Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Little Rant

I have been knitting lately, I swear. The problem is that I've been so overwhelmed by school that the only thing I can handle is garter stitch scarves and other accessories. These things don't make for great photos. I actually took a couple, but decided they belonged with a post titled: "Look Ma, My First Scarf!" So, I icksnayed the photos and decided to rant about something that has been bothering me.

At school, we've been assigned a ridiculous amount of homework. If I worked outside for school for more than 15 hours per week, it would be impossible for me to get it done. In all of my classes, I have been assigned projects that take in excess of 20 hours each all due around the same time and all within 2 weeks of being assigned. In addition, each class continues to assign homework, which takes a couple of hours as well. Many of the people that I go to school with work full time. In fact, I might be the only one who doesn't. So, we had one of these enormous projects (which by the way was also incredibly difficult) due yesterday, and several people weren't able to finish. They went and pleaded their case to the professor, stating that they work full time. One guy who did get his done had to call in sick to work two days in a row.

The professor is a new hire for SDSU and he comes from Brown University. I'm sure it's a great school and all, but I can only imagine that the student that attends Brown is quite different from the student who attends SDSU. For most of the people who attend SDSU, there aren't any parents paying tuition, rent, books, etc. Pretty much everyone is on their own as far as that goes and most people have to work to get through. SDSU also caters to older students and the MS program for Aerospace Engineering caters to people who are working, supposedly. That's why all graduate classes are offered after 5 p.m.

So, anyway, the professor's response is that, while he appreciates that they work, work isn't as important as school and they shouldn't be working at all while they're going to school. They should be going to school full-time. He also felt the need to say that if this class was taught at Brown, it would move twice as fast.

Another one of my professors chastises people for being late to class even if they're coming from work. He says that if they were late to meetings at work, they'd get fired, so they should treat class the same way.

Both of these professors come from Europe, where it is my understanding that very few people attend college and, for those that do, it is very affordable or free. People in middle to lower middle classes can't attend college. I may be wrong about that, but this is what I've heard. Obviously this isn't true in the States where, thanks to the community colleges and state universities, a college degree is attainable by pretty much everyone. However, most students have to work to get through. I feel like both of these guys are completely unjustified in their beliefs that school comes first over a job that pays your bills, puts food on the table, clothes on your back and a roof over your head. It makes me really angry on behalf of these people who struggle just to get through. It's a very un-American attitude, in my opinion. In this country, work is very important and people work extremely hard. It seems very elitist to criticize them for doing it. It makes them, in the words of my esteemed blogmate, Ivory Tower Jackasses.

There. 'Nuff said.


Anonymous Kirsten said...

The guy from Brown is an elitist, ivory-tower tool. I hope the affected students are complaining to administration--clearly this guy is not living in the real world. Sheesh.

Also, the shawl a couple of posts down is beautiful!

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Cora said...

What a jerk!!
My MPA profs at SDSU were so accomodating for those of us that worked.
Have they talked to the administration or at least the head of the program? I would because SDSU does pride itself on offering further education to working adults.

11:58 AM  
Blogger wenders said...

I agree - while in grad school I sat on a board that heard complaints like this - any chance your school has a similar resource? I think telling students that they've made a 'wrong' choice about priorities, which is what this prof is doing in saying nothing is as important as school, in unreasonable in a program clearly designed to attract working students. Perhaps the prof needs a little economics lesson in understanding where his salary comes from? I can almost guarantee that if your school only had full-time, non-working students, you wouldn't be able to attract enough people to keep the lights on. ;)

3:23 PM  
Blogger Jessimuhka said...

I had similar problems when I was at UCSD, although usually from American Profs. I'd show up late to class or have to attend a different discussion session because I'd gotten caught at work. I finally had it out with a Prof who wanted to require a paper be turned in in person on a day our class didn't meet in an office open 9-5. He told me school should come first, blah, blah. I responded I couldn't afford school if I didn't work, etc. I finally took it to his department head and got to turn in my paper via email, but it was a giant ordeal.

I think it's just a part of the academic snobbery that can be part of college. Every professor thinks his/her class should be your #1 priority.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Juti said...

Dr. Brown University is a new hire? He's untenured? You have the upper hand. Put your situation in writing.

Get out your catalog (from the year that you declared your major), which is essentially a contract between you and the university. Find where it says that SDSU is committed to serving working students. Quote this part in your letter to the department chair and the dean. Be sure to offer specific examples of where this prof has "broken" the contract. Be dispassionate and clear, and you will make your point.

You also have the student evaluations at the end of the semester to make your voice heard. Departments really do read them, and they are used while considering a professor's tenure and promotion. Evaluations scare the dickens out of the untenured.

If Dr. Brown University doesn't amend his teaching strategy, then the possibility exists that he won't be tenured, and if a budding prof is turned down for tenure it's hard to continue in that career path.

Higher education isn't supposed to be a walk in the park, but it's also not supposed to be impossible for reasonably determined people.

Sign me, "Aztec Alum" who got two great degrees from SDSU while working her way through!

12:52 PM  

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