"Favorite" conversations with students

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Accents are fantastic measures of intelligence and potential. Glad you got this loser pegged so quickly.


A daughter of the south

Quote from: marigolds on September 12, 2013, 11:15:42 pm

Accents are fantastic measures of intelligence and potential. Glad you got this loser pegged so quickly.


A daughter of the south

I'm sorry. I did not mean to come off as disparaging of the accent. I meant only for the accent to be descriptive. FYI I have a southern accent as well. It was the absolute cluelessness, seriously more than standard undergraduate confusion.

Well, Biopsy, you have a choice:

1) You can write off someone interested as not worth your time based on one contact.

2) You can mentor someone who is interested and see where some discussions go.

I'm at a small school because I tend to choose path 2.  In fact, most of my advising load are the students who enter with a vague plan: I should go to college and get a job; I hear a lot about STEM, so I'll declare a biology major.  One of the most interesting parts of my job is having the conversations with students who are unclear on what's required, but who are willing to show up to talk about possibilities.

Sometimes, those conversations result in filing paperwork to get a major changed as students get more information.  

Sometimes, those conversations result in explicit instruction on what is required to go to doc school of all kinds because no one else has ever explained it and graduate school/medical school/other professional school is not at all like getting into college.

Occasionally, those conversations result in a very disheartening talk where I cannot help someone who refuses to accept that not all dreams can come true if someone simply wants it enough.  However, those conversations are rare enough that I go with having the talks instead of immediately writing off clueless people who show an interest.  If I had hundreds of students clamoring for my time, then I'd choose differently.  With the handful of students I have, I have lots of time to talk with anyone who has the slightest interest in something that overlaps with what I do or what I know.

I had one of those - an online student.  He had a 2.4 GPA, had not earned higher than a C in any upper-level course in my field, and had zero talent for writing or research.  (I think he just barely passed his senior capstone.)  The only reason his GPA was as high as it was was that he'd taken a whole bunch of survey courses.  (The curriculum at this school was canned and it was well below what should be expected of a college student.)  He wanted to get into my PhD program (which has an acceptance rate of around 6%).  His customer service rep (non-faculty) advisor was egging him on.  Not only that, but he was interested in one of the most over-saturated subfields in my discipline, which (if he'd taken 30 seconds to look at the website), he'd have seen was not offered by my PhD program.  Since this school had a customer service mentality, I wound up burying him with information, including what sort of GPA and GREs he'd need to be competitive.  He wasn't all that bright, but maybe...just maybe he figured out that it wasn't going to happen.

--(Pointing towards name plate outside my door as I turn the key in the lock) I would like to see this professor.
--Yes, What can I do for you?
--Are you this person?
--Yes (door creaks open, retrieves keys).
--I'd like to sign up for the major.
--(Pointing towards the two signs that list office hours, none of which were held that day) These are my office hours.  When would you like to come back?
--(Spends ten minutes loitering before deciding on a time.)
--Great, I'll see you then.  (Shuts door and weeps softly.)


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