Nice Try But No Cigar

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A former student who is now a resident assistant in her dormitory invited me to come and speak to some of the students about end of semester portfolio tips during one of their social events a little bit ago.  Though the event was at 7:30 in the evening on one of my longest work days, I agreed to it.  I was really pleased to see my student again, as she was one of my first generation college students a few years ago.  And it’s a good thing to do, not to mention I can put it down in my portfolio narrative as “service.”  Whoo-hoo!  While this activity is a “good thing to do,” it’s a shame the university committees aren’t so recognizing of plenty of other volunteer work done in the community.  I can help run parents’ meetings for the Boys and Girls Club, help out in food banks, tutor people, you name it; but it doesn’t count if it’s not somehow explicitly tied to my university and my job.  They define “service,” usually, as “university committee meetings.”

So anyhoo, I show up just before start time walking through campus and I notice how warm it is that night.  Unseasonably warm weather usually means very poor student turn out, and such was unfortunately the case for this event.  Not a single soul showed up, all preferring to go out elsewhere in skimpy duds, I suppose.  I left my student a copy of what I was going to present as a handout and headed home.  Outside the frat houses were absolutely blaring their music.  One group even had a megaphone and some sort of siren going.  The noise was practically deafening.  I can’t imagine trying to sleep through it, though I suppose I’m old enough now to worry about such things.

I never realized just how much of a party school we were until I tried to get back to my car. I was right in the middle of campus, and the frat houses ringing the campus were incredibly loud.  I think they pretty much get a nuisance party citation, pay it out of their dues, and do it all again the next day.  Everywhere people were headed out, some clearly already drunk.  I’ve never really been on campus during these times.  I’ve either been in class or already at home.  Watching some of the girls wobbling down the sidewalk at about 8:00 was kind of…scary.  And sad.  And apparently preferable to popping into your carefully planned activity at your resident faculty leader’s little pad.  They were supposed to have a game of some sort and my little presentation.  Given this was just past midterm, many of them probably should’ve been sitting through my fun and short presentation … THEN going out to wobble down the sidewalk on a Wednesday evening.

Sigh.  It’s getting harder and harder to pull students into any event like this, no matter how well designed and fun it seems, even if you offer free food.  They’re just not interested.  If you don’t compel them to come by dinging them with loss of points or something, they don’t show up.  It would be one thing if they didn’t later on in the semester complain and whine about how there just isn’t any help here on campus, and somehow that is responsible for the sad state of their final grades.  The worst are the seniors who complain they aren’t prepared to enter the job market while simultaneously ignoring every single presentation and service the Career Center offers over the course of their time here.  They even do mock interview sessions and they bring all kinds of companies to campus.  But good luck getting the majority of students who need such help or contacts to take advantage of them.

I walked to my car thinking “Sigh, Nice try BG, but no cigar.”  And then I realized that’s exactly what life is going to say to the kiddos who don’t take advantage of these services now but feel entitled to better grades or jobs later.  Nice try, honey.  But no cigar.

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