Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Student Reader Gives Us Some Perspective On the Grooming And Behavior Patterns of the Typical Undergrad.

I was one of the narcissistic, self-absorbed college students that graced hallways of a major university not long ago, and I find it completely interesting how many academic professionals feel harshly about students' habits or traits - mainly attire.

As a post-grad, I do understand the importance of dressing to succeed and understand that one's wardrobe can speak for them, but these are young kids still. They are completely and utterly naive. And excited. And away from home for the first time (for the most part). Most of their parents were probably so strict and over-bearing that you can't really blame these students for going "ape-shit" over having the first real freedom of their lives.

Is their attire to your 8:00 a.m. class really that detrimental to their learning? Yes, we want people to shower, not wear the same shirt from the previous night's bar, and of course, taking 5 minutes to change from PJ pants into jeans won't kill them. But they aren't going on an interview; they are there to learn. Yes, studies show those who dress the part learn the part, I give you this.

What do you think we as students were thinking about you, "crazy life-size-ceramic-apple-necklace lady"? Or what about that professor that comes in without shaving underneath her arms, refuses to wear deodorant and absolutely loves shirts with no sleeves (black only of course). Really, no deodorant? We are in a very small room in a class like that. We might giggle about your attire on our own, but for the most part many don't judge your teaching ability on it. The T.A. that came in everyday, took off her shoes, sat cross-legged on her desk and told us all to get comfortable so we could really talk and get to know what's going on was perhaps my favorite educator of all, I learned the most with that barefoot girl who was no more than 5 years my senior.

Remember, many are scared. The bully in fifth grade that shoved kids in lockers? They were acting out on their own personal inner turmoil. Many of these kids are thrown from being the top of their high school class, or perhaps from a school of 250, into a world of 20,000 students where for the most part, their academic leaders don't care. They are scared and on the other hand thrilled to no longer have mom and dad breathing down their neck.

These are the last four years that young adults have to party it up and enjoy life to its utmost extent - their only responsibility being themselves and their education. Sometimes it just takes a minute for them to find a balance for both. You do get tired of throwing-up, I promise, and I know many of you have been there... I had some pretty cool teachers through my years, I've heard the stories; you can't fool me!.

I am not defending the bad apples. I've seen them, I've hung out with them and I've pretended to think their antics silly behind the scenes while knowing they were wasting valuable time and energy (not to mention thousands of dollars) and would only hurt themselves in the future. Keep that in mind. The girl with the unruly curly hair who doesn't listen to instructions, give her the zero; but remember, eventually THAT is a lesson in its own. Eventually it will continue to happen until "no listen, bad; listen, good" gets into her brain. The guy that drinks all night and can barely keep his head off his desk? Send him home - he'll realize it may not be the best idea as his grades fall.

This is a time of social growth as well as academic. I grew more socially, mentally and academically in my four years than I did throughout any other period. And remember, that their rough exteriors are often hiding a soft, scared center. Those first two years are tough - for everyone. You have every right to moan - I know, we don't make your lives that easy - but know that everything you do does teach us in one way or another.

Of course, if all else fails, you can still come here and bitch. Good luck this semester.