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Higher Education - How can we make it suck a little less?

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  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    I'm signed up for five courses in the fall (which apparently now is the threshold for "full-time" enrollment at my uni, up from four courses / 12 credit-hours). The textbooks are $562.00; financial aid is only giving me a $312 advance on my Pell Grant. :\

  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Parental Unit RemulakRegistered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Honestly, i almost think we need to completely decouple students from their families when means testing for financial aid. If it means we hand a few trust fund babies a few grand, oh well... I've known too many people who got fucked because their parents (who looked good on paper) either grossly mismanaged their money or were just dicks.

    And if they have a trust fund that would be the student's asset anyway... Just an aside.

    But I just can't agree with screwing eighteen year old kids (technically adults) because their parents have money. It's not like we base their taxes on parental income, why the hell base financial aid on it.

    I agree with this 100%. My dad was making six figures and so I was ineligible for any aid, but I was still expected to work my way through college, but not allowed to take out any loans or even apply for scholarships. You can guess how well that worked out.

    It wasn't until I got married that I decided to go back to school, and this time I got the aid I needed, and I'll be a grad in a year. Such a difference, not having to worry about paying for food and your water bill while you're attending.

    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I get by on the knowledge that I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time mucking about inside of my asshole anyway
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    You know, I'm rather torn about the humanities issue.

    On the one hand, I do agree that philosophy, political science, history, etc., when taught properly, give one a wider world view and better reasoning process. Mind you, it's not the only way of doing that (math and logic courses in the sciences achieve it as well, although in a different way and applied to different issues). But it is a valid field of study.

    On the other hand, what do you do after? I mean, there are not exactly a lot of employment opportunities for liberal arts grads these days. And if you're going to go tens of thousands of dollars in debt to study something, don't you want to get your money back at some point thanks to it?

    But that argument is also a slippery slope to the conclusion that market forces should dictate what we teach in university, that we should focus on programs that lead to profitable careers right now. And that's a completely wrong position. Universities aren't meant to train workers, they are meant to train the educated, thinking class.

    Which leads right back to humanities being a valid field of study that leads you to thinking and reasoning at home with tens of thousands of dollars of debt for life.

    RichyFlag.gifsig.gif
  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Parental Unit RemulakRegistered User regular
    Well, all those data entry positions who require a BS/BA just to pare down their list of candidates would love to have a Humanities major, I'm sure. If you're going to require four years of higher education just to get your foot in the door, I don't think they'll be picky about what your degree is in.

    I bet you can work your way into some pretty nice PR jobs as a Manatees major as well. All that time studying people, you're likely social, or else you would have gone into Anthropology.

    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I get by on the knowledge that I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time mucking about inside of my asshole anyway
  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    Richy wrote:
    But that argument is also a slippery slope to the conclusion that market forces should dictate what we teach in university, that we should focus on programs that lead to profitable careers right now. And that's a completely wrong position. Universities aren't meant to train workers, they are meant to train the educated, thinking class.

    Higher education should not be a vocational school, period.

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Hamurabi wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    But that argument is also a slippery slope to the conclusion that market forces should dictate what we teach in university, that we should focus on programs that lead to profitable careers right now. And that's a completely wrong position. Universities aren't meant to train workers, they are meant to train the educated, thinking class.

    Higher education should not be a vocational school, period.

    Med school, law school, nursing school and engineering school would like to have a word with you.

    RichyFlag.gifsig.gif
  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Honestly, i almost think we need to completely decouple students from their families when means testing for financial aid. If it means we hand a few trust fund babies a few grand, oh well... I've known too many people who got fucked because their parents (who looked good on paper) either grossly mismanaged their money or were just dicks.

    And if they have a trust fund that would be the student's asset anyway... Just an aside.

    But I just can't agree with screwing eighteen year old kids (technically adults) because their parents have money. It's not like we base their taxes on parental income, why the hell base financial aid on it.

    I agree with this 100%. My dad was making six figures and so I was ineligible for any aid, but I was still expected to work my way through college, but not allowed to take out any loans or even apply for scholarships. You can guess how well that worked out.

    It wasn't until I got married that I decided to go back to school, and this time I got the aid I needed, and I'll be a grad in a year. Such a difference, not having to worry about paying for food and your water bill while you're attending.

    Rich people scare me.

    steam_sig.png
  • hippofanthippofant Registered User regular
    Richy wrote:
    Hamurabi wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    But that argument is also a slippery slope to the conclusion that market forces should dictate what we teach in university, that we should focus on programs that lead to profitable careers right now. And that's a completely wrong position. Universities aren't meant to train workers, they are meant to train the educated, thinking class.

    Higher education should not be a vocational school, period.

    Med school, law school, nursing school and engineering school would like to have a word with you.

    Yeah, that's a fairly naive perspective. How could it not be "higher education" when it takes 16+ years of schooling to enter a certain vocation?

  • PaulSquaresPaulSquares Registered User
    Cantido wrote:
    Rich people scare me.

    You may have Chrometophobia

  • SavdecSavdec Registered User
    hippofant wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    Hamurabi wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    But that argument is also a slippery slope to the conclusion that market forces should dictate what we teach in university, that we should focus on programs that lead to profitable careers right now. And that's a completely wrong position. Universities aren't meant to train workers, they are meant to train the educated, thinking class.

    Higher education should not be a vocational school, period.

    Med school, law school, nursing school and engineering school would like to have a word with you.

    Yeah, that's a fairly naive perspective. How could it not be "higher education" when it takes 16+ years of schooling to enter a certain vocation?

    It's a silly demarcation to make. A better answer is: higher education doesn't need to be vocational school.

    On the debt thing from above: If you are a perspective humanities student, you need to ask yourself this question. Will you personally be okay with what this degree from this school will give you after you finish? If you're just going to shit your way through school, maybe paying 50k for that liberal arts college isn't for you.

    NOTE TO INVADING ALIENS: Avoid this town. (Like this town avoided us.)
  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    Hamurabi wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    But that argument is also a slippery slope to the conclusion that market forces should dictate what we teach in university, that we should focus on programs that lead to profitable careers right now. And that's a completely wrong position. Universities aren't meant to train workers, they are meant to train the educated, thinking class.

    Higher education should not be a vocational school, period.

    Med school, law school, nursing school and engineering school would like to have a word with you.

    Yeah, that's a fairly naive perspective. How could it not be "higher education" when it takes 16+ years of schooling to enter a certain vocation?

    Fair point.

    I should've clarified: undergraduate studies should not be strictly vocational. Half the point of college, it seems to me, is to figure out what you want to do in life. If you're not served the widest possible array of options, you're being cheated out of possibilities.

    That said, fuck math requirements for lower-division work. >_<

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    I can't speak for other disciplines, but an engineering undergraduate education includes general engineering courses, as well as general science, math, sociology, economics, language, writing, and a bunch of general studies electives. You don't really specialize until the third year of this four-year degree.

    While I agree that first-year undergrads should be exposed to a wide array of courses because they are still too young and inexperienced to know exactly what they want to do and it would be wrong to strictly pigeon-hole them right off the bat, you have to balance that with the fact that each degree has specific requirements that must be achieved, learning the material you need to achieve them takes time, and there's a limit to how many courses a student can take at once. It is impossible to give students both a specific degree and a grand tour of human knowledge in four years. Choices must be made - either start focusing the curriculum from year one, or make undergraduate studies 6 to 8 years long.

    RichyFlag.gifsig.gif
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    There are plenty of careers for people who work in the humanities. The big problem is that nobody TELLS you about them. My English degree and the skills I developed while obtaining it make me a darling wherever I work. Everyone just assumes "teacher" because even the damned schools assume "teacher."

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  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    Richy wrote:
    I can't speak for other disciplines, but an engineering undergraduate education includes general engineering courses, as well as general science, math, sociology, economics, language, writing, and a bunch of general studies electives. You don't really specialize until the third year of this four-year degree.

    While I agree that first-year undergrads should be exposed to a wide array of courses because they are still too young and inexperienced to know exactly what they want to do and it would be wrong to strictly pigeon-hole them right off the bat, you have to balance that with the fact that each degree has specific requirements that must be achieved, learning the material you need to achieve them takes time, and there's a limit to how many courses a student can take at once. It is impossible to give students both a specific degree and a grand tour of human knowledge in four years. Choices must be made - either start focusing the curriculum from year one, or make undergraduate studies 6 to 8 years long.

    The way I've always seen it done is to split a Bachelor's into two years of lower-division / "core" work and two years of upper-division / "major" work. Seems to solve the problem pretty neatly, imo -- though I don't know how well that works for a highly technical degree.

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Incenjucar wrote:
    There are plenty of careers for people who work in the humanities. The big problem is that nobody TELLS you about them. My English degree and the skills I developed while obtaining it make me a darling wherever I work. Everyone just assumes "teacher" because even the damned schools assume "teacher."

    Then please tell us about them. What kind of careers did your English degree make you a darling for? I honestly want to know.

    RichyFlag.gifsig.gif
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Hamurabi wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    I can't speak for other disciplines, but an engineering undergraduate education includes general engineering courses, as well as general science, math, sociology, economics, language, writing, and a bunch of general studies electives. You don't really specialize until the third year of this four-year degree.

    While I agree that first-year undergrads should be exposed to a wide array of courses because they are still too young and inexperienced to know exactly what they want to do and it would be wrong to strictly pigeon-hole them right off the bat, you have to balance that with the fact that each degree has specific requirements that must be achieved, learning the material you need to achieve them takes time, and there's a limit to how many courses a student can take at once. It is impossible to give students both a specific degree and a grand tour of human knowledge in four years. Choices must be made - either start focusing the curriculum from year one, or make undergraduate studies 6 to 8 years long.

    The way I've always seen it done is to split a Bachelor's into two years of lower-division / "core" work and two years of upper-division / "major" work. Seems to solve the problem pretty neatly, imo -- though I don't know how well that works for a highly technical degree.

    Doesn't work well at all. I'd you're not ass deep in math and science day one, you don't complete an engineering degree in four years. You may not specialize within your discipline for the first couple years, but you definitely are on a heavy science/engineering track right off.

  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    TheOrange wrote:
    Actually, a lot of the end of the curiclum Math courses are applications of previous courses, not to mention that almost every research team on campus will have a math major on the list.

    Depends on the school. For instance at the place I went to "applied linear" was actually "theory for applied linear" and not "lets apply what we learned". That was the only "end curriculum" applied course (for undergraduate) that I got to take (other was ind study in graph theory/difference equations w/ focus in dynamic systems). Most of the other "end curriculum" courses were either pure theory or similarly focused on theory and not applications

  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    mcdermott wrote:
    Hamurabi wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    I can't speak for other disciplines, but an engineering undergraduate education includes general engineering courses, as well as general science, math, sociology, economics, language, writing, and a bunch of general studies electives. You don't really specialize until the third year of this four-year degree.

    While I agree that first-year undergrads should be exposed to a wide array of courses because they are still too young and inexperienced to know exactly what they want to do and it would be wrong to strictly pigeon-hole them right off the bat, you have to balance that with the fact that each degree has specific requirements that must be achieved, learning the material you need to achieve them takes time, and there's a limit to how many courses a student can take at once. It is impossible to give students both a specific degree and a grand tour of human knowledge in four years. Choices must be made - either start focusing the curriculum from year one, or make undergraduate studies 6 to 8 years long.

    The way I've always seen it done is to split a Bachelor's into two years of lower-division / "core" work and two years of upper-division / "major" work. Seems to solve the problem pretty neatly, imo -- though I don't know how well that works for a highly technical degree.

    Doesn't work well at all. I'd you're not ass deep in math and science day one, you don't complete an engineering degree in four years. You may not specialize within your discipline for the first couple years, but you definitely are on a heavy science/engineering track right off.

    Well there you go.

    As an aside: they're (read: the GOP in Congress) talking about cutting funding for Pell Grants to some extent. I understand that places like U. of Phoenix are running questionable academic programs that rely almost entirely on Pell Grant funds, but why not punish the possible abusers specifically, and not everyone who relies on government assistance for their education?

    Hamurabi on
  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    Look, I know data entry for the English grad blah blah blah, but you guys do realize that the hard sciences/engineering/computer science departments are a fraction of the student population and by extension the working world, right?

    Every professional that isn't a specialized field comes from either the humanities, soft sciences or business. They're like the majority of the degrees granted, the majority of the world's professionals (sales, marketing, executives, administration, managerial, design, education, non-profits, small business owners, etc). Outside of college, most of the pegs fall away, and the majority of the world's businesses have staffs made up of people from wildly diverse educational backgrounds.

    You are basically making the brilliant deduction that the majority of people who are not you are somehow suckers, because... I guess... you make a lot of money as an engineer, or something. Since the statistics quoted on this thread prove differently - college students across the board have a much lower unemployment rate than those with trade school or no advanced degree. The very inability of a lot of people on this thread to understand what this statistic does to their argument kind of points to the need for a humanities degree.

    There's also the question of how limited you social circle must be for you not to know someone with a humanities degree and a decent job. Do they lock all you techies and engineers in a closet where you work, or something?

    Go mingle at the Christmas party!

  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    Hamurabi wrote:
    As an aside: they're (read: the GOP in Congress) talking about cutting funding for Pell Grants to some extent. I understand that places like U. of Phoenix are running questionable academic programs that rely almost entirely on Pell Grant funds, but why not punish the possible abusers specifically, and not everyone who relies on government assistance for their education?

    Those cuts aren't about policing the private trade schools. They're about the fact that Tea Party considers Pell Grants to be welfare:

    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/174253-house-conservatives-angry-over-pell-grant-funding-in-boehner-debt-bill

  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Hamurabi wrote:
    Richy wrote:
    I can't speak for other disciplines, but an engineering undergraduate education includes general engineering courses, as well as general science, math, sociology, economics, language, writing, and a bunch of general studies electives. You don't really specialize until the third year of this four-year degree.

    While I agree that first-year undergrads should be exposed to a wide array of courses because they are still too young and inexperienced to know exactly what they want to do and it would be wrong to strictly pigeon-hole them right off the bat, you have to balance that with the fact that each degree has specific requirements that must be achieved, learning the material you need to achieve them takes time, and there's a limit to how many courses a student can take at once. It is impossible to give students both a specific degree and a grand tour of human knowledge in four years. Choices must be made - either start focusing the curriculum from year one, or make undergraduate studies 6 to 8 years long.

    The way I've always seen it done is to split a Bachelor's into two years of lower-division / "core" work and two years of upper-division / "major" work. Seems to solve the problem pretty neatly, imo -- though I don't know how well that works for a highly technical degree.

    Doesn't work well at all. I'd you're not ass deep in math and science day one, you don't complete an engineering degree in four years. You may not specialize within your discipline for the first couple years, but you definitely are on a heavy science/engineering track right off.
    Hamurabi wrote:
    As an aside: they're (read: the GOP in Congress) talking about cutting funding for Pell Grants to some extent. I understand that places like U. of Phoenix are running questionable academic programs that rely almost entirely on Pell Grant funds, but why not punish the possible abusers specifically, and not everyone who relies on government assistance for their education?

    Those cuts aren't about policing the private trade schools. They're about the fact that Tea Party considers Pell Grants to be welfare:

    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/174253-house-conservatives-angry-over-pell-grant-funding-in-boehner-debt-bill

    I felt like their utter disregard / disdain for the disadvantaged went without saying.

  • hippofanthippofant Registered User regular
    Goumindong wrote:
    TheOrange wrote:
    Actually, a lot of the end of the curiclum Math courses are applications of previous courses, not to mention that almost every research team on campus will have a math major on the list.

    Depends on the school. For instance at the place I went to "applied linear" was actually "theory for applied linear" and not "lets apply what we learned". That was the only "end curriculum" applied course (for undergraduate) that I got to take (other was ind study in graph theory/difference equations w/ focus in dynamic systems). Most of the other "end curriculum" courses were either pure theory or similarly focused on theory and not applications

    Different unis have math faculty that specialize in different areas. I find it often seems to be dependent on which other departments are big-name at that uni.

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    God, how did I not notice this topic before?

    My first step: Stop the stupid required credits bullshit. If I'm gonna be a psychology major, make me take only the classes relevant, and that's it. Stop pumping me for more money, give me the education I need for what the fuck I want to do, and that's that.

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  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Henroid wrote:
    God, how did I not notice this topic before?

    My first step: Stop the stupid required credits bullshit. If I'm gonna be a psychology major, make me take only the classes relevant, and that's it. Stop pumping me for more money, give me the education I need for what the fuck I want to do, and that's that.

    Yes, it's a little-known fact that universities commonly employ those psychics from Minority Report to know exactly what the future career path of each individual student will be, determine the exact minimal set of courses that student needs for that career, and then fill up the curriculum with random crap just for laughs.

    RichyFlag.gifsig.gif
  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Richy wrote:
    Yes, it's a little-known fact that universities commonly employ those psychics from Minority Report to know exactly what the future career path of each individual student will be, determine the exact minimal set of courses that student needs for that career, and then fill up the curriculum with random crap just for laughs.

    There's also the fact that you are a psychology major. Knowing a bit more about how the world works might help you a bit.

    If nothing else, take electives that might feed into your major. Or minor in something that could provide another route to employment, should the whole psychology thing work out.

    Phillishere on
  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    Richy wrote:
    Yes, it's a little-known fact that universities commonly employ those psychics from Minority Report to know exactly what the future career path of each individual student will be, determine the exact minimal set of courses that student needs for that career, and then fill up the curriculum with random crap just for laughs.

    There's also the fact that you are a psychology major. Knowing a bit more about how the world works might help you a bit.

    If nothing else, take electives that might feed into your major. Or minor in something that could provide another route to employment, should the whole psychology thing work out.

    Enough people have no idea about how the world works outside of their little sphere of professional and personal interests that I feel making them take, say, Intro to Nutrition or Intro to Sociology is inherently a good thing.

    I copped out of my math requirement for an AA by taking two sequences of Pussy Math (read: Math for Liberal Arts I and II), and while I just barely scraped by by cramming for tests using study guides, I did actually learn some fairly interesting things about how elections work and how counting systems apart from base-ten work.

    Fuck logic tables, though.

  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    I think that the major problem with electives is that most subjects are not taught in a way that makes introductory classes valuable.

    Introductory Econ? Worthless. Possibly even counterproductive.

    Ideally we should be teaching introductory courses as philosophy courses combined with history courses. Because history is probably the only thing you can possibly understand well without a firm grounding in the theory and philosophy behind it.

    We spend a lot of time teaching people facts about those introductory courses when we should be teaching them how to identify facts within those introductory areas.

  • TheOrangeTheOrange Registered User regular
    Introductory Econ that I took assumed perfect knowldge to all the populace, instant demand vs supply changes, and no dead wieght from taxes. But I wouldn't go as far as to say counterproductive it gave me some starting point to read on my own, I doubt I could do that without the intro.

  • CptKemzikCptKemzik Registered User regular
    Goumindong wrote:
    I think that the major problem with electives is that most subjects are not taught in a way that makes introductory classes valuable.

    Introductory Econ? Worthless. Possibly even counterproductive.

    Ideally we should be teaching introductory courses as philosophy courses combined with history courses. Because history is probably the only thing you can possibly understand well without a firm grounding in the theory and philosophy behind it.

    We spend a lot of time teaching people facts about those introductory courses when we should be teaching them how to identify facts within those introductory areas.

    Yes, this. The reason why "intro to," classes can easily turn into crap is because certain professors/adjunct instructors are lazy and just make each class a powerpoint presentation of bullet points that students write down and then regurgitate for exams (or apply towards the labs). This issue is compounded when they're posted online anyways, cause then it encourages students to either a) not go to class outright (this happened to me with a crappy intro geology course that i got a D+ in), or b) just copy down notes without actually *thinking* about what they're writing down and why it's important that the prof is talking about them. Then all they can do is just keep cramming the bullet points into their head after the fact before exam time.

    Granted larger intro classes can usually only manage to evaluate students with a standardized exam, but the method of teaching the material doesn't have to be as rote and standardized like a lot of them end up being.

  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Parental Unit RemulakRegistered User regular
    edited August 2011
    CptKemzik wrote:
    Goumindong wrote:
    I think that the major problem with electives is that most subjects are not taught in a way that makes introductory classes valuable.

    Introductory Econ? Worthless. Possibly even counterproductive.

    Ideally we should be teaching introductory courses as philosophy courses combined with history courses. Because history is probably the only thing you can possibly understand well without a firm grounding in the theory and philosophy behind it.

    We spend a lot of time teaching people facts about those introductory courses when we should be teaching them how to identify facts within those introductory areas.

    Yes, this. The reason why "intro to," classes can easily turn into crap is because certain professors/adjunct instructors are lazy and just make each class a powerpoint presentation of bullet points that students write down and then regurgitate for exams (or apply towards the labs). This issue is compounded when they're posted online anyways, cause then it encourages students to either a) not go to class outright (this happened to me with a crappy intro geology course that i got a D+ in), or b) just copy down notes without actually *thinking* about what they're writing down and why it's important that the prof is talking about them. Then all they can do is just keep cramming the bullet points into their head after the fact before exam time.

    Granted larger intro classes can usually only manage to evaluate students with a standardized exam, but the method of teaching the material doesn't have to be as rote and standardized like a lot of them end up being.

    Unfortunately I get fucked in both of those worlds, because my professors make attendance a mandatory, graded thing. So it isn't like I can skip class, memorize the bullet points and take the exams. Those kinds of classes are such fucking time sinks. I feel like I'll never get that time back.

    Speaking of which, fuck professors who take this to the extreme and read straight from the slides they've posted online in a boring, monotone voice during class with no expounding whatsoever while making me a captive audience by holding my grade hostage via attendance scores. Fuck those guys.

    joshofalltrades on
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I get by on the knowledge that I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time mucking about inside of my asshole anyway
  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    All this gripe about general credits is really foreign to me because I was able to fulfill pretty much all of them through AP credit.

    I realize the availability and quality of AP courses varies widely, but I think something like this could really be headed off if more attention were paid to students in High School.

    sig10008eq.png
  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    Moridin wrote:
    All this gripe about general credits is really foreign to me because I was able to fulfill pretty much all of them through AP credit.

    I realize the availability and quality of AP courses varies widely, but I think something like this could really be headed off if more attention were paid to students in High School.

    There's some truth to this. The one thing I hear consistently from European students is that the first two years of American college are a bit of a waste, as they took this material in high school or the local equivalent.

    The major difference here, and in Asia, is that those countries have national education systems. Our hodge-podged system of local school boards, property taxes and random state/federal mandates is not that effective at pumping out students for the 21st century. Hell, they were struggling to pump out the students the 20th century needed towards the end.

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