Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mail call

From a reader letter:
There really is no such word as "mentee." "Mentor" was a figure in Greek mythology; he was the teacher of Telemachus, son of Odysseus. Rather than "mentor-mentee," you might try "Mentor-Telemachus."
I eagerly await the day when "the Mentor-Telemachus relationship" becomes everyday parlance.

Monday, July 13, 2009


College Summit went well, I think. The kids were better this year than last, even if the campus was abysmal. I learned that 1) modeling is a competitive sport in PG County public schools, 2) the current hip life aspiration of the ambitious is to own a hair salon (last year, it was music production), and 3) being a straight-A student does not preclude totally stupid conclusions, like "Maybe I'll just have a baby instead of going to college because that's what my sisters did." Reinforced from last year was the fact that apparently only rich people want to study liberal arts.

The program has a pretty fool-proof curriculum not unlike the Henry Ford model of production--it breaks down the personal statement into discrete parts so that anyone, no matter how plainly illiterate, can produce something resembling an essay (and, on the other hand, anyone can teach it) in three days. I've discovered that the seeming success of the workshop can create a false sense of optimism. One thinks, "Oh, my students have a finished essay, they filled out a sample application, they met with a college counselor--they are well on their way to college!" But actually, no. Between now and the application deadline this December, they will forget to sign up for the SAT, or to upload the essay they wrote, or to ask for recommendations, or maybe the economy will collapse, or any number of things that will result in only one out of my four students going somewhere other than community college. At least, that's how it turned out with last year's crop. This year's at least had better grades to start from. But I am not getting my hopes up.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What is happening

I am at the most dismal college campus ever for the weekend, teaching the science of the college essay to the ubiquitous "kids from PG County." The beds are crunchy and the bathroom is all rust, exposed pipes, and missing stall doors. Also, it's freezing here. But, on the bright side, it's in the Alleghenies.

In the meantime, UChiBlogo has a post about my Hum professor (and me!). Maybe he merits his own tag in this blog by now?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Neurosis returns!

I haven't had a lot of time to worry about being in grad school since I've spent most of it worrying about the logistics of getting to grad school in the first place. First applying, and then leaving my job and moving have clogged my neurosis pathways so that I haven't been able to be particularly anxious about classes and books and things like that. Moving books, yes. Reading them, no. But now, for two straight nights, I've had dreams about 1) going to class and 2) realizing after I've arrived that I have no pants on. This is a classic symptom of Miss Self-Important's academic derangement. It's been so long that I've almost begun to miss it.