Friday, August 31, 2007

The Fall Lineup

I am excited about this semester. This semester isn't really any more or less exciting than the other semesters of my graduate program, but I have two specific reasons why this semester merits blogging. First, quite simply, I've been trying to blog more. Second, I am expecting several assignments to be blogged from this semester, so I thought you should have a heads up.

Counseling Theories
-- I am actually a little giddy about this class. I like theory classes, and I like this professor. This is the first class I've had with him, but he did come with us to Europe so we already have a relationship. He has already read to us from Alice in Wonderland, and if you are ever interested I'll explain to you the Dodo Verdict. This is also the class I expect to be blogging assignments from. We have several guided reflections assigned throughout the semester to help us understand our opinions on psychotherapy. The final reason that I am excited is because when I was looking at graduate programs, psychology and counseling was an area that I was heavily looking into. In the end I felt I wasn't prepared for it. Public Relations has given me information that I have used repeatedly in my program, but I think it would have left me lacking in psychology. Hopefully from this class I can either set aside those regrets, or discover my calling.

-- I'll admit it does not actually sound like the most interesting class. There is so much that I am going to learn from it though. Top on my list is understanding the university budget. I think that I already have the basics of budgeting down, and a comfort working with numbers. What I am looking forward to is the from practice advice of my professor and our guest speakers. I can break a budget down to income and expenses, but I don't have a true understanding of how that money flows within education. I will be learning a lot in this class.

Grant Writing
-- This class is going to be a little different for me. I work in our university's Sponsored Programs Office, so I will hopefully already know most of what will be presented in the class. I am excited though, because this semester I will be switching roles. At work I search for funding opportunities and try to help proposal writers think about their idea so they can be matched up with what the funders actually want to spend money on. For class, I'll get to pretend that I am passing out the money and critically review proposals. My class project is also exciting. I am working on helping undergraduates get funding to do their research. It is a grant program that I was a part of as an undergrad so hopefully, I can encourage more than normal to apply. I also like the idea of promoting undergraduate research. Far too much of my undergraduate experience was still passive. I went to class and waited for information to be given to me. I hope that promoting undergraduate research on our campus will inspire some more active learning.

Another place that you will be seeing homework from, is my trip to Europe. We had an assignment while we were there to keep a journal. I plan on typing that up and sharing it (with pictures) here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Personality Pigeonholed

Once a year, everyone in my office takes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. We then have a counselor come in and talk to us about our results and how our personality types are played out in our work styles and how we work together. I've only taken the Myers-Briggs twice with my office, but I've probably done it more than a dozen times since I've started at UCA. I like the Myers-Briggs. I like people using it as a tool to explore themselves. I like people learning about different personality types, and I like people working to teach themselves how other people think and react differently than they do. I think it is very useful. However, I also think people can take it too much to heart.

I am simply annoyed with people looking at me and saying, "Oh, so you're an ENTJ," as if it explains everything there is to know about me. I just want to tell them, "No, I just happened to be in an ENTJ mood when I took that test." My type indicator has never come back the same. I've always been an E and the other three letters are up in the air. I'm always very balanced on the other sections. My results usually come back saying that I am 50%-50% or 52%-48%. This year my J was 55% on the online test and my P was 55% on the written test, which means within two days I changed from Judging to Perceiving. The counselor always starts by telling us that balance is the goal and that they are scaled. So you can strive to be more Sensing if you are Intuitive and just because your results say you are Intuitive doesn't mean you are strong in that. You may still have traits in the other. Once she explains that, everybody seems to forget it.

I like to make lists because I like to check things off, but I don't loose sleep about the things on my lists not being accomplished. I love to plan out my vacations in advance, but once I get there I am happy to throw those plans out the window. I like to make decisions by weighing all the factors. I consider peoples' feelings to be a factor that needs to be weighed along with all the logical ones. I like to do projects that have detailed instructions and clear goals, but it is also exciting and revitalizing to where I get to be creative and make my own goals. Even when it comes to my Extroversion versus Introversion. I'm becoming more of an introvert every time I take it. Please just understand that ENFP does not define me.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I've been tagged

Priscilla from Rathbone Images tagged me and now I have to tell you 8 things that you don't know about me. Coming up with 8 things has taken me a couple days. I'm not sure if I am that open or if I just don't have anything about me that is exciting enough to be a secret, but here is what I came up with. (If you already knew this about me, then pretend it is a surprise.)

1. I don't think everyone should go to college. Of course, I have to clarify that. I've noticed that college is earning the reputation of grade 13, and I don't think that graduating high school and going directly to a 4 year institution is best for everyone. Some people will benefit more from technical training, military service (preferably not in wartime), associates degrees, or even work experience more than they will from grade 13. I do think that there are parts of a liberal arts education that will benefit everyone no matter what choices they pursue in life, but I think it is unfair that we make them wait for college to share these skills and experiences. I also think that their rising costs are becoming ridiculous.

2. I am a first generation college graduate. I know you don't know this, because I didn't know it until after I graduated. Just think of all the support I could have needed and all the campus resources I could have turned to if I had only known. I don't think that I actually faced the lack of family support that many first generation undergraduates deal with, but I now understand what it might have been like. My grandmother was so proud when I graduated. That's when she told me that I was the first in our family to finish. It wasn't until after I told her that I was starting my masters that she said, "More school?! Don't you think you need to acting like an adult and getting a job?"

3. I will dedicate part of my life to Sesame Workshop. I am passionate about Higher Education, and I have a lifetime to add what I can to it, but I also have to spend some time on this cause. I got my BA in Public Relations to work for an organization like this. Their mission is incredible and the work they are doing around the world is amazing. I want to be a part of that.

4. I think that honors students and at risk students have a lot of the same needs when starting college. I think that they have these needs for different reasons, but both groups need special attention. They need help learning how to manage their time, learning study skills, and learning how and when to ask for help. Many 4.0 students are 4.0 because they weren't challenged in high school so they don't immediately know how to handle the challenges that college offers.

5. I want to teach a class in Second Life. I've never taught a class, and I would like to do that too, but I am very excited about the opportunities that online communication and virtual communities are opening up. I think they have the potential to completely change the purpose of higher education and continue to push the sage on the stage cliche out of universities to make room for an interactive and interdisciplinary place. That and having cat people in my class seems pretty cool too.

6. I'm thinking about getting another Master's degree. I know that two masters' don't equal a PhD, but I think I want to learn some Sociology. One of my field's worst weaknesses is the lack of research. I want to prioritize that in my life, and I am thinking that studying some Sociology might be a way to pursue that. Then again, Psychology sounds awfully fun too...

7. I use to be really good at math. I'm not saying you don't know this, but being a communications undergrad I ran into a lot of situations where it was assumed that I was no good at it. Sadly, I'm not good any more because I haven't used it so I've forgotten a lot. Now when I look at an algebra or calculus problem I don't know where to begin, but I recognize that I use to. I loved proofs in high school!

8. Completely not education related: I have a favorite stained glass window. I didn't know I could have a favorite stained glass window until I actually discovered it. I grew up Catholic so I've visited many churches and awed at many windows, but this one took my breath away. It is hidden away in a corner room of a magnificent church in Aachon, Germany. If you ever find yourself wandering around Aachon, I recommend you see it.

Now for the 8 blogs I must tag. This is a selfish list of people I want to post. Some because I don't want them to be abandoned, some because they make me smile, and others just because they have me curious.
Knee of the Curve
The twenty-fourth year
My little blog
Polished Rose

Added Bonus: A warm fuzzy moment

A while ago I posted about a study that placed students struggling in math in two different extra classes. One class was taught study skills and the other was taught how the brain works. This week someone googled child struggling with math and came to my blog. It makes me feel wonderful that there is a possibility that my blog might have provided interesting or useful information for a complete stranger. I'm feeling warm and fuzzy inside about it, so I wanted to share.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's Alive!

At the end of last semester I was exhausted, sleep deprived, and dealing with finals stress. I was so happy when the students left and the campus cleared out. I felt like there was a possibility of finding a moment to breathe. Today is the first day of class, and I didn't realize how much I missed having everyone here. It is so nice to have the campus alive again, and it has a special type of excitement right now. Everything is optimistic and welcoming. The freshman are excited; the upperclassmen are greeting and hugging friends they haven't seen in months. Nobody is worried about bad grades, and the dreading of tests and large assignments hasn't begun. I realize that I am able to find this so wonderful because of all the work people have put into welcome week. I wouldn't blame them if they are feeling they way I feel by the end of the semester, but I'm glad that I can enjoy today refreshed and excited. I had forgotten the little things about it being full, like how quick a walk across campus seems when there are a half a dozen acquaintances to to smile and wave at along the way. It is going to be a great day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Campus Visit: WKU

This weekend my little brother graduated from boot camp at Ft. Knox in Kentucky. My friend Cindy and drove up to watch the ceremony. Since we were driving right past Western Kentucky University we decided to stop by on the way home and visit the Honors College. I had the opportunity to meet a couple of the honors people and learn a bit about their program during a conference at UCA this summer. Unfortunately, I didn't know how long I was going to be at Ft. Knox so I couldn't really make plans with them. Despite us just dropping by, we were warmly welcomed, and given tours of both the office and the campus. It was a beautiful campus!
Here is the Honors Center. They are currently working on a lot of big changes to that little house. I will be really neat to see in a few months time.

Here are several of the honors residential halls. It was a slightly honors heavy tour, but when you have honors alums talking to an honors director, that is bound to happen.
This is the Mass Media and Technology building. I took a picture of it because it is clearly a beautiful building, but I was also excited to see mass media and technology written side by side in stone. Too often I find them to be two separate groups of people that don't talk to each other enough.

This is the Gunthrie memorial and tower. They are a beautiful focal point on campus and I believe that it is the tower that is being used in the WKU logo.

This is the huge and breathtaking student center called Downing University Center. It is just as gorgeous inside.

This colonnade is another beautiful spot on campus. If I remember correctly the colonnade was left from their old stadium. In place of where the field was, there is now the fine arts building. They are now fully prepared to have gatherings both inside and out. This colonnade is also part of the logo for the honors program there.

Here are just a couple more this campus is beautiful pictures:

It was really nice to visit another campus. UCA has spoiled me, and I owe this campus a lot, but it is the only institution that I've been at. I've been here for six years and it can easily become a whole little world of its own. It is fun to get out every so often and see what is going on elsewhere.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Growing Up is Hard to Do

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got the sense in Europe that they seem to think many of the services we offer students at the Higher Ed level are babying them. I agree with a lot of their education ideals and policies, and the students I met were incredibly mature. So, I've been wondering if I agree with that. I've come to the conclusion that I don't think offering them these services is babying them, but we don't always treat them like adults either. Sometimes this is our own fault, and other times it is out of our control. For example, something that is completely my fault is that I call them kids. I'm barely older then them, and I'm a student myself, but using the term kids keeps me from thinking of them as adults. I could be argued that because I am so close to them in age it is important that make that distinction between us. Good or bad, because I use that term I treat them differently.

Something that we have less control over would be working along with parents who refuse to treat them like adults. One of the students I advised came in with his father. His father sat down across from me at the desk which forced his son into a corner chair. He then explained to me that he was there because "my son is not yet 18." He continued to talk to me like his son wasn't in the room and we were discussing legal issues. When ever I tried to talk to the student, he wouldn't look at me and always looked to dad to answer for him. It was very hard to treat him like an adult.

Of course the difference between us and Europe is cultural. During our pre-trip, how not to be insulting in Europe meetings, we were told that if we end up talking to any children, we should treat them the same way we treat adults. Many cultures believe that the transition from child to adult can be made over night. The child just has to reach a certain age, participate in a ceremony, or have some important event happen. In America we don't go from child to adult. We go from infant to terrible twos, to toddler, to child, to adolescent, to young adult, to adulthood. Then we still get to look forward to middle aged, over the hill, and retiree. I've watched as society has embraced the term tween. I was never a tween. I may have been a preteen, but if so I didn't know it. Why do we have so many stages?

When I was in psychology* the leading theorist in cognitive development was Piaget. He presented 4 stages of development. According to his theory we begin the final stage as a preteen and we may never finish that development. The theories that I know of that have been adapted from or are related to Piaget usually have somewhere between three and five stages. Six stages wouldn't surprise me, but I don't think I have ever seen it. Since studying that I have learned about the psychological process that students may go through when faced with certain situations, but not any continual psychological development of students. I am not claiming that there is not any more brain development. What I'd like to point out is that I haven't heard of any more so I am assuming that most people haven't heard of any more. Why then, is society accepting these different stages? Are they being presented to us by psychologists, or are they being presented to us by advertisers. Did the people who develop and market Bratz realize how desperately eleven and twelve year old girls want to be thirteen and create the classification tween to market directly to them.

I'm generally in support of direct marketing and audience targeting, but we have added a slew of transitions to the growing up process. Are we making it easier or harder to grow up. I understand that if you transition from child to adult over night you could could be given a load of responsibility that you are not prepared for and the expectations can be daunting, but are baby steps making it better? Or are they just making it easier to put off accepting those responsibilities? Is it making it harder for adults to give those responsibilities? That may feed right back into my generation's work ethic. We still have stages of growing to transition through so we haven't been given responsibility. Since we haven't had responsibility, we don't care about it or know how to handle it.

*Disclaimer: I have not studied much psychology. As an undergrad I only took a general education psychology course, and as a graduate I've taken a student development course that had some psychology theories in it, but it was not a psychology based course. I think it is fair to believe that my psychology education is at or above the American average so I think it is enough to be applicable to my topic. I do welcome any additional information because I find this topic fascinating.