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College is easy September 7, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, engineering, teaching.
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Over the last couple years, I had run into the down side of teaching: students who don’t want to be there.  They come to class with a bad attitude, have no interest in learning something new, and generally complain about how boring and unfair you are.  (It’s even worse when you have quantitative measures showing that your grading is not significantly different than your colleagues for the same class, yet students ratings indicate higher levels of unfair grading for you than for those colleagues.)

But that’s what happens when you teach general ed classes, and you learn to live with it.

I recently ran into another kind of student I haven’t seen in a while: the overconfident student.  I recently got one of these.  He’s been indicating that he’s seen all the stuff I’ve presented, and then told me that college was easy.  This particular student comes from one of the larger high schools in the region and thus has probably had access to a lot of classes that have not been available to his classmates.  He’s seen things like calc and circuits.

I feel bad for him: he’s likely going to hit a wall at some point.

I know what the typical engineering student will have to go through, and even taking 17-20 credits of 100-level general ed courses doesn’t compare to what happens when you hit some of the ‘weeder’ classes.  If you manage to make it through those, the junior and senior level courses can often require overwhelming amounts of time.  I can think of at least one class (an optional one) that students will often put in 40 hours/wk on that class alone and end up with a C.

I admit that maybe I’m wrong and he’s just one of those kids who will fly through.   In fact, I’m hoping I’m wrong…but I’m also not betting on it.  I tried to tell him that it would likely get harder, but I don’t think he was listening.

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