Thursday, August 7, 2008

Where We Continue Our Study of the Species.

Smarty Snowflake - These 4.0 pre-med/pre-law student are anxious rather than pushy. They are mostly polite young people who have been driven to uncivil behavior by competition for spots in the professional program of their choice and by their parents'--and their own--high standards. An A- will cause a full-scale panic attack. Equipment advisory: soothing music, herbal tea, empathy, zen-like ability to wait it out.

Sweaty Snowflake - Athlete Snowflakes are similar to Smarty Snows, but at a lower academic level. Sweaty needs to get a C, sometimes a D, in your course to maintain team eligibility or a scholarship. The Sweaty Needs-an-A subspecies must get an A in your course to compensate for Fs in other courses. Desperation can make them whiny, but nowhere near the level their coaches can achieve. Equipment advisory: crystal-clear syllabus, email reminders, steely gaze or frosty email tone, documentation.

Precious Snowflake - Mommy's and Daddy's Child Who Could Do No Wrong grew up and went to college. Precious is special, with easily hurt feelings, intellectual potential that can be unlocked only by the most telepathic teacher, and a heaping helping of attitude. Often has natural dramatic talent. Precious is attended by a helicopter parent whose role in life is to defend Precious against the melting powers of the cruel world. Be prepared for frowns, smiles, rolled eyes, sighs, and flouncing out of rooms when things are going well--and an email from your dean when they are not. Equipment advisory: Ability to keep a straight face, direct gaze, time, steady nerves, elephant skin.

Super-dense Iceflake - Throughout the semester, this negotiator will pester you with long, detailed arguments about quiz questions that are worth one-half of 1% of the course grade. Telling them directly that they need to choose their battles will result in a blank stare and a re-set of the quiz argument to its starting point. Equipment advisory: Slow, steady explanation of basic math and social skills. Repeat. Repeat.

Emotional Snowflake - Emo has issues that are small and special, like exquisite jewels, and are very, very deeply felt. Emo wants to meet with you, but it's never a good time. If pressed, Emo will write you a long single-spaced letter or an email full of run-on sentences detailing the struggles. This student may shape up after this ritual, but may stay home and submit a paper written for a different course. A few will become your new grateful shadows. Equipment advisory: Tissues, patience, half-listening skills, boundaries.