must always ask permission first.

Parents need to tell their kids, "Get outside and blow the stink off ya!" much more often than they do.

June 07, 2006 10:31 AM  
Blogger Kristy said...

It's this material that drew me to your blog initially -- and keeps me coming back. Blows my mind. Depresses the hell out of me. Frightens me beyond words. Makes me want to cry. All of it.

Of course, if you were truly saddened and miserable about all of this -- I could also claim I get a good dose of schadenfreude from it all as well...Glad *that's* not the case.

June 07, 2006 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the above comments - I am appalled at the behavior of kids (and I mean up to 18 or 19 years old - I'm 36 and if you're 18, you're a kid to me!) today. When I went to college, only about 15 years ago, we WAITED our butts off in line for classes, so we went with a friend, took a book, etc. - no online registration, etc. Not take a foreign language? Uh, yeah, you ARE. And you MAY have to take a class on Friday.....or at 8 am. God forbid!

June 07, 2006 7:06 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Where do I begin with this one. I agree with everyone about the no waiting thing. It drives me crazy when I go home and my nephew is up in his room the whole weekend playing his video games. I had video games when I was growing up but I was more interested in playing outside. You know the "old fashioned" kick ball games, riding your bike, fishing at the pond, etc. On the whole foreign language thing, I didn't have to take on in college. If I had received a BA I would have but not for a BS. I was however required to take two years in High School.

June 08, 2006 8:30 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

I don't think I HAD to take a foreign language in college, but I wanted to. In this day and age, you really SHOULD learn to speak another language. It's just good common sense. People are morons though.

June 08, 2006 9:18 AM  

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