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.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It's Really Just Psychology

I love my new hair stylist. Have I mentioned this? Love. her.

Because I am so annoying fascinated by other people's jobs, I asked her about a million questions when she tackled my terrifying root problem on Thursday night. She told me about one of her continuing ed classes, which was called something like, "The Psychology of the Chair." Psychology of the Hair would have worked just as well for a title, I think, but nobody asked me.

Apparently, the instructor told my stylist and all the other stylists that when you have a new client come in for a consult, if s/he cannot figure out what s/he wants within the course of a 10-minute conversation, it is time for your calendar to suddenly become full-to-bursting. You are not accepting any new clients - sorry, but you just realized that right this very second.

"What's the logic?" I asked, completely intrigued. "Well," she replied, "Someone who cannot decide on a haircut or style within 10 minutes of discussing it will never be happy with anything you do. Ne-ver. With anything. And I learned that years ago and never forgot it because it is 110% true." Now I was absolutely hooked. "Really? It's that simple? You can tell if someone is going to be a huge pain-in-the-ass within 1o minutes!? That's a miracle!" She shook her head. "Not really. Don't you think that's true in life in general?"

I thought about it. I realized that I know a lovely business woman who owns a catering company and has managed to determine in a single consult if a bride will ruin her life and somehow then steers the bride to another caterer.

My advisor told me last spring, after about my third or fourth run-in with Inappropriate Sister (do I really have to link to her?) I should have expected it. "Why?" I asked, again mystified by things that people seem to know that I don't.

She has been teaching college for 30 years. "Didn't you tell me that she e-mailed you the first week of the semester, begging you to add her brother to the class?" This was true, I had made the fatal mistake of adding her brother to my roster. Then she (Inappropriate Sister, not my advisor) traipsed in late the first day of class and then spent the remaining minutes of class giggling and talking with her brother until I gave her the stink-eye and finally, the verbal bitch-slap.

But how did my advisor know that would happen? Here was the Yoda-like answer: "I have found - fair or not - that students who have problems at the very beginning of the semester - just getting into the class - will be a problem all semester long. I know it seems harsh, but it always seems to work out that way. Now, when my class is full and someone is begging me to add them, I just say no. It's never worth it in the long-run. It's basically a fool-proof way to determine who is going to drive you nuts all semester long with an endless array of problems and issues."

I thought about this today because when I opened my e-mail I had about a three paragraph plea, explaining some kind of problem, begging me to let her into my (already closed) class. The semester hasn't even started. Ordinarily, I would just e-mail her back and write, "Sure, no problem. People usually drop anyway - not a big deal." But then I thought about my very recent conversation with my hair dresser. And my not-so-recent conversation with my advisor who has been doing this a helluva lot longer than I have. And now? Not so sure . . . I will you keep you posted.

On a similar note, anybody else in education or any other field have a "fool-proof method" for determining if a student/client/customer is going to be a nightmare? I find this stuff fascinating!



Blogger Fraulein N said...

Oh! I love this theory. I bet it's true more often than not.

January 08, 2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger Shawnee said...

So true! I screen prospective tenants & approve builders & other contractors for the company. Without fail, if they are late returning the paperwork or have issues with any of the steps within the approval process (in other words, can't seem to follow simple instructions), they are going to be a PITA if they do eventually get approved.

If I were you? I would consider Inappropriate Sister a learning experience & not let this new student sign up late. Although she would probably supply the rest of us with entertainment in the weeks to come!

January 08, 2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

De-lurking to say hello!

I think you should let her in just to test out the theory.

January 08, 2007 3:24 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Ca said...

With us, the longer it takes a client to respond to an email, the more obnoxious they are going to be in the long run. We have one client that takes about a month to respond to emails and every time we have a conference call they make me want to bang my head into something. The correlation between response time and obnoxiousness holds true every time so far.

January 08, 2007 3:52 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

The type of pain in the ass that bothers me the most (because, really, everyone is a pain in the ass in their own way) is the one who thinks he/she is very smart. The one who emails you to point out how smart he or she is. The one who likes to correct your math for a half a point. The one who is in your (much smaller) first section this semester and emailed you Christmas day to inquire about his grade, and hells if you're answering him till Thursday!!

Oh, sorry. Anyway, I like to think it's in my Pisces nature to be intuitive- it also works with my friends and their girlfriends. I always will know if she'll break his heart, and no one ever believes me until it happens. I'm learning how to deal with several different types of pains in the ass with experience, but I try not to underestimate anyone's potential to really mess up my semester.

January 08, 2007 4:47 PM  
Blogger saintseester said...

Same goes for students who ask on the first lab day of class, "is this going to be part of our grade?"

January 08, 2007 6:53 PM  
Blogger Dr. Delaney Kirk said...

Years ago I was teaching a summer class that met for six weeks. I had a student contact me after the first week was over begging to get in. According to him, he only needed the one class to graduate so that he could take a job in another state. In a moment of niceness, I agreed but told him he had to make up all the assignments by the next class. He didn't. I talked to him again and give him an extension until the next class. He missed the next class and didn't call. The class after that he showed up but without the homework assignments. I kicked him out of class. He begged, cried, and pleaded but I was done. Somewhere in California is an employee one class shy of his degree.

January 08, 2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger Antique Mommy said...

Yes. I do some interior design work and my test to see if the client will be a PIA is to check and see if they are breathing. If yes, then yes.

January 09, 2007 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Experience has taught me that the ones who walk into my office and talk to me like I am specifically there to serve them...they are going to be trouble.

So is anyone who asks for any special privilege(s) over and above what they would normally get.

Experience has also taught me that the ones who are grateful for the opportunity to live here are going to be my favorites.

January 09, 2007 11:32 AM  
Blogger Just another student said...

I might be the PITA.....

Started the year getting arrested (mass civil resistance, war protest, blah blah blah... ) this has lead to pretrial hearings and canceled pretrial hearings and etc.... and to top it off, I begged the chem prof to let me into chem 150, even though I hadn't taken chem 140, but the much easier chem 101 instead... and then on the day class began I went to him and nearly chickened out. Took up a good ten minutes of his time. I didn't ask him what to do, just sort of babbled out a pile of stupid fears. Stayed in the class though. So far so good. There's folks in that class who DID take 140 and are way more unprepared than I am...

Of course, the lab portion of chem means I can't make it to my psych class 1 day a week, so that prof is assigning me other work to make up for it....

Damn.... I am the PITA...

They seem to like me, though......

January 09, 2007 11:17 PM  
Blogger Peach said...

actually i just enrolled for some classes at my local JC. I'm a full time working mother and I have NO CLUE about anything involved with a college. So when he said a few classes were full (the counselor) he told me to just show up on the first day and "hope" they will fit me in. I wont do it, but if I did, its not because I have issues or I'm lazy...i was just given some crappy direction.

January 10, 2007 12:15 PM  
Blogger Samantha said...

When I worked in a shop, I never knew who would buy and who wouldn't, but my boss always knew. Sadly, I left before I ever figured it out!

January 10, 2007 4:26 PM  

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