I Don't Need You to Like, Carry Me Around and Stuff
Twelve years ago, I started working as a graduate assistant for the department of freshmen orientation. (Although I think the term "freshmen" has been determined to be politically incorrect. I believe the politically correct term is "first year student." But I'm too lazy to type that out so on MY blog, "freshmen" it is.) The freshmen orientation semester-long course is required for graduation. Then (and now) I thought it seemed like a pretty good idea. You see, student retention then (and now) was ridiculously low. And all kinds of Very Important Research shows a strong link between good freshmen orientation programs and high(er) retention. However. Telling an 18-year-old that she or he "needs" to do anything does not go over well. Because, remember? When you're 18, you know everything and you REALLY don't need people to like, carry you around and stuff.
The director of the orientation program was kind enough to let me work for her during the summer (because being an unemployed graduate student - surprisingly - doesn't pay very well) and every summer, the phones ring off the hook. Incoming freshmen (and ironically, their parents) would call in by the hundreds, telling us why they didn't need to complete the orientation requirement. Typically, it had to do with their tremendous level of maturity and knowledge. A wee sampling of those calls:
Me: Orientation Department. May I help you?
Incoming-soon-to-be-pregnant freshman female: Yeah, like, um, hi? My boyfriend has gone to Moron U. for two years now, and I've been up visiting him every weekend since I was a sophomore in high school (at this point, blood starts pouring out of my mouth - I have literally bitten through my tongue because I successfully prevented myself from saying, "If your parents aren't DYING to be grandparents, they're not very smart") so I don't need to take the orientation class because, I like, know where everything is and stuff.
Me: I see. So then, you're familiar with our 18-floor-library.
FF: Well, I like, know where it is and stuff. After all, it is the tallest building on campus. I can see it from boyfriend's apartment.
Me: Uh-huh. So then you know how to find everything you need, because the orientation course includes a major component on using the library.
FF: Um, ye-ah. Like, who doesn't know how to use a card catalogue.
Me: That's interesting, because the library uses multiple databases for journal articles; I don't think a card catalogue has been seen for a quite some time now.
FF: Well, like I can find magazines and stuff.
Me: Also interesting, because my hunch is most of your professors won't find magazine articles acceptable scholarly sources.
FF: I'm sure I can figure it out.
Me: Okay, what about, say, applying for freshman forgiveness. Could you do that?
FF: Oh yeah. That's like, where your roommate kills herself and you automatically get a 4.0, right?
Me: Again, interesting, but not exactly.
FF: Look. I really, really don't need to take orientation, okay? Like, do you need my mom to call or something?
Me: No, I think that would actually have the opposite of the intended effect. You're probably going to have to take the course, regardless of how long you've been coming here.
FF: That's SO lame. That's going to be, like, a total waste of my time. I TOLD you, I'm not one of THOSE freshmen who like, needs a tour and stuff. I KNOW where everything is.
Me: Well then, maybe you can assist your orientation instructors. Maybe you can, like, be their assistant and stuff? You can help all THOSE freshmen - maybe you can, like, carry them around and stuff.
FF: Do you get more credit hours for that?
Me: Yeah, I don't think so.
On a completely different note, you know you're REALLY old when you see a 10-year-old boy riding his bicycle down the street while TALKING ON HIS CELL PHONE!!!!