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

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  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    VishNub wrote:
    spool32 wrote:
    These folks are saying that it's sometimes impossible to give an explanation that is acceptable to both you and the other party... I think. None of them answered my question. It certainly sounded like mutually exclusive choices were the only ones available in their conception, and I do disagree with that. I don't think you need to be God's gift to communication to get across a complex idea in accurate and understandable terms.

    Again, in the context of earlier comments that presented the options as being mutually exclusive, you picked "acceptable to me", which is why I answered as I did.
    Time frame and audience are important here too. I could explain about the regioselectivity of an inverse electron demand intramolecular Diels-Alder in two sentences to my boss. . It would take an awful lot longer to someone who's never taken chemistry. And that person would probably walk out on me before I finished.

    So, I guess I disagree. I think there are some topics which cannot be explained concisely, clearly, and accurately to a layperson. Especially if the goal is to impart a level of understanding which allows the listener to understand the nuance of the topic.
    Time frame and audience are immensely important. I'm going to take the example of someone a couple months back who was doing research on cancer I think. Specifically, their study found that while common chemicals a and b did nothing on their own, if you have rare disorder c then either a or b would cause a statistically significant increase in cancer among the test population. If you want to discuss that with someone who isn't familiar with how that sort of research works on a basic level (multiple studies to confirm result, even then you may not have a casual statement, so on and so forth) you're looking at a long paragraph of explanation before you can even talk about your research. If you're dealing with a case where there is a short attention span, or if you're dealing with a case where you may be edited (ie: an interview), then you just don't have time. And that's only really dealing with covering your abstract.

    To grab another example, discussing the conflicts between quantum mechanics and relativity (and therefore the importance of future research and attempts to produce a unified theory) in any substantial depth is going to be a moderately technical discussion. More likely than not, to do it right, you first need to give a crash course in both relativity and quantum mechanics, which may mean you need to also do a quick crash course in maxwell's equations and maybe some other stuff (you might be able to hand wave this though). I can't see a way to do any of those in the rough equivalent of a half page of text, which means you're looking at covering at least a page of relatively technical text before you can even get into the subject.

    On another subject, how much work would you need to do to explain why, in a more than one sentence depth, why gen III+ or gen IV nuclear reactors are better (or not) than older designs? I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader to consider.

    edit: on CS, I think the big issue is that CS departments, CS students, and the rest of society have yet to come to any real agreement on what a CS department should be teaching. I've seen CS departments that thought the abstract mathy/sciencey stuff should wait until a masters program and that undergrad was a code monkey mill. I've seen CS students that were starting those masters programs their second year because they'd been able to demonstrate that they knew all the other materials (well, or they took the few classes they didn't have already). Society at large doesn't seem to have an idea of what the distinction between computer science and programming is. Business does seem to have a reasonable idea of what they want (either programming, or an actual need for CS (that is, the math/sciencey stuff)), but they don't really have a good way to distinguish between code monkeys and and serious CS types beyond looking for a masters degree in CS.

    We need a split between churning out programmers and churning out computer scientists. Programming probably needs to be at least a two year degree, maybe more, and should stick to languages commonly used in business (java, python, etc). CS needs to be at least a 4 year program, and only barely needs to cover languages (you need to cover one in enough depth to teach any future concepts you need, but that's it). Combining the two does no one any favors.

    edit 2: As far as acceptability goes, my metric is always: if you took the explanation I gave you, and tried it on an actual expert in the field, would they say it was close enough to correct (for non-professional use anyway)? That is, simplify the idea just until it becomes wrong, then go back one step.

    Syrdon on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    I'm glad that you already knew what you wanted to do going into whatever program you are in, but it's really not that simple for a lot of people. You can switch majors after the first year (hell, even the second sometimes) and still graduate on time without "wasting" more money.

    Depends on what switch you are talking about and on the university. It's often not as simple as you are trying to pretend.

    Yeah, if you decide you want to be an engineer (or change between engineering disciplines) that just plain is not true. If you do not start from semester one knowing you are in that major, you will almost certainly not graduate on time. The only way you graduate on time is to attend summer classes (assuming your university is large enough to offer the specific courses you need), which costs more.

    My university offered an "alternate track" that would allow a student who was not ready to take Calculus their first semester to take pre-Calculus and still graduate on time...but they lost a large part of what little elective flexibility the program has to do it. I suppose you could do the legwork and schlob some instructor knob to get some pre-requisites waived...maybe. And then you're stuck taking courses that really, truly do depend on those prerequisites without that foundation...good luck passing!

    Switching out of engineering (or, I'd imagine, a lot of other BS programs) might be easier...a lot of BA programs have enough elective options and flexibility (and few enough dependency trees) that you can enter in a semester or two "late." Your Physics and Math courses from an engineering program would transfer as gen-ed electives, and you could probably catch up without going in the summer or anything (I'm basing this off the maybe two or three BA curricula I've looked at). People have a hard enough time graduating on time even when they do go straight into engineering (took me ten semesters, but I took half-time loads before and after a deployment). Our curriculum is given to us as a flow chart that must be followed to have any chance of graduating on time (there are dependency tracks that go basically semester-to-semester from freshman year to graduation)...something I did not see from other departments.


    And all of that is assuming that getting accepted into another college at your university is all that easy to begin with, which it sometimes isn't.

  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    Quid wrote:
    shryke wrote:
    When I was in Computer Engineering, I was amazed the number of people who'd decided to do this for a living having never programmed once in their life before getting into the program.

    Isn't figuring out what you would like to do for a career part of college? I know my high school never offered actual programming courses.

    I don't think advocating spending shitloads of money to find out if you even like something you've never done before is a smart idea. Especially with Programming which is extremely hit or miss with people.

    You don't have to know alot about a subject, but you should at least know SOMETHING about it.

    This is basically why I didn't end up an engineering student like I planned: there were no introductory 'engineering' course electives that were more than free science credits for morons, and the list of pre-reqs to apply to the major program left you no almost room to do anything BUT pre-reqs right up until you applied to the major. Calc series/chem series/phys series freshman year, literally all quarters were 15 credit loads plus labs, all were requirements. Second year was something similar only the math series (diff EQ and multi var calc) were three credits and you had to take 1 programming class (or maybe 2...).

    I actually think I would have ended up an engineering student if I'd had an opportunity to reinforce that that was what I wanted to do. But instead I realized I fucking hated programming and chemistry and said fuck it since I had no idea whether or not I actually even wanted to do the engineering majors and had only intended to do them because I generally enjoyed math and science in high school.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    JihadJesus wrote:
    This is basically why I didn't end up an engineering student like I planned: there were no introductory 'engineering' course electives that were more than free science credits for morons, and the list of pre-reqs to apply to the major program left you no almost room to do anything BUT pre-reqs right up until you applied to the major. Calc series/chem series/phys series freshman year, literally all quarters were 15 credit loads plus labs, all were requirements. Second year was something similar only the math series (diff EQ and multi var calc) were three credits and you had to take 1 programming class (or maybe 2...).

    I actually think I would have ended up an engineering student if I'd had an opportunity to reinforce that that was what I wanted to do. But instead I realized I fucking hated programming and chemistry and said fuck it since I had no idea whether or not I actually even wanted to do the engineering majors and had only intended to do them because I generally enjoyed math and science in high school.

    At my university, at least, it was pretty low risk to start out in the school of engineering...at least assuming you could get into another program if you needed to switch. But the first semester or two of courses don't really lock you in; sure, you're burning up gen-ed requirements with ridiculously hard courses (compared to what you could otherwise take)...calculus, physics, chemistry, etc. But, for instance, in the EE program your entire first year you only take two credits of actual electrical engineering courses. After the second semester you'd be stacked a little heavy on science and math (beyond gen-ed requirements), but you could probably move into another department with a more liberal curriculum and still graduate on time. Maybe.

    I just looked at my department's flow chart again, though, and fuck. I actually thought I was exaggerating, but no...you really only have 30 credit-hours (of 128) total of electives. And a good chunk of those are professional electives in engineering, which come off very short lists. For your entire freshman and sophomore years, you get one elective course. Well, I mean you could stack up to 20 credits and take another if you feel the burning need, but you're not going to. But the flow chart allows a single 3-credit elective course in your entire first two years. That's all the choice you get.


    It actually makes me sad looking at that. I think I really would have enjoyed another major. But I was already old when I went, so it's not like I'm ever going back. *sigh* I mean, I'm happy I managed to get through that program, and it's certainly paying off, but it was so far from fun that it's not even funny.


    Also, everybody hates chemistry. Except maybe chemistry majors.

    mcdermott on
  • PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    At my school, your first year was math/physics/chemistry/english + electives, enough to switch into basically any faculty of science program (actually, you couldn't enter engineering without the pre-reqs, so pretty much everyone was just "undeclared BS major" in the first year). After that it was all engineering-specific courses, though I did know a guy who switched midway through to a pure math degree and it basically didn't affect graduation date so I guess at least some credits were transferable

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Phyphor wrote:
    At my school, your first year was math/physics/chemistry/english + electives, enough to switch into basically any faculty of science program (actually, you couldn't enter engineering without the pre-reqs, so pretty much everyone was just "undeclared BS major" in the first year). After that it was all engineering-specific courses, though I did know a guy who switched midway through to a pure math degree and it basically didn't affect graduation date so I guess at least some credits were transferable

    Well, again just looking at my university (YMMV) it'd be damn easy to switch from engineering to math. Math has like 54 elective credits, is only 120 credits total, and looking at freshman and sophomore year you're basically only down...two courses from the standard math curriculum if you've been in engineering? Oh, and two semesters of the physics series that engineering majors take are required courses for math as well (meaning those credits weren't even wasted on electives).

    Looks like intro to linear algebra (one of the courses missed) is part of a series, but you get all of junior/senior year to finish that series (only three courses total), so doable. Might limit your elective options in upper division math courses, but otherwise it looks like two semesters of engineering would actually put you well on your way to a math degree.

    So yeah, like I said getting out of engineering is pretty easy, mainly because most of your arts majors require less total credits, and allow a ton more electives...plus I'm guessing their pre-requisite trees aren't quite as deep, meaning you can catch up. Math and physics would be easy, for the same reason (and because you were already taking a lot of the required courses). Really, unless you're going into another major with ridiculous scheduling dependencies (education would be a good example) you should be golden.

    I imagine that this would make switching between liberal arts majors ridiculously easy for the first year or two as well. Getting accepted into another program might be an issue (depending on your grades, too) but it's not like your credits wouldn't fill slots in another graduation requirement checksheet.

    mcdermott on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Also, one thing this is leading me to believe is that we could improve higher education at least a little bit by ensuring that incoming students have just a bit more guidance entering the process. I don't know how you do that, though.

  • VishNubVishNub Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Also, everybody hates chemistry. Except maybe chemistry majors.

    We don't like it either.

    Or at least I didn't at the time. I was a lazy little shit, though.

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  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    It wasn't much different for most science programs at universities I've been to. There's just not alot of general electives in those degrees and thus not alot of room for error. I think when I did physics I had ... 4 courses of "whatever you want to take". Might have been 6 since I may have eaten a few switching majors.

  • lonelyahavalonelyahava Call me Ahava Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    i was gonna say, I don't think even the chemistry majors liked chemistry.

    and the law students weren't there because they liked law. they were there to avoid the real world for 3 more years and to learn how to be better alcoholics. (seriously, law students are like, the worst alcoholics ever.)

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    i was gonna say, I don't think even the chemistry majors liked chemistry.

    and the law students weren't there because they liked law. they were there to avoid the real world for 3 more years and to learn how to be better alcoholics. (seriously, law students are like, the worst alcoholics ever.)

    It's preparation for being coke-heads once they graduate.

  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    I... I liked chemistry? Mostly because I was only intending to do it as a minor, and could avoid organic completely.

  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Also, one thing this is leading me to believe is that we could improve higher education at least a little bit by ensuring that incoming students have just a bit more guidance entering the process. I don't know how you do that, though.

    In general improving primary and secondary education in the US would likely lead to much better higher education experiences. Being able to assume basic competency in things like writing a sentence or reading a graph, exposing high school kids to a wider variety of experiences so they have a better understanding of what they want to do and having appropriate counseling in place so that they can find the best path towards their goals would all improve college experiences.

    I learned a lot and had a lot of fun in my college classes, but I also went in knowing exactly what I wanted to get out of college. I added a second major, but it was a major I had been considering for a while and after being at college for a semester I knew I could handle the dual major.

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  • RialeRiale Registered User
    mcdermott wrote:
    Also, one thing this is leading me to believe is that we could improve higher education at least a little bit by ensuring that incoming students have just a bit more guidance entering the process. I don't know how you do that, though.

    Well, one thing that I think would help is an increased emphasis on Community College as a starting point for higher education, especially for those without a particular goal in mind. While community colleges are often scoffed at, they provide a cheaper alternative for those just starting out from highschool with no direction. Many states have a setup where a CC degree can transfer directly over to a state university and knock out the first two years of study. I think CC's provide an important 'bridge' for those who have either been out of the educational system for some time, or who are simply not yet at college level (or are worried they might not be). Attending CC for a few terms and dropping out is a lot better than wasting time at a university and racking up loans like no one's business.

    Of my circle of friends currently in college/universities, those who attended CC first definitely are more together and have a better idea of their end goal. However, that is of course anecdotal.

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  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

  • PuddlesworthPuddlesworth Registered User regular
    I know several schools, mine included, do not require freshman to declare a major at all. I guess I knew I wanted to major in math, physics, or some kind of engineering, but at least half of incoming freshman here do. I had no programming exposure in high school and am now doing computational engineering in grad school. I really don't know how I could have figured out what I wanted without having that year to explore majors.

  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

    Actually, I think it's a joke about how much more hands-off college is. High Scool is largely made up of classwork and in-class learning with a strong support network while college is all about following the study plan and generally has professors who are hard to contact.

  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

    See, any teacher who says something like that... I know they believe it's their job to prepare kids for higher education and they're being prevented from doing so. Because I mean really, a high school teacher's job nowadays is to get kids to pass standardized testing, maintain a high pass rate, keep shit from hitting fan. When you read that quote, you're reading the condescension. When I'm reading it, I read the cynicism and bitterness.

  • VishNubVishNub Registered User regular
    L|ama wrote:
    I... I liked chemistry? Mostly because I was only intending to do it as a minor, and could avoid organic completely.

    See, I hated intro organic too. But then once you get a bit further in and "get it," it becomes much more fun and interesting. This is almost exactly the same point where you stop memorizing mechanisms and start understanding what's going on.

    re: College vs High School

    I think it's just a matter of whether or not you have the self-discipline to do the work and ignore the distractions. Or if you can continue to hack it on talent alone.

    I'm not trying to be pretentious here, but despite being a top 20 school, my college was remarkably easy. May have just been grade inflation.

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  • NewblarNewblar Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

    See, any teacher who says something like that... I know they believe it's their job to prepare kids for higher education and they're being prevented from doing so. Because I mean really, a high school teacher's job nowadays is to get kids to pass standardized testing, maintain a high pass rate, keep shit from hitting fan. When you read that quote, you're reading the condescension. When I'm reading it, I read the cynicism and bitterness.

    Yeah I don't think I would blame the teachers either. The system certainly needs changing but as it stands right now a HS teacher that actually tried to fully prepare you for university would probably end up unemployed pretty quickly. In any case I'm not even sure that they could fully prepare a student as the increased workload is just one issue, not being baby sat for their courses and many students living away from home long before they are really capable of handling it seem to be larger issues.

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  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    VishNub wrote:
    I'm not trying to be pretentious here, but despite being a top 20 school, my college was remarkably easy. May have just been grade inflation.

    The way I understand it, top schools are extremely hard to get into but not that hard once you're already in them. It just doesn't do for Harvard to spend two years on a student and fail them out, depriving them of a future donor and legacy.

    The libertarian response to anything is, "Sure, that works fine in practice, but it doesn't fly in theory."
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    Well, you would also think that a good school would be good at teaching you, which would make things seem easier.

  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    It's all about the major and the profs.

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  • sanstodosanstodo Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Cervetus wrote:
    VishNub wrote:
    I'm not trying to be pretentious here, but despite being a top 20 school, my college was remarkably easy. May have just been grade inflation.

    The way I understand it, top schools are extremely hard to get into but not that hard once you're already in them. It just doesn't do for Harvard to spend two years on a student and fail them out, depriving them of a future donor and legacy.

    It's hard to fail out but the work is difficult if you want to do well. I went to an Ivy and currently teach students at a well-regarded state school. My students here have no idea how light their workloads are compared to that at my alma mater.

    There are a few reasons for this discrepancy, but one may be that students at better schools are generally smarter (there are exceptions but it does hold when comparing overall student bodies). Smarter students can complete more work, allowing professors to assign more.

    For example, one of my students complained to me that she had to read eight chapters of twenty pages each (for one hundred sixty pages total) in three weeks for one of her classes. That was usually the reading load for a single class session or at most one week at my school in the same department.

    Of course, you can skate by with minimal effort relative to your peers wherever you go. But to stand out from a pool of insanely talented and driven students requires focus and dedication (which I did not possess during my undergrad career, much to my regret).

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  • LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    sanstodo wrote:
    Cervetus wrote:
    VishNub wrote:
    I'm not trying to be pretentious here, but despite being a top 20 school, my college was remarkably easy. May have just been grade inflation.

    The way I understand it, top schools are extremely hard to get into but not that hard once you're already in them. It just doesn't do for Harvard to spend two years on a student and fail them out, depriving them of a future donor and legacy.

    It's hard to fail out but the work is difficult if you want to do well. I went to an Ivy and currently teach students at a well-regarded state school. My students here have no idea how light their workloads are compared to that at my alma mater.

    There are a few reasons for this discrepancy, but one may be that students at better schools are generally smarter (there are exceptions but it does hold when comparing overall student bodies). Smarter students can complete more work, allowing professors to assign more.

    For example, one of my students complained to me that she had to read eight chapters of twenty pages each (for one hundred sixty pages total) in three weeks for one of her classes. That was usually the reading load for a single class session or at most one week at my school in the same department.

    Of course, you can skate by with minimal effort relative to your peers wherever you go. But to stand out from a pool of insanely talented and driven students requires focus and dedication (which I did not possess during my undergrad career, much to my regret).

    I had a student make a similar complaint in a Comp I class I was teaching. It was pretty hilarious timing because I was taking a 19th C. British Novel course at the time and was able to pull out a copy of Bleak House that I had five days to read. I was like, "yeah, I understand that you think you have a lot to read, but this is what I have to read for my next class meeting. I think you can handle 20 pages in two days."

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  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

    I thought college was easier than high school, at least with my undergrad courses and my post-grad in L.A. High school to me was a constant stress-out because I had a dozen teachers wringing their hands about how tough college was going to be and how hard you had to work, . . . and it's just not true. As far as the classes go, if you're taking advanced-placement high school classes, you're ready for most undergrad work. It's the same shit. And if you're not taking advanced-placement courses in high school, maybe you should rethink that whole college thing anyway.

    There's a huge portion of students on college campuses that were terrible high school students and don't have any desire to be any more educated than they already are, but if you ask them, to a man they'll say, "Oh, well, I have to have a degree to get a good job, right?"

    Ugh.


    Honestly, the hardest time I ever had in school was my medical science degree I have in nursing. That was a tortuous 2 years, and required a ton of work and study that had to be done outside of the classroom, not to mention the 10 hours a week I spent in the hospitals doing clinical studies. All that while working 40 hours a week.

  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

    I thought college was easier than high school, at least with my undergrad courses and my post-grad in L.A. High school to me was a constant stress-out because I had a dozen teachers wringing their hands about how tough college was going to be and how hard you had to work, . . . and it's just not true. As far as the classes go, if you're taking advanced-placement high school classes, you're ready for most undergrad work. It's the same shit. And if you're not taking advanced-placement courses in high school, maybe you should rethink that whole college thing anyway.

    There's a huge portion of students on college campuses that were terrible high school students and don't have any desire to be any more educated than they already are, but if you ask them, to a man they'll say, "Oh, well, I have to have a degree to get a good job, right?"

    Ugh.


    Honestly, the hardest time I ever had in school was my medical science degree I have in nursing. That was a tortuous 2 years, and required a ton of work and study that had to be done outside of the classroom, not to mention the 10 hours a week I spent in the hospitals doing clinical studies. All that while working 40 hours a week.

    Majors that involve studio courses or math intensive majors are the exception to this, I think. My physics and math courses were far more work intensive than AP Calculus or AP Physics. Otherwise I would agree, all my other High School AP courses were more work intensive than any of my Liberal Arts college courses.

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  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    Newblar wrote:
    hippofant wrote:
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

    See, any teacher who says something like that... I know they believe it's their job to prepare kids for higher education and they're being prevented from doing so. Because I mean really, a high school teacher's job nowadays is to get kids to pass standardized testing, maintain a high pass rate, keep shit from hitting fan. When you read that quote, you're reading the condescension. When I'm reading it, I read the cynicism and bitterness.

    Yeah I don't think I would blame the teachers either. The system certainly needs changing but as it stands right now a HS teacher that actually tried to fully prepare you for university would probably end up unemployed pretty quickly. In any case I'm not even sure that they could fully prepare a student as the increased workload is just one issue, not being baby sat for their courses and many students living away from home long before they are really capable of handling it seem to be larger issues.
    My high school physics teacher actually did manage to prepare his students for college, mostly by going through about a semester and a half of college physics over the course of the year with the warning that college would be a little harder but not much. He's on the record for responding to a suggestion on how he should run his classes with (approximately) "I have two degrees from Stanford, and I'm willing to work for 28,000 a year. If you don't want to let me teach the course my way, I'll find someone who will." I get the feeling that if a high school teacher is not willing to play a card like that one that they're going to have their hands tied in how they teach their class, and as such will be completely unable to prepare their students for college. If someone actually assigns that amount of work the parents complain to the administration until the administration caves, if they make sure the class goes through information at the same pace, the parents complain again. If the student does poorly on the standardized test because the parents got the course neutered, the parents also complain about that. As such, I have a solution: shoot the parents.

    If you seriously want to fix higher education though, the first place to start is in fixing high school, which may mean that you actually need to start in grade school. The first step is being willing and able to demand that the parents take part in their kid's education, or expanding the school day enough that the school can take over that role from them. The second step is fixing curriculum so that kids graduating high school are actually prepared for college (ramp up to the course load over 4 years, or at least get close). For that matter, if you're willing to up the course load from maybe third grade on, you can probably knock a semester or two off of college for everyone graduating from your district. You also need to stop teaching to the standardized tests, or spend a month or two teaching how to beat the tests if you're stuck with them.

  • HamurabiHamurabi AmsterdamRegistered User regular
    AP English was definitely tougher than English Comp 101 and 102 -- but then, I took all of my lower-division elective credits at a community college, so ymmv.

    It's kinda disconcerting when your chosen major / path in life is something less vocational. I'm an International Relations major right now, after switching from Journalism to Marketing to HR. I feel like this is definitely the major / career track for me, though, and I'm committed to seeing it through to a Master's. The disconcerting part comes in when I look at my major requirement outlines; it's sixty credits total of upper-division (junior + senior years of undergrad), but only 36 of those are major-specific. The rest are random electives, though they recommend pursuing a minor with those "free" 24 credits. The IR program (at least at my school) seems kinda thrown-together.

  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    Yeah, it annoys me that the biiiiiig joke teachers always tell high school students before entering college is, "Oh ho ho, high school students always go to college thinking it will be like high school. And then they fail out of their first semester because they don't know how to pass a college course! Oh ho ho!"

    Sometimes they'll throw in, "You've got to study 3 hours out of class for every 1 hour in class" or something to that effect, but it's not enough, and it seems odd to me that people joke about how under-prepared high school graduates are for higher education when it's your job to make sure they're prepared for higher education.

    I thought college was easier than high school, at least with my undergrad courses and my post-grad in L.A. High school to me was a constant stress-out because I had a dozen teachers wringing their hands about how tough college was going to be and how hard you had to work, . . . and it's just not true. As far as the classes go, if you're taking advanced-placement high school classes, you're ready for most undergrad work. It's the same shit. And if you're not taking advanced-placement courses in high school, maybe you should rethink that whole college thing anyway.

    There's a huge portion of students on college campuses that were terrible high school students and don't have any desire to be any more educated than they already are, but if you ask them, to a man they'll say, "Oh, well, I have to have a degree to get a good job, right?"

    Ugh.


    Honestly, the hardest time I ever had in school was my medical science degree I have in nursing. That was a tortuous 2 years, and required a ton of work and study that had to be done outside of the classroom, not to mention the 10 hours a week I spent in the hospitals doing clinical studies. All that while working 40 hours a week.

    I took AP classes in high school as well as the college "gifted and talented" English course (we called it Phoenix. It was really the Read 5 Pages of the Book and Bullshit Your Essay Power Hour). I took 2 semesters of Biology, Physics, Chemistry, all that jazz.

    In Biology, for instance, the teacher gave us the tests with the questions and answers jumbled around before we got the real test. The lowest test grade was dropped. This was AP Bio. If you phoned it in, you'd get an A- at worst.

    My college Biology I (majors, non-AP) course was a fucking terror. I focused on it almost exclusively to the chagrin of my other professors and still counted myself lucky to get a B. The lab was especially heinous. We had 3 practicals over the course of the semester, each of them 100 fill-in-the-blank and short answer questions. Things like, "Look in the microscope. What is the genus of this organism? Now how about the phylum of this one? Here's a pin stuck in a reproductive organ on a random animal that you have a picture of somewhere in your lab manual (we're not telling you which one, and it's not one that we went over in class or lab time); what's the organ?"

    Students were outside the lab room literally weeping. I got close to it myself. I would wake up at 9 AM on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and study for those practicals all day long, until I went to bed, and when it came time to take the test on Tuesday I was never any more sure that I was going to get a good grade than I was on Friday. Who knows what they're going to test you on this time? Have fun, fuckers!

    So while I agree that it may be a YMMV sort of situation, things like Organic Chemistry or higher level math classes are pretty much objectively tougher than anything you do in high school.

  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    So while I agree that it may be a YMMV sort of situation, things like Organic Chemistry or higher level math classes are pretty much objectively tougher than anything you do in high school.

    I agree. There's nothing in the science fields that high school can adequately prepare you for, which is mostly what my tortuous Nursing degree's emphasis was.

    "Your patient presents with a carbon dioxide level of 18 and clubbed fingers. What is an appropriate oxygen saturation level for this patient, and what can the expected diagnosis be?"


    There's no AP Biology for that question.

    Atomika on
  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    Moridin wrote:
    Majors that involve studio courses or math intensive majors are the exception to this, I think. My physics and math courses were far more work intensive than AP Calculus or AP Physics. Otherwise I would agree, all my other High School AP courses were more work intensive than any of my Liberal Arts college courses.

    I disagree, I most definitely believe that high school classes can prepare you for college math and science courses. I double majored in Bio and Physics and still felt like my first two years of college were a joke. Yeah, there were some harder classes eventually, but I definitely learned more in my senior year high school classes than in my freshman bio and physics classes. I took AP BC calc and it was two semesters of college math in two semesters of high school - except that when I got to college and took the third semester of calc (multivariate) I realized that my high school teacher had covered a decent chunk of that semester as well. We still had homework and there were recommended problems to go with each day of class, but the homework got handed in on the morning of the exams and was graded on completeness not correctness in an effort to teach us to be self-motivating. In my high school zoology class (better prep for med school anatomy than anything I took in college) there were written exams and practical exams and the practical exams were pins stuck in an organ and then second order questions ie you have to know what it is and something else about it as well. You had 30 seconds at each station and moved around the room.

    Just because most high schools don't prepare students for college level math and science courses doesn't mean that they can't. I do realize that my experiences are not typical. I spent a decent amount of time arguing with the biology major advisor at my university with them telling me that I couldn't possibly have done in high school what I did in fact do in high school.

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  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    Kistra wrote:
    Just because most high schools don't prepare students for college level math and science courses doesn't mean that they can't. I do realize that my experiences are not typical. I spent a decent amount of time arguing with the biology major advisor at my university with them telling me that I couldn't possibly have done in high school what I did in fact do in high school.

    Exactly. I don't know why so many undergrad programs treat the first two years of college like high school remediation.

    Also, I don't know why so many undergrad programs do a lot of shit in the first two years, but my guess is, "for the benjamins."

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Yeah, my experience was that 1st year University was mostly a retread of Grade 12/OAC in an attempt to get everyone on the same page. Some people's schools were shit. My school was really good so it was all "review".

    Although it depended on the high school teacher really. I had math teachers who taught us, basically, 1st year university. And some other teachers, in Physics I remember, who obviously had no idea what they were doing and didn't cover anything of what we were really supposed to.
    Exactly. I don't know why so many undergrad programs treat the first two years of college like high school remediation.

    To make up for the shitty high school many of your peers went to. They need to establish a baseline so they can actually teach people. Without that, you get massive failure rates.
    Also, I don't know why so many undergrad programs do a lot of shit in the first two years, but my guess is, "for the benjamins."

    ??? Most first and second years are pretty laidback and easy. It's only in the upper years, in my experience, that they start hammering you with difficult shit.

    shryke on
  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    Yeah, my experience was that 1st year University was mostly a retread of Grade 12/OAC in an attempt to get everyone on the same page. Some people's schools were shit. My school was really good so it was all "review".

    Although it depended on the high school teacher really. I had math teachers who taught us, basically, 1st year university. And some other teachers, in Physics I remember, who obviously had no idea what they were doing and didn't cover anything of what we were really supposed to.

    But that goes back to my earlier point of so many people going to college without taking preparatory classes in high school. Why go?

    And to the colleges, why pander to those underperforming students?

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    shryke wrote:
    Yeah, my experience was that 1st year University was mostly a retread of Grade 12/OAC in an attempt to get everyone on the same page. Some people's schools were shit. My school was really good so it was all "review".

    Although it depended on the high school teacher really. I had math teachers who taught us, basically, 1st year university. And some other teachers, in Physics I remember, who obviously had no idea what they were doing and didn't cover anything of what we were really supposed to.

    But that goes back to my earlier point of so many people going to college without taking preparatory classes in high school. Why go?

    And to the colleges, why pander to those underperforming students?

    What preperatory classes? I mean, you take all the required courses, but that doesn't ensure the people in them learned what they needed or learned it properly. It's not like there's some magical, super-secret extra classes out there for the real students.

    And they "pander" to them because they make up a huge part of the student body and because if you actually want to teach these kids, you need to do it. Otherwise you've lost 75% of the class within a few days. And once you are that far behind, there's not really any coming back for most of them.

    1st year, they establish a baseline. Because they have to.

    shryke on
  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    But that goes back to my earlier point of so many people going to college without taking preparatory classes in high school. Why go?

    And to the colleges, why pander to those underperforming students?

    $$$$$$$

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Fine, then, make those kids take an extra year of remediation. Those that are prepared can graduate in four, the rest can take five. Why waste the smart kids' time?

  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    Yeah, my experience was that 1st year University was mostly a retread of Grade 12/OAC in an attempt to get everyone on the same page. Some people's schools were shit. My school was really good so it was all "review".

    Although it depended on the high school teacher really. I had math teachers who taught us, basically, 1st year university. And some other teachers, in Physics I remember, who obviously had no idea what they were doing and didn't cover anything of what we were really supposed to.

    But that goes back to my earlier point of so many people going to college without taking preparatory classes in high school. Why go?

    And to the colleges, why pander to those underperforming students?
    Because people want to better themselves and most colleges feel it is their job to actually teach people things?

    The idea that because someone did not take preparatory classes in high school or had a couple crappy teachers should exclude someone from a university education would exclude many people, primarily the poor and underprivileged.

    I do not think someone who finally decides they want to get an education should be punished because they made stupid mistakes when they were 12 or 14 and got into a crappy high school instead of a good one. Many state universities (in California at least) actually partner with community colleges to have them do this kind of catch up for some students before they start attending.

    Additionally, getting all 1st years through the same curriculum before attempting higher level courses is probably a better indication of who will be able to attempt the core courses for a degree compared to testing or grades or whatever criteria you would use to exclude those from shit schools.

    He's a shy overambitious dog-catcher on the wrong side of the law. She's an orphaned psychic mercenary with the power to bend men's minds. They fight crime!
  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Fine, then, make those kids take an extra year of remediation. Those that are prepared can graduate in four, the rest can take five. Why waste the smart kids' time?

    Uh, you know there are tests one can take in high school to prove you know what is in the courses and will count for credits in many colleges for most 1st year courses?

    He's a shy overambitious dog-catcher on the wrong side of the law. She's an orphaned psychic mercenary with the power to bend men's minds. They fight crime!
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