The Semester Inventory – Fall 2009

Posted: November 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

Yes, it is truly coming down to the end of my semester here at The University of Tampa.  Since I know how pigheaded and short sided I can sometimes be, I’ve decided to write out what I’ve learned about people in the few months that I’ve been in this collegiate setting.  That way, later I can look back over it and remind myself of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the Human Spirit.  We all have lessons to learn, right? This is my list of ones I’ve seen.

Without further fanfare, I present the Inventory:

The world is a much worse place than most of us even want to know.  We avoid it, living in our own little bubbles, selectively seeing and hearing what is really going on around us. We should really, really stop that. Without people to do something about it, it’s just going to get worse.

Technology does not always make people smarter.  The more you rely on technology instead of doing things the old fashioned way, the dumber some people get.  Call it laziness.  We become complacent with the internet at our fingertips, answers for everything in seconds from your iPhone or Smartphone.

The education system in this state is abysmal.  Teaching children to pass a test (the FCAT in this instance) instead of teaching them how to apply the knowledge they gain is causing High Schools to turn out some of the dumbest kids I’ve ever seen in my 33 years on this planet.  They don’t know how to take notes, do a term paper or think for themselves. Terrifying.  Who is going to be running this country in a few years? We are only a few years away from “Tila Tequila, President of the United States” if things keep going they way they are now.

My cell phone is the most expensive instant messenger I’ve seen.  I don’t talk to people on the phone much anymore, everything revolves around a text. Why talk face to face when you can instant message someone anywhere in the world at any time?  Who doesn’t carry their cell everywhere nowadays? Who isn’t always on it? I’ve never seen so many people with a phone glued to their ear or in their fingers for texting as I have when I moved to Tampa.

People are quick to judge about anything.  We are a self-righteous bunch of shit heads, aren’t we? We label and categorize people to fit our scheme of life. I can guarantee: for every person you’ve ever talked “smack” about, made comments about behind their back, they’ve probably said the same thing about you. And some of us are much better at it than you think.

People who juggle work and are a full-time student have my respect.  It’s a very tough thing to do well.  My own balancing act isn’t quite as great as some of theirs.  They even manage to have a real life outside of all that they do.

People can also be ridiculously petty and envious over nothing.  You might think your life sucks, but I can also guarantee someone out there is envious of you for something you would never have thought of on your own.

Fun is a precious commodity.  If you juggle as many things as some people do, if you don’t have fun once in a while, you will explode.  Fun is a life requirement.   If you don’t have fun, what are you working for exactly? Do you hate your life?  Get out and do something fun. Life should have those moments, it’s what makes it worth living.

If you are a younger person and you are a college student, do not do the following: Do not go up to the man in the class that you know is much older than you, older in fact that the professor, and ask him how old he is.  Then, when he tells you he’s 33 don’t say, “Wow, I thought you were a lot older.” It’s not a great way to break the ice. It’s also very impolite to point out the amount of grey in his hair as you try to fumble for a way to make up for asking his age.

The library on campus is not a very useful resource in the Technology Era.  I’ve never even been inside of ours since school began in august. It’s sadly all about resources, and the internet is faster, more convenient, and closer than a library. Not to mention you gain 12-15 articles instantly for a term paper if you know where to look. That makes me sad in a lot of ways.  I used to love being in a library.

That brings me to this: The internet is not just for porn.  Yes, it is convenient for porn searches. The internet is a much more powerful resource if used correctly. If you like to research, it can probably be found. Learn how to use it.

And here’s another technology-era observation for younger students: Wikipedia is not a primary source.  Say it with me: Wikipedia is not a primary source.  A primary source is a place that is factual.  Wikipedia can in fact be altered by anyone, and it is not considered “the source” of true information.  Don’t ask your teachers if Wikipedia is acceptable. It is NOT.  Yes, it is a great place to start.  You can get a great deal of information on a topic quickly.

However, that textbooksdoes not mean you ever cite anything directly from there.  It’s a place to start gathering info on a topic, then decide what to further investigate about it from there.  It isn’t the end of the search. It could probably be considered, in some cases, a tertiary source at best. And don’t give me the argument that it has been used as a Primary Source in certain court cases. I’m well aware of that, and still don’t care. It is not an acceptable primary source. Period.

Cell phones are never okay in a classroom.  It’s extremely disrespectful to your professors, your colleagues and your fellow students. Not to mention, it’s also a distraction.  How would you feel if you were talking and someone started playing with their phone, obviously ignoring anything you have to say? Oh wait, you probably wouldn’t care.  That is sadly the world we live in now, where basic communication skills have been tossed out the window in lieu of the ever-present cell phone and internet.

Something else I’ve noticed: a lot of people don’t know how to take notes effectively.  Particularly the younger students at the University are not accustomed to taking notes at the collegiate level. Teachers don’t always write everything you need to know on the board.  I’ve heard a lot of kids complain that some of the teacher’s notes don’t make any sense. One girl even said, “If I took a picture of the board after she finishes the lecture and showed it to someone outside of class, no one would understand what the lecture was even about.” Yes, that’s largely true; they expect that you will edit the lecture yourself and decide what is most important about what they were talking about. A very good rule of thumb is that if a professor says it more than once, it will probably be on the test. Note taking is a skill and it can be learned. It just takes adequate practice and the development of your own shorthand system.

Someone should also teach a class on time management skills.  Those are totally invaluable in college.

Term papers are a process. A well written paper can take several days to truly develop from your initial notes to the final draft, much like everything else in life.  Take some time to really understand your topic before you pull an “all-nighter” to write a paper.  If you have notes to work from, it makes the whole process that much easier.  Also, you should really write from an outline.  An outline is a great way to get everything you want to say in a nice, linear fashion. It helps stop you from wandering off topic (like I’m prone to do!).

In addition to these collegiate/world lessons, I’ve also seen some great things.  I’ve seen people be compassionate, kind, generous, welcoming, friendly and humorous too.  Being in a weird place like a dorm building takes some getting used to, but you do meet people just in the course of your day to day life, whether it be on the elevator, or in the lobby that are just as uncomfortable as you are at first.  That setting can bring people together that wouldn’t normally have associated with each other.  For a lot of these kids, I think college is a much needed wakeup call about life. It has shown me that even in a few short months you can see the transition some of these kids make as they start learning how to be an adult.  A little life experience on your own goes a very long way.

Above all else?  Anything worth having in life is always worth working for.




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