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regentrude

Who gets to graduate? (article)

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What a wonderful project!  Reminded me about my experience in Chemistry 102 - for Pre-med students. First day, the esteemed professor announced that 50% of the students will fail this class. What great news for an 18 year old in her first semester of college.

I got a B on the midterm/  I went to the academic support department and got tutoring.  The tutor showed how to do a problem and then asked me to solve it. While I tried to solve it, he chatted with another tutor, I never got a problem right with him and he didn't realize that he needed to be more attentive and supportive. He was getting $10 per hour to chat and look down at me. 

 

I wasn't a remedial student but definitely I had little academic related support at home.  My confidence dwindled and I ended up unofficially withdrawing from the course by not showing up for the final. Later on I chose computer science and did well. I ended up taking Geology and Astronomy for Science credits and had wonderful teachers. At graduation, I had mostly A's and B's on my transcript and the nice dean removed my unofficial withdraw turned 'F'.  It's been 27 years and I still remember the face of the arrogant chemistry professor. Sometimes, I wonder that I could have become a doctor or pursued something else in the healthcare field if there had been a support system in place.  Oh well...I am just glad that there are programs now.

 

btw, on the tutoring front, I tutored all through college and was much more attentive and supportive. One bad tutor had taught me how not to be one.

 

shamima

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 But I am angry how high school here short-changes not only the gifted, but even the moderately smart students by not giving them the oft of struggle and challenge.

 

 

I think it's a serious indictment of a high school when a student with a 50th-percentile SAT score and no study skills is in the top 10% of her class. :(  It's great that colleges are working with these kids, but I would like to see this addressed at the secondary level.

 

I went to a rather mediocre high school and came from that bottom economic quintile, but I was sufficiently well prepared academically that I could focus on the economic problems of attending college as needed.

 

This is the ultimate issue being seen all over. 

 

I went to a very good high school.  There are other very good high schools out there.  Kids work, are challenged, and top kids do well on the SAT/ACT.  They head off to college that fit their scores and find themselves in those 400 or so students (in that class) getting As & Bs.  Many consider their freshman classes at state schools or lower to mid level private to be quite easy to be honest.  (BTDT - state school)

 

Then there are average high schools - like where I work.  Top students are NOT challenged.  They get As and Bs, but with absolutely no effort on their part.  They think learning is easy - they can do it.  What they don't realize is the bar is LOW, so of course it is easy to step over.  They don't even have to jump.

 

Their first sign should be those low SAT/ACT scores.  Top 7% students should regularly have top 7% scores (allowing for the occasional outlier).

 

Can these kids do better?  Who knows?  The bar was never raised, so how in the world can we know just how high they can jump?

 

Having worked with thousands over the years, MANY can jump so much higher than the low bar, but they don't know the bar is low.  They only know stepping over is so simple they can do it without effort.

 

Everyone tells them how great they are and they believe it.

 

Then they go to college and meet those from the good high schools - those who have that better math/science/English & more foundation and suddenly, they feel overwhelmed.  There needs to be some really quick learning going on, but some, rather than working for the first time ever, simply feel discouraged.  They might put forth half an attempt to jump, but they seriously don't know how.

 

If that learning curve doesn't come, these kids return home.  I see it year after year after year - esp when they go to large schools.  Smaller schools can be better at shepherding students, but sometimes, even smaller schools don't work as the student just feels overwhelmed at how much they don't know compared to their peers.  Then too, there can be social issues, and all those "freshman year" temptations with options for clubs, sports, and more.  To be honest, drinking gets some, but not the majority that I've come across - more get too involved in other things, then use them as an escape from the overwhelming feeling of being lost in class.

 

It's that overwhelming feeling that causes many to skip homework and/or class.  They are lost trying to do the homework.  They feel lost sitting in class.  Getting help is novel to them and it can be difficult to take that first step - esp early enough to make a difference.

 

THEN, my high school is average according to stats.  There are also bad high schools.

 

It is so incredibly sad, because if we could transform high schools, so much of this could be averted, but in my high school, even the admin and teachers are often resistant to change.  They have not seen better schools, so don't know "how" to do it and MANY will tell you "our kids just aren't that good."  That's BS to be honest.  Some of our kids (quite a few) are that good, but when we never raise the bar, how in the world will we know?

 

I'm glad colleges are starting to try to account for this as LIVES are at stake - esp in our society where a degree can be so important - but they really shouldn't have to IMO.

 

From my high school class I recall exactly one student who came home from college and that was due to not being able to stand living away from home.  (Of course, not all went to college - a great high school just sorts - it can't put talent in where it isn't and some kids are simply more talented at other things.  Their niches are different.)

 

From the high school where I work, MANY will return and opt for cc or no college.  Many others will start in more difficult majors or pre-med and drop "down" due to academics.

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Oh... and race doesn't always matter.  Our high school is definitely majority Caucasian.  I just looked up official stats:

 

87% White

10% Hispanic

2% Black

1% Asian

 

18% eligible for free lunch

7% eligible for reduced lunch

 

It's the same low bar for all.

 

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Oh... and race doesn't always matter. Our high school is definitely majority Caucasian. I just looked up official stats:

 

87% White

10% Hispanic

2% Black

1% Asian

 

18% eligible for free lunch

7% eligible for reduced lunch

 

It's the same low bar for all.

Do you feel local control is gone? Or is it so local that only politically prominent families' advanced course requests are implemented?

 

Our demographics are similar, about 5 % more on free/red. Six years ago we were an IB school; now we are 'school to work', and that is at the cashier level, not high school to flight school.Now, top seniors cant fill their course schedule if they arent in the music program. Courses like music theory are half IB speed. No independent study is allowed. 15% of the senior class and 0.5% of the jr class takes calculus...but the district refuses to offer AP or dual enrolled sciences. (Students were telling the district to put them in study hall where they would do their math via distance learning or parent tutor, so the district caved and started offering de calc 1 and 2 last year.)French was totally dropped one year, with the teacher reassigned to Spanish, leaving 3 cohorts without the opportunuty to take French as jrs and srs. What I have seen at board meetings are families asking for the return of academic clubs , the addition of a sufficient number of honors/AP seats to accommodate all students who score in the 90 or better percentiles on the PSAT, and the addition of honors/AP Science. We all know it doesnt cost a cent more to run an honors Regents science class compared to a fully included section...it is actually cheaper bc only one instructor is needed. So it is not the money, it is the politics behind the scenes.

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This is probably one of the main reasons why I feel so strongly that high school students can benefit so much from dual enrollment.  IMO all students who are planning on any type of college after graduation should take at least a course or two so they learn what's required to succeed in college.  They're still at home with some parental oversight, and they enter their freshman year with some skills and insights that they wouldn't have had otherwise.   The more rigorous high school is, the more seamless the transition, but unfortunately many high schools just don't provide that level of challenge.

 

I thoroughly agree that any college skills/prep courses or programs should be open to all interested students no matter what their economic situation or level of their parents' education.   I would think that a questionnaire combined with some testing, or their test scores, could help to identify these students.

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I wonder what high schools could be doing to better prepare students for the transition to more independent work and responsibility. It seems to come as a huge surprise to a lot of first year college students that they have to be self regulating to do reading and homework even if it isn't graded and also a huge surprise that there won't be extracredit or do-overs. The big reason I see first year students failing, especially math classes, is that they simply do not keep up with doing the work. It isn't that the work is overwhelming or even terribly time consuming, it is that the student needs to make the choice to do it consistently even if it isn't graded.

 

 

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Do you feel local control is gone? Or is it so local that only politically prominent families' advanced course requests are implemented?

 

 

Local control being over-ridden is good in our case.  It's the locals who see nothing at all wrong with status quo and who are resistant to change.  Our new state tests and state standards ARE shifting our classes in a good direction - more is being covered.  More expectations are being made.  But... it is a long and difficult road shifting local attitudes.

 

It's not just "me" who has noticed.  Our school got a college counselor in due to one of those "Teach for America" types of deals.  He couldn't believe what he saw.  He started an SAT prep class only to find out he had to not prep the students, but teach the math - to kids who were getting As in their classes.  I told him, "Welcome to my world!"  He saw kids who were top of their class thinking they'd go to Ivy schools with an 1800 SAT score - thrilled that they broke 600 in a section or two.

 

He did his best to try to both counsel kids and see if "the system" could be changed even a tiny bit.  Then his funding ran out.  Our school tried to keep him and even did a local fundraiser to raise his salary, but it didn't work... locals aren't interested in such shenanigans and few believe kids here can "do it."  He's gone now (sigh) with no replacement.

 

In our school, if a question in a math class trips up too many kids, we don't make the material change to teach it better.  We drop the question from the test.

 

We have talented youngsters taking the same class as 12th grade "need a credit" students.  The class has to be dumbed down so those needing a redit can pass.  It certainly isn't an option to make it tougher to prepare the talented students.  I'm doubtful many of the teachers could handle tougher material TBH.

 

In English they regularly read books well below grade level to keep all classes level (4th grade level in 8th grade).  All papers are done in class rather than at home.  That's a lot of instructional time lost while they are researching and typing.  Many times reading time is given in class too - and let's not forget watching the movie version of the book.

 

I have yet to see any racism or classism come into play at all in our school when it comes to classes or expectations.  That is the one good thing about it.  The teachers/admin do try and many are sincere.  They just really have no clue what "good" schools can do (material, expectations, etc) and if discussed, they are firm that "it can't happen here with our kids!" (meaning, of course, that all those "better" kids simply live elsewhere - ours must be inferior or something.)  It's not true. It's just kids who start from elementary on with low expectations.

 

This is probably one of the main reasons why I feel so strongly that high school students can benefit so much from dual enrollment.  IMO all students who are planning on any type of college after graduation should take at least a course or two so they learn what's required to succeed in college.  They're still at home with some parental oversight, and they enter their freshman year with some skills and insights that they wouldn't have had otherwise.   The more rigorous high school is, the more seamless the transition, but unfortunately many high schools just don't provide that level of challenge.

 

I thoroughly agree that any college skills/prep courses or programs should be open to all interested students no matter what their economic situation or level of their parents' education.   I would think that a questionnaire combined with some testing, or their test scores, could help to identify these students.

 

Well... even our cc classes (DE) are NOT up to par with college classes my youngest has sat in on.  We do offer them and have had kids get As in them only to still test into remedial math/English.

 

I wonder what high schools could be doing to better prepare students for the transition to more independent work and responsibility. It seems to come as a huge surprise to a lot of first year college students that they have to be self regulating to do reading and homework even if it isn't graded and also a huge surprise that there won't be extracredit or do-overs. The big reason I see first year students failing, especially math classes, is that they simply do not keep up with doing the work. It isn't that the work is overwhelming or even terribly time consuming, it is that the student needs to make the choice to do it consistently even if it isn't graded.

 

We have taught our students that homework is only necessary if there is a reward (grade) and that reward can be obtained just as easily by copying or writing down mush (since they "tried"), so why bother with the "work" part?

 

Our kids have excellent copying and following directions skills (as long as the directions are step by step and do not require thought).  They totally miss concepts of what they are doing or are supposed to be learning.  Things are memorized for the test and forgotten soon thereafter as the "knowledge" was never truly learned (just listen to the complaints if you put a test off for a day - "But I won't KNOW the material then!!!  I studied for today!").

 

And this is normal.  So when the ACT/SAT are mixed questions - they don't know which thought they memorized that is supposed to be used for these mixed problems - even if they could do just fine on a test where the questions were more or less known ahead of time.  And many times the test is exactly what the practice test (homework) was - not even changed numbers.  How much effort does that take?

 

Our kids are getting As, but stepping over very low bars, then they are taken off guard when tossed into the true high jump in college.

 

It's sad.  It happens in math, English, and science - likely history too, since some of the final exam questions for world history were such basic items as "Who was Hitler?"  My kids were able to score 90% (missed two) on the World History final before they even took the course.  I forgot the second question they missed, but the first asked which nation the Industrial Revolution started in.  (If I were to search very old threads, I could come up with the actual final as I typed it in at the time.) 

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I wonder what high schools could be doing to better prepare students for the transition to more independent work and responsibility. It seems to come as a huge surprise to a lot of first year college students that they have to be self regulating to do reading and homework even if it isn't graded and also a huge surprise that there won't be extracredit or do-overs. The big reason I see first year students failing, especially math classes, is that they simply do not keep up with doing the work. It isn't that the work is overwhelming or even terribly time consuming, it is that the student needs to make the choice to do it consistently even if it isn't graded.

 

DD high school did a good job of this with what they called a "mod" system.  This modular scheduling system helps students learn to work independently, seek help when needed, and to recognize when they need help.  The day was broken into short time blocks, say 15 minutes, Biology might meet for 2 mods on Mon, Tues, and Wed, and 6 mods on Friday.  This would provide time for lectures on some days and labs on others.  This would leave less than the required number of "contact hours" but students had many "open mods" during the day--so do the teachers.  So, if Molly is doing fine in biology but needs extra help in algebra, she goes to algebra during her open mods.  This reduced the amount of wasted time by top students sitting in class waiting for others to finish their work.  The students come out expecting to go ask for help rather than being intimidated to do so.  They learn to use those small amounts of time between classes that can be so helpful in college.

 

I agree that the extra credit, do-over atmosphere in high school is also a major problem when students hit college.  In my opinion, many of the AP courses in high school are not really college level and mislead students about the workload--even to the point of having them develop bad habits that are detrimental to college success 

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I wonder what high schools could be doing to better prepare students for the transition to more independent work and responsibility. It seems to come as a huge surprise to a lot of first year college students that they have to be self regulating to do reading and homework even if it isn't graded and also a huge surprise that there won't be extracredit or do-overs. The big reason I see first year students failing, especially math classes, is that they simply do not keep up with doing the work. It isn't that the work is overwhelming or even terribly time consuming, it is that the student needs to make the choice to do it consistently even if it isn't graded.

I do think that part of the issue is that some students only see the world through grades.  They fail to understand that not doing the (ungraded) homework will lead to a bad test grade. 

 

In my opinion, there is another issue here. Students are not asked to read text books in high school.  One of my standard tricks was to put an example or two from the text on tests and point out afterward that if the students had read the text as required they would have seen the problem already.  I truly wonder if low reading comprehension is the root cause of the problem in math and college success in general.

 

Of course, another issue with math is that so many high school students were taught math algorithmically.  They learn procedures which may or may not be retained.  Prime example:  trig.  I hate to tell you how many students I have had who were told they had to memorize several pages of formulas.   My method has students record about an index card of basic relationships and formulae; everything else is derived. Knowing how to derive trig formulas means that a student can pull things out of their mental tool box later when using trig substitutions in integration theory, for example.  Someone who has memorized a pile of formulas is not going to recall them off the cuff two years later.

 

Back to the reading issue: Over this holiday weekend, I attended a party where I had a conversation with a second grade teacher who is being transferred to a public Montessori school.  She has had no formal Montessori training.The only thing she knows about the method is what she learned from visiting the school and from reading online.  I implored her to read Maria Montessori. Anyone can do anything and call it "Montessori" since it is not a trademarked term.  It blows me away that a teacher would not turn to primary source material first!  But perhaps this is problematic of the times.  Students look online for truth and fail to crack open the books!

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Local control being over-ridden is good in our case.  It's the locals who see nothing at all wrong with status quo and who are resistant to change.  Our new state tests and state standards ARE shifting our classes in a good direction - more is being covered.  More expectations are being made.  But... it is a long and difficult road shifting local attitudes.

 

It's not just "me" who has noticed.  Our school got a college counselor in due to one of those "Teach for America" types of deals.  He couldn't believe what he saw.  He started an SAT prep class only to find out he had to not prep the students, but teach the math - to kids who were getting As in their classes.  I told him, "Welcome to my world!"  He saw kids who were top of their class thinking they'd go to Ivy schools with an 1800 SAT score - thrilled that they broke 600 in a section or two.

 

He did his best to try to both counsel kids and see if "the system" could be changed even a tiny bit.  Then his funding ran out.  Our school tried to keep him and even did a local fundraiser to raise his salary, but it didn't work... locals aren't interested in such shenanigans and few believe kids here can "do it."  He's gone now (sigh) with no replacement.

 

In our school, if a question in a math class trips up too many kids, we don't make the material change to teach it better.  We drop the question from the test.

 

We have talented youngsters taking the same class as 12th grade "need a credit" students.  The class has to be dumbed down so those needing a redit can pass.  It certainly isn't an option to make it tougher to prepare the talented students.  I'm doubtful many of the teachers could handle tougher material TBH.

 

In English they regularly read books well below grade level to keep all classes level (4th grade level in 8th grade).  All papers are done in class rather than at home.  That's a lot of instructional time lost while they are researching and typing.  Many times reading time is given in class too - and let's not forget watching the movie version of the book.

 

I have yet to see any racism or classism come into play at all in our school when it comes to classes or expectations.  That is the one good thing about it.  The teachers/admin do try and many are sincere.  They just really have no clue what "good" schools can do (material, expectations, etc) and if discussed, they are firm that "it can't happen here with our kids!" (meaning, of course, that all those "better" kids simply live elsewhere - ours must be inferior or something.)  It's not true. It's just kids who start from elementary on with low expectations.

 

 

Well... even our cc classes (DE) are NOT up to par with college classes my youngest has sat in on.  We do offer them and have had kids get As in them only to still test into remedial math/English.

 

 

We have taught our students that homework is only necessary if there is a reward (grade) and that reward can be obtained just as easily by copying or writing down mush (since they "tried"), so why bother with the "work" part?

 

Our kids have excellent copying and following directions skills (as long as the directions are step by step and do not require thought).  They totally miss concepts of what they are doing or are supposed to be learning.  Things are memorized for the test and forgotten soon thereafter as the "knowledge" was never truly learned (just listen to the complaints if you put a test off for a day - "But I won't KNOW the material then!!!  I studied for today!").

 

And this is normal.  So when the ACT/SAT are mixed questions - they don't know which thought they memorized that is supposed to be used for these mixed problems - even if they could do just fine on a test where the questions were more or less known ahead of time.  And many times the test is exactly what the practice test (homework) was - not even changed numbers.  How much effort does that take?

 

Our kids are getting As, but stepping over very low bars, then they are taken off guard when tossed into the true high jump in college.

 

It's sad.  It happens in math, English, and science - likely history too, since some of the final exam questions for world history were such basic items as "Who was Hitler?"  My kids were able to score 90% (missed two) on the World History final before they even took the course.  I forgot the second question they missed, but the first asked which nation the Industrial Revolution started in.  (If I were to search very old threads, I could come up with the actual final as I typed it in at the time.) 

 

Your post describes your school's unfortunate situation so well, but I just can't seem to "Like" it.  How incredibly sad as your whole community is impacted.

 

As far as your community college classes not being on par, at least the students who take the classes will still need to learn how to schedule classes, talk with professors, start or join study groups, hand in assignments on time, navigate the college's email, registration, notification, etc. system, get to class on time, read and follow a syllabus, etc..  These are all great skills to have before college, and if they find they are having trouble, it gives them time to get help so those same problems don't prevent them from succeeding after graduation.  Not all community colleges are equal, and not all courses within a college are equal, and not all diplomas from colleges are equal.  Those who seek a challenge should be able to find it at most colleges, but of course there are always exceptions.   Even if a course isn't on par, they will still have the knowledge they gained and a class taught at a more rigorous level will be easier for them because of their previous exposure to the material.  I'll bet that yours have gone into college with more confidence because of their community college experiences.

 

 

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I do think that part of the issue is that some students only see the world through grades.  They fail to understand that not doing the (ungraded) homework will lead to a bad test grade. 

 

In my opinion, there is another issue here. Students are not asked to read text books in high school.  One of my standard tricks was to put an example or two from the text on tests and point out afterward that if the students had read the text as required they would have seen the problem already.  I truly wonder if low reading comprehension is the root cause of the problem in math and college success in general.

 

 

 

I have found that more and more college students don't read the textbook--and I have found out that they don't even know what it means.

 

I had one in my office last year who said, "Oh, you mean look at  the powerpoints."  Talking to a high school AP teacher I learned that many school districts offering AP courses do not have in the budget to purchase college textbooks.  The teachers are given the publisher prepared powerpoints and the students are told that is the "book".

 

I had a student failing last semester who asked what he needed to do to improve his grade.  I said, "I would start with reading the book."  His response was, "No, I don't learn that way.  What do you suggest I do?"  I repeated, "I would read the book..."  I had to point out to him that his way was not working and that he wasn't willing to take my advice as a professor with over 25 years of teaching so there wasn't much I could do to help him.

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I had a student failing last semester who asked what he needed to do to improve his grade.  I said, "I would start with reading the book."  His response was, "No, I don't learn that way.  What do you suggest I do?"  I repeated, "I would read the book..."  I had to point out to him that his way was not working and that he wasn't willing to take my advice as a professor with over 25 years of teaching so there wasn't much I could do to help him.

 

Pay your girlfriend to read the book to you? :P

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Gladwell's thesis (incorrect, I believe) is that the more selective a college, the less likely a student who starts out as a stem major will graduate with a stem degree, though they very well may graduate with a non-stem degree.  However, his data was all from small private LACs in the 1980s, that all had very high graduation rates.

 I wonder if part of why this might be true is related to the level of math offered at more selective colleges. At our local LAC, calculus and statistics are the lowest level real math classes offered. So if a student does not come in with strong pre-calc preparation, it would be very difficult for them to successfully tackle calculus and stay on a STEM tract. 

 

My very small high school had good math classes up until pre-cal and no calculus. When I went to a small LAC, I decided I wasn't going to take any more math because I had really disliked my high school math teacher and my ACT math score exempted me from the college requirement. But during my sophomore year, I started considering a professional grad program that required one calculus class. Knowing my pre-calc experience had been week, I enrolled in pre-calc rather than calculus. I had an amazing prof and went on to take the entire calc sequence followed by several upper division math classes. I ended up changing my career plans and attended an Ivy League school for a graduate STEM degree. And I really credit all of that to the amazing pre-calc class I had my sophomore year. Not only was the prof an excellent and inspiring instructor, but I think that course really laid the foundation for my success in the math classes that followed.

 

And as for students in general being more likely to graduate if they attend a more selective school, I think that is likely due to several factors. First, most of these schools offer very good financial aid, so poorer students likely don't have struggle to balance off-campus work and school as much as they would at other colleges. Second, many of these schools offers excellent support services for all students and will go to great lengths to help every student graduate. I worked in institutional research at an Ivy League school one summer and was absolutely blown away by the lengths the college went to in this regard. And as already discussed, being in a challenging environment surrounded by other high achieving students also helps.

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Laude's methods are interesting but Yeager's ideas in this article are especially worth reading several times. What a person comes to believe about him- or herself is incredibly important. Belonging is also important.

 

I am going to be printing this article. Thanks for posting it, regentrude.

 

 

 

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I have found that more and more college students don't read the textbook--and I have found out that they don't even know what it means.

 

I had one in my office last year who said, "Oh, you mean look at  the powerpoints."  Talking to a high school AP teacher I learned that many school districts offering AP courses do not have in the budget to purchase college textbooks.  The teachers are given the publisher prepared powerpoints and the students are told that is the "book".

 

I had a student failing last semester who asked what he needed to do to improve his grade.  I said, "I would start with reading the book."  His response was, "No, I don't learn that way.  What do you suggest I do?"  I repeated, "I would read the book..."  I had to point out to him that his way was not working and that he wasn't willing to take my advice as a professor with over 25 years of teaching so there wasn't much I could do to help him.

 

Wow

 

What are they hoping for?  Osmosis?  Seriously....

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Pay your girlfriend to read the book to you? :p

 

I will have to remember that line to use next time :)

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Your post describes your school's unfortunate situation so well, but I just can't seem to "Like" it.  How incredibly sad as your whole community is impacted.

 

As far as your community college classes not being on par, at least the students who take the classes will still need to learn how to schedule classes, talk with professors, start or join study groups, hand in assignments on time, navigate the college's email, registration, notification, etc. system, get to class on time, read and follow a syllabus, etc..  These are all great skills to have before college, and if they find they are having trouble, it gives them time to get help so those same problems don't prevent them from succeeding after graduation.  Not all community colleges are equal, and not all courses within a college are equal, and not all diplomas from colleges are equal.  Those who seek a challenge should be able to find it at most colleges, but of course there are always exceptions.   Even if a course isn't on par, they will still have the knowledge they gained and a class taught at a more rigorous level will be easier for them because of their previous exposure to the material.  I'll bet that yours have gone into college with more confidence because of their community college experiences.

 

The really sad part, to me, is that the school I work in is statistically average for our state and the nation.  Technically, it's slightly under for our state, but our state is slightly over for the nation, so it balances out.  That means there are way too many schools like mine out there - and a good number that are worse. 

 

And no, at our school (and many others) the DE courses are taught in the high school.  The high school sets it all up for the kids, the prof teaching it is one who already works in the school and tends to use the same high school standards/policies, and pretty much absolutely nothing is different for the kids except they use the same books/materials as the cc (or 4 year school - one DE class - English - uses a local 4 year school, not cc).  Then some colleges offer credit for As - Cs.  State schools have to offer credit.  Private may or may not.  The level of learning - true learning - is no different for most of them.  We do have a couple of good teachers who try to prepare students for college, but the system tends to work against them when they try to adhere to standards.  It's an uphill battle.

 

Few students read textbooks in our school.  Few teachers even suggest doing so.

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Few students read textbooks in our school.  Few teachers even suggest doing so.

 

Few courses in our local public high schools (which are in many respects better than the national average) even have textbooks!

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Few courses in our local public high schools (which are in many respects better than the national average) even have textbooks!

 

Many do not here as well - esp not enough for each student to have one.  They are likely to have enough for an individual class to have one if they care to use them, but then they need to stay in the room for the next class.

 

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I wonder what high schools could be doing to better prepare students for the transition to more independent work and responsibility. It seems to come as a huge surprise to a lot of first year college students that they have to be self regulating to do reading and homework even if it isn't graded and also a huge surprise that there won't be extra credit or do-overs. The big reason I see first year students failing, especially math classes, is that they simply do not keep up with doing the work. It isn't that the work is overwhelming or even terribly time consuming, it is that the student needs to make the choice to do it consistently even if it isn't graded.

 

During a recent college visit my son had a chat with a teacher in the school of engineering and technology (where he intends to apply!) about homeschoolers' success in the program. The teacher told him he enjoys having hs'ers in class because they know how to study.

 

He explained it this way: Homeschoolers and public schoolers are all experiencing a change in their learning environments their first year at college, but they are coming at it from polar opposite viewpoints.

 

The homeschoolers, used to DVDs, occasional mentoring, and textbooks written to the student, feel as if their world is opening up and they enjoy it if they are capable of that level of work. They have a classful of peers, a professor, a TA, tutoring centers, study groups. The public schoolers have the teachers and peers but the part that is new, for them, are the hours alone with their own brain and their textbook and the notes they took alone, working all by themselves.

 

He said the homeschoolers will seek out the available help because having that much help is novel in the first place, and seems like a great idea to them.

 

This sounds good to me and I'm glad this educator's experience has taught him to welcome hs'ers. I'll know in about a year whether it was true of my son...sounds like him, but we'll see.

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All papers are done in class rather than at home.  That's a lot of instructional time lost while they are researching and typing. 

 

They are doing this at our local school too. I know a mom whose son attends this school and when I asked her about it awhile ago, she told me it was actually more rigorous to have the papers done in school because when the kids were working at home many parents were helping too much, including writing the papers themselves! The school decided this keeps everyone more honest. It's probably true, but yikes.

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Unfortunately, I have found many of the "programs" intended to help students actually lead to more problems in the long run.  I have a number of college students who think they will pass a class because they go to a tutor or a review session the day before the exam.  These "special helps" are emphasized more than the basics--going to class, reading the book, doing the homework.  Every semester I get a number of letters from the provost telling me that a (failing) student is being excused from class for several days to attend a special leadership seminar designed to help first generation college students succeed. What the student really needs is to be in class, not attending some special seminar.

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I have found that more and more college students don't read the textbook--and I have found out that they don't even know what it means.

 

I had one in my office last year who said, "Oh, you mean look at  the powerpoints."  Talking to a high school AP teacher I learned that many school districts offering AP courses do not have in the budget to purchase college textbooks.  The teachers are given the publisher prepared powerpoints and the students are told that is the "book".

 

Exactly my experience. Most don't read the book. For those who clam that they did read, it turns out upon further investigation that they skim the text. For a science text, that is not going to do them any good. They need to read with pencil in hand, take notes, and work through the examples. I can tell them, but I can't seem to make them do it. My colleagues across disciplines have the same problem.

 

Textbooks themselves are a problem with their highly distractive layout, the tons of unimportant boxes and side bars and extra infos. There is not actually consecutive text during which a complicated concept is explained in English. The publishers claim that this is catering to the way students learn, but seeing how little students work with those - tailored- to- them- textbooks I wonder whether textbooks are not really contributing to the short attention span. Those books are like ADHD on steroids.

 

Jane mentioned reading comprehension, and according to my colleagues from the English department, this is a real problem. 25-30% of students enter our four year university without the reading comprehension necessary to succeed in college. Those figures seem to be similar at other institutions.

 

 

 

I had a student failing last semester who asked what he needed to do to improve his grade.  I said, "I would start with reading the book."  His response was, "No, I don't learn that way.  What do you suggest I do?"  I repeated, "I would read the book..."  I had to point out to him that his way was not working and that he wasn't willing to take my advice as a professor with over 25 years of teaching so there wasn't much I could do to help him.

 

Yes. And part of this problem is that they have been told 18 years they are "special". Rules and textbooks and syllabi and expert advice do not apply to "special" snowflakes. I occasionally see lack of self esteem, but more often I see an overinflated self esteem that is lacking any factual basis.

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Unfortunately, I have found many of the "programs" intended to help students actually lead to more problems in the long run.  I have a number of college students who think they will pass a class because they go to a tutor or a review session the day before the exam.  These "special helps" are emphasized more than the basics--going to class, reading the book, doing the homework.  Every semester I get a number of letters from the provost telling me that a (failing) student is being excused from class for several days to attend a special leadership seminar designed to help first generation college students succeed. What the student really needs is to be in class, not attending some special seminar.

 

Oh yes, review sessions the night before the exam are wildly popular. That's when I have people turn up whom I have not seen in class for days or weeks. Not sure what magic they expect.

I continue to offer help sessions the night before exams because it makes the diligent but anxious students feel better. It is entirely placebo. If they don't know it already, studying the night before will be pretty useless.

 

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Jane mentioned reading comprehension, and according to my colleagues from the English department, this is a real problem. 25-30% of students enter our four year university without the reading comprehension necessary to succeed in college. Those figures seem to be similar at other institutions.

 

 

Is it any surprise when 8th grade students are forced to read 4th grade level books for their English classes so they don't make the students who are incapable of the 8th grade level feel bad?  In the high school we can't just jump from 4th grade to actual high school level (or beyond, as many potential college students could do).  Actually, perhaps they could in some classes, but they won't as the foundation isn't there and they won't cram to try to make it there.

 

There are some kids who read (willingly) on their own, but there are far fewer than there used to be.  Most want to text or tweet.

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Just some thoughts ...

Dual enrollment taught in the high school by a high school teacher would seem to defeat the purpose of taking a college class. 

No textbooks being used in any of the classes is absurd.

The type of help I was referring to is a college study skills type of class which is ideally taken during the first semester or the summer before.

Being pulled from a class to attend a program to help the student is definitely counterproductive.

Review sessions before a final are great for clearing up any questions (for the students who have been working all semester and have studied).

Creekland your school district, and likely many others, needs an overhaul starting in the elementary schools.

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Just some thoughts ...

Dual enrollment taught in the high school by a high school teacher would seem to defeat the purpose of taking a college class. 

...

Creekland your school district, and likely many others, needs an overhaul starting in the elementary schools.

 

DE - run in the high school - is what has replaced AP in many schools (including mine).  It is considered "better" because the teacher/professor can more accurately gauge whether the student should get credit or not rather than relying on one test in the spring.  More schools are switching to it since it's so much better.

 

In reality, few kids of ours could muster more than a 2 on any AP test and those are the same students generally getting credit now via grades.  The amount they know really hasn't changed.  Is it any surprise that many colleges are switching to not allowing cc credit obtained in the high school to transfer?

 

On that last point, you are preaching to the choir.  I vent on here (and to hubby) as it is difficult to do so and remain tactful at school.  I do try when I see an opportunity.  I pulled my own out when oldest hit high school so I could ensure they got a decent education (and found this board about then too!).  Once mine had scores and college success, more became interested in "how I did it," but then they decided that my kids are merely "geniuses" and what I did can't be reproduced with "our kids."  That's ludicrous.  There are many at school as intelligent as mine - if they had the opportunity and challenge.  When my kids were in school for the earlier grades they were right "with the pack" of our academically talented students.  They weren't heads and shoulders above the others in that group.  Oldest didn't even test into our gifted program.

 

My personal worry is that youngest insisted upon returning to ps when he hit high school.  He was WAY ahead when he started and still got higher than average scores for our school, but at the end (senior year), he slacked a bit, and as he starts college, I'm holding my breath hoping for the best.  He has not learned the skills either of my other two learned.  We'll see what happens.  He's capable, but without as solid of a foundation.  Will he sink or swim?  Time will tell.

 

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Creekland I know you'd change a lot there if you could.   Change starts slowly and you've planted the seed.   I'm guessing that your son will be swept up with the excitement of learning in his areas of interest and will step up to the plate.  Even if his high school didn't provide a challenge, his time homeschooling and working at home have taught him that hard work pays off.  That lesson will likely carry through to his college work and he'll swim ... literally too!

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This thread has  been depressing.

 

I have considered having my children enroll in some classes at the local schools at the junior high and high school level, but recent discussions with some of the teachers at the junior high have left me rather disillusioned. A math teacher told me I was wrong to demonstrate skip counting by fives on a number line as one way of understanding 3 x 5. She insisted that I should instead demonstrate skip counting by three "because when doing addition on a number line students start with the first number then count on, so they will be confused if they do not start with the first number for multiplication." My explanation that 3 x 5 means three groups of five, and skip counting by threes would instead demonstrate 5 x 3 was met with a blank stare and further insistence that not starting with the first number (3) on the number line would confuse the students. 

 

The other encounter was with the French teacher, who had never studied French and did not speak a word of the language but had been pulled from another department to teach the French class after the former French teacher left. I heard her teaching the students to count to ten, her pronunciation was --nothing like French.

 

I feel sorry for students who are being taught by teachers who themselves don't understanding the subjects they are teaching.

 

ETA: parents in my area rave about how good the schools are all the time. I did once hear a parent lament the fact that her high school child never had homework.

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I have found that more and more college students don't read the textbook--and I have found out that they don't even know what it means.

 

I had one in my office last year who said, "Oh, you mean look at  the powerpoints."  Talking to a high school AP teacher I learned that many school districts offering AP courses do not have in the budget to purchase college textbooks.  The teachers are given the publisher prepared powerpoints and the students are told that is the "book".

 

I had a student failing last semester who asked what he needed to do to improve his grade.  I said, "I would start with reading the book."  His response was, "No, I don't learn that way.  What do you suggest I do?"  I repeated, "I would read the book..."  I had to point out to him that his way was not working and that he wasn't willing to take my advice as a professor with over 25 years of teaching so there wasn't much I could do to help him.

 

I have had similar conversations with my own kids a couple of times.  I ask how they are doing the assignments. They tell me something, that typically doesn't include reading the chapter and taking any kind of notes.  I suggest that they take notes, because what they are doing isn't working for them.

 

On the lack of textbooks in AP classes, I haven't seen that. But I have seen a number of "reading guides" that are pretty detailed outlines of the text.  Of course, a student reading with a pencil and tablet of paper could do that on their own, and probably remember a whole lot more than by skimming a pre-written outline.

 

 

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Many do not here as well - esp not enough for each student to have one.  They are likely to have enough for an individual class to have one if they care to use them, but then they need to stay in the room for the next class.

 

 

I cannot get multi-quote to work for me.  Operator error probably.

 

The issue of textbooks is one of my hobby horses.  If the student doesn't have a text, they sure aren't doing any reading or homework out of class time.  There is nothing for the parent (or tutor, or older sibling, or helpful neighbor) to point to and use to model good study skills.  So kids are left to (maybe) read in class and hope to remember what the read or heard when it is time to do some worksheets.  Argh.

 

I hold eTexts in contempt as well.  I really think districts are being sold a pig in a poke.  What happens when the district budget gets axed for a year or two (or five or ten)? There won't be an option of not paying for the site license or renewal when the e-textbook bill comes due. Because they won't have anything to fall back on.  Sure some textbooks get dated.  But I can still teach out of an older English, math, or history book for a number of years.  But there won't be an option of rebinding or requiring covers for old books if there are no books. 

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This thread has  been depressing.

 

I have considered having my children enroll in some classes at the local schools at the junior high and high school level, but recent discussions with some of the teachers at the junior high have left me rather disillusioned. A math teacher told me I was wrong to demonstrate skip counting by fives on a number line as one way of understanding 3 x 5. She insisted that I should instead demonstrate skip counting by three "because when doing addition on a number line students start with the first number then count on, so they will be confused if they do not start with the first number for multiplication." My explanation that 3 x 5 means three groups of five, and skip counting by threes would instead demonstrate 5 x 3 was met with a blank stare and further insistence that not starting with the first number (3) on the number line would confuse the students. 

 

The other encounter was with the French teacher, who had never studied French and did not speak a word of the language but had been pulled from another department to teach the French class after the former French teacher left. I heard her teaching the students to count to ten, her pronunciation was --nothing like French.

 

I feel sorry for students who are being taught by teachers who themselves don't understanding the subjects they are teaching.

 

ETA: parents in my area rave about how good the schools are all the time. I did once hear a parent lament the fact that her high school child never had homework.

 

It really doesn't matter which number you skip count by.  Multiplication is commutative.  3x5=5x3   

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It really doesn't matter which number you skip count by. Multiplication is commutative. 3x5=5x3

It is commutative, but not equivalent. Three times five means three fives, five three times, three groups of five oranges, three sets of five minutes, etc. I think the meaning of the terms is conceptually important.

 

If you lay out a grid of items or dots, you can see why three rows of five and five rows of three equal the same number of objects, but that does not mean the different groupings have no conceptual significance.

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Regarding students who don't show up for classes, it reminds me of James Heckman's work that explains why passing the GED does not lead to future success. The number of hours spent studying for the GED is significantly less than the hours spent attending classes to get a high school diploma. Merely showing up day after day takes more effort than just studying for the GED. It is the noncognitive skills that are often lacking; therefore, it makes sense to work on developing noncognitive skills.
 
Dan Goleman's book Focus also discusses a large study in Dunedin, New Zealand, that has been tracking about 1,000 children for several decades and what sort of effect self control (or lack thereof) has had on their lives. Self control is tremendously important, possibly the most important skill to develop. The study shows that preschoolers with good self control are much better off as adults. A link to the study and a summary of what the study found.
 
http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2013/5/lifelong-impact-of-early-self-control
 

The patterns in self-control and social well-being over the past three decades showed something remarkable: An individual's preschool self-control predicts their life satisfaction, crime record, income level, physical health, and parenting skill in adolescence and even adulthood.

 

 

 

 

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Some colleges (Georgia Southern comes to mind) have 'running start' type programs for students who may need some extra help getting used to college. Those are not open to everyone. I think GA Southern's is based on SAT scores more than demographics, but I think that may be what Sebastian is referring to. Some are based on socio-economic background. I have had former students who have attended those.

 

We have a program like this at our local high school. It is only open to 11th-12th graders who have been identified as first generation college material. The services and opportunities offered to these children would benefit many students.

 

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Just to add a little lightness to this thread, Chris Rock has a funny routine about GED meaning Good Enogh Diploma. But, like all Chris Rock routines, if you choose to google it, be warned that he uses language some people find offensive.

 

Regarding students who don't show up for classes, it reminds me of James Heckman's work that explains why passing the GED does not lead to future success. The number of hours spent studying for the GED is significantly less than the hours spent attending classes to get a high school diploma. Merely showing up day after day takes more effort than just studying for the GED. It is the noncognitive skills that are often lacking; therefore, it makes sense to work on developing noncognitive skills.

 

Dan Goleman's book Focus also discusses a large study in Dunedin, New Zealand, that has been tracking about 1,000 children for several decades and what sort of effect self control (or lack thereof) has had on their lives. Self control is tremendously important, possibly the most important skill to develop. The study shows that preschoolers with good self control are much better off as adults. A link to the study and a summary of what the study found.

 

http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2013/5/lifelong-impact-of-early-self-control

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DD high school did a good job of this with what they called a "mod" system.  This modular scheduling system helps students learn to work independently, seek help when needed, and to recognize when they need help.

 

My high school was on the 'mod system' -- back in the early 90s. We were told there were only two high schools in the country at the time who did that. I thought it was great. But they were talking about going to a traditional system even when I was there because more and more of the kids coming in had too much freedom and didn't learn to seek help or work independently. They started putting more controls on the kids coming in - Freshmen had to go to one central sign in/out area during their free mods until they could prove they could handle the freedom.

 

On the topic of DE classes at the high school taught by the high school teachers:  The local state college does this with area schools. Some of us homeschoolers are trying to 'break into' the state college as the only DE available there is the kind at the high school. The school doesn't seem to understand that some of us would like our kid to attend an actual College Class at the college while still being of high school age. While the quality of the classes isn't great, it might provide backup for mommy grades, a recommendation letter opportunity, and the ability to see on a small scale what college is like. I agree that DE at the high school taught by the high school teachers is more like AP.

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Those dreams never end! I still have one two or three times a year in which I am in my senior year and FORET that I signe up for a specific French class. Did not attend even once but went to all of my other classes and yet, the Dean bounces me out of school!

 

I wake up with a start and sweating.

 

The othe dream is more of a nightmare in which I do not pass my freshman music jury and my piano prof is so angry she hits me over the headwith her favorite, vintage Chopin collection which was a fairly heavy book! I usually have a racing heart and am gasping for air when I wake up from that one. Freshman jury was 29 years ago!

 

Sigh....my poor, tortured, psyche!

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No student dreams (nightmares) for me, but I do have a recurring dream of being late for a Calc class that I was teaching.  I am standing in the stacks of the university library engrossed in a book--and have forgotten about my class. 

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I stopped offering review sessions a few years ago because students would not show up to class, but would show up to review sessions and expect me to teach them the course in 2 hours.  Now I meet with my students who have specific questions individually. 

Oh yes, review sessions the night before the exam are wildly popular. That's when I have people turn up whom I have not seen in class for days or weeks. Not sure what magic they expect.

I continue to offer help sessions the night before exams because it makes the diligent but anxious students feel better. It is entirely placebo. If they don't know it already, studying the night before will be pretty useless.
 

 

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No student dreams (nightmares) for me, but I do have a recurring dream of being late for a Calc class that I was teaching.  I am standing in the stacks of the university library engrossed in a book--and have forgotten about my class. 

 

I *did* this with one calculus class. About 20 minutes after class was supposed to start, an enterprising student led about half the class to my office to hunt for me. Oh dear dear dear. I felt terrible.

 

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No student dreams (nightmares) for me, but I do have a recurring dream of being late for a Calc class that I was teaching.  I am standing in the stacks of the university library engrossed in a book--and have forgotten about my class. 

 

I had the opposite of this happen. My students didn't show up for my third block calculus. They were so engrossed in their AP Bio lab that the teacher and the students lost track of time. I was afraid the AP Bio teacher had a heart attack. Unfortunately, two weeks ago, this lovely teacher died of a pulmonary embolism. Now I feel like I'm living in the Witches of Eastwick. I am trying to think only positive thoughts.

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I stopped offering review sessions a few years ago because students would not show up to class, but would show up to review sessions and expect me to teach them the course in 2 hours.  Now I meet with my students who have specific questions individually. 

 

How big is your course?

I can see handling a small class of up to 40 like this, but with 100+ students, no way I can make individual arrangements. I'll  simply have to announce a time and place when I am available.

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Those dreams never end! I still have one two or three times a year in which I am in my senior year and FORET that I signe up for a specific French class. Did not attend even once but went to all of my other classes and yet, the Dean bounces me out of school!

 

I wake up with a start and sweating.

 

The othe dream is more of a nightmare in which I do not pass my freshman music jury and my piano prof is so angry she hits me over the headwith her favorite, vintage Chopin collection which was a fairly heavy book! I usually have a racing heart and am gasping for air when I wake up from that one. Freshman jury was 29 years ago!

 

Sigh....my poor, tortured, psyche!

 

I have a recurring dream of having to repeat the rather involved German high school final exams, but I am already an adult. In one version of the dream, I am at the school office filling out the paperwork to sign up for the exam, and there is a space for "academic title". So I ask the secretary whether I should put my PhD in there, and she looks looks at me and tells me that, if I have a PhD, they can waive the high school finals for me. Bahaha.

 

My mother, who is an opera singer and later professor for voice, has the recurring night mare of having to repeat her conservatory final recital... but as a grownup, in front of the professors that are now her colleagues.

 

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Funny... my recurring dream is that I can't remember my locker combination. (LOL)

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No student dreams (nightmares) for me, but I do have a recurring dream of being late for a Calc class that I was teaching.  I am standing in the stacks of the university library engrossed in a book--and have forgotten about my class. 

 

I had several such dreams my first year of teaching. Me forgetting to go to class was a recurring theme. Another was messing up an exam that I was giving. The most horrible dream was the night before I gave a test for the first time in my life. In the dream, I am done giving the exam and carry the stack with filled out tests, and the wind blows them away and they get stuck in trees, roots and bushes, and I am scrambling to recover them.

 

 

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I dreamed that I went to defend my dissertation, and they informed me that there had been an error and I had not passed my comprehensive analysis exam. So I had to take it over. So I went to take it, and they had swapped it out and replaced it with a (theoretical) differential equations exam. I complained, and they told me that if I deserved a phd I would be able to derive whatever I needed to work the differential equations exam.

 

I woke up shaking ... this was on the morning of my defense.

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Clearly school of any kind is excessively stressful for both students and teachers, causes permanent trauma to the psyche, and must be eliminated for the good of the human race.   :D

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I know two men who did sleep through their college Russian final, because they'd pulled an all nighter studying for it. They evidently came rushing in in the last few minutes of the exam period.  Fortunately, they had been pretty good students and the prof was gracious in letting them take the exam rather than just failing them.

 

I once dropped a course at the end of the add/drop period.  But I didn't go in and tell the prof I was dropping (that was too scary), nor did the registrar inform him. As far as he knew I'd just stopped coming, so he entered an F at the end of the first grading period.  My heart stopped when I saw that one. 

 

I used to have dreams about shipwide engineering inspections and not having completed training or maintenance records. 

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