Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Gap Year

When I heard that Malia Obama was planning to take a gap year before she went to college, I thought, More Millennials should be like her.

I've taught college students for a long time now. Unfortunately, some of them are not ready for college. To high school graduates, here are some signs that you're not ready for college yet:

1. You think that punctuality and attendance should be optional.

2. You spend more time staring at your cell phone than at your textbooks.

3. You keep your headphones on during class and then, when your teacher tells you to take them out, you say, "Why? Is the volume bothering anyone?"

4. You let your parents complain to your teacher about your grades or about the fact that you were penalized for breaking one (or more) of your teacher's rules.

5. You snore in class on a regular basis.

6. You say, "Hemingway/Shakespeare/Austen is so boring," after spending two hours "liking" posts and Tweets that say stuff like "Party like it's Friday" or "I love [insert pop icon's name here]!".

7. You think you're entitled to an A just because you showed up to class, which is the bare minimum.

8. You think it's okay to be absent for several weeks and then get upset when your teacher lowers your grade.

9. You spend the whole class time talking to your friends and then complain that you don't understand the material.

10. You say, "My printer/computer/roommate ate my homework," multiple times.

When students go to college before they're ready, they're more likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and unhappy. They struggle in their classes, and it's difficult for them to understand that their professors can't (and won't) help them with every single thing. Several of them get low grades, get suspended, or drop out of school altogether.

That's why I think some (though not all) students should take a gap year first. I don't think they should travel through Europe and expect their parents to pay for everything. They shouldn't sleep till noon all day and party all night.

Instead, they should get jobs, which may help them realize how important it is to work hard and continue their education. They should do volunteer work, so that they'll understand how important it is to help people. They should do research on the kinds of careers that they want to pursue, so that they won't graduate without any idea of what to do with their degree. They should take a couple classes at community colleges, in order to see what college life (and professors' expectations) is like before they commit to it full-time.

I think if they did that, they would be more likely to do well in college. Then professors like me would be less likely to end every workday by putting our hands to our faces and screaming like Macaulay Culkin did in Home Alone.

What about you? Did you take a gap year before you went to college? If you didn't, what would you have done if you had taken a gap year?

Monday, May 23, 2016

How to Be a Good Neighbor

1. Don't play electric guitar at 1:30 in the morning with your loser friends who are also playing electric guitar. This actually happened last night, to the point that I charged out of my apartment in my pajamas and asked them to keep it down. They responded by playing even LOUDER, which made me really wish that I could reenact that shower scene from Psycho.

2. Don't let your friends double-park their cars so that they're blocking your neighbors' cars. When I confronted my neighbors about doing this, they said, "We have guests. You have a driver's license; you figure it out." I responded by getting into my car and threatening to mow down their cars like I was at a monster truck rally, until they finally moved them.

3. Don't leave your trash on other people's patios. My neighbors keep doing this to me, so I picked up their trash and dropped it back on their patios, though I really wanted to use it to spell out the words "MOVE AWAY".

4. Lower your voice when you're outside with your friends. I've woken up at 2 A.M. multiple times, which is why I Googled "how to make people think their homes are haunted".

5. Don't park in your neighbors' spaces. I have told my loser neighbors not once, not twice, but TEN TIMES this past year to stay out of my space. If I let them park there, it's like I'm paying for their parking, which I'm not willing to do.

6. Don't leave your cigarette butts all over the parking lot. I want to use the cigarettes to spell out the words "YOUR HOME PLANET WANTS YOU BACK" in their parking spaces.

Do I sound a little high-strung right now? Maybe it's because I don't like being woken up at 1:30 in the morning by the sound of electric guitar and bad singing.

I think my neighbors' arrogant and inconsiderate behavior is partly due to the fact that the majority of them do not have jobs, so they don't understand that people who do work don't get to sleep until noon and stay up all night. Many of them are from different countries, and their governments and wealthy families provide free tuition and monthly stipends (of thousands of dollars). One of them has wrecked his car not once but twice and is now driving around a brand new $40,000 car (which he promptly dented in the third week). I've even seen maids going into their apartments, because God forbid they should learn to clean up for themselves.

Am I a little jealous? Maybe. I'm working two jobs just so I can pay my rent and debts and buy groceries, while they lounge around all day. They also have no respect for women, which would explain why they've been so nasty and disrespectful towards me. I finally went to my landlord today and told them that I would call the police (I found the local police number and put it on my phone) if those jerks played music that late again. For once, my landlord backed me up and said that I had every right to do so.

The only reason I don't just move is because I'm on a one-year lease; I'm within walking distance of campus; the rent is cheap; the apartment (aside from my loser neighbors) is nicer than any that I've ever lived in; I can't afford another move right now.

What about you? Have you ever had inconsiderate or rude neighbors? How did you deal with them?

By the way, sorry I've been MIA lately. My computer is broken, so I apologize if I can't get back to everyone right away. I have to use the computers at school until mine is fixed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

You Can't Go Home Again...Or Can You?

Reasons to Leave Small Town:

1. When I first moved here, my employers hired me on a one-year contract, but they said that the position was renewable for up to three years. Now they're telling me that due to a new policy set by Human Resources, they may only be able to renew my contract for one more year.

2. Too many students told me, "I have to leave class twenty (or forty) minutes early today. Can you just tell me what I'm going to miss?"

3. I found out that there's a job opening for a more secure position at a school in the Chicago area.

4. Too many students gave excuses for not having their papers ready, like "I forgot," or "My WiFi wasn't working...again," or "My computer ate my homework."

5. This year, I taught literature and freshman composition classes. But next year, my employers said that they need me to just to teach writing, due to enrollment and staffing issues. At the Chicago school, I'd get to teach more literature classes.

6. I've heard more than one person say to me, "Don't tell me you're a liberal," as if I'd just admitted to being a bank robber, a serial killer, or a One Direction fan.

7. I've taught at that Chicago school before, and I remember that the students were very disciplined. None of them ever came in late or missed too many classes, and most of them turned in their work on time.

8. I'd really like to walk into a store or a cafe without hearing banjo music.

9. When (not if) Small Town Guy gets a new girlfriend, I'd rather not stick around and listen to them say things like, "We're moving in together!" or "We went shopping for rings today." Then I might say, "I'm thinking of adopting some cats."

10. I miss Chicago. I went there for a few days to visit, and some lady threw a cup of what may or may not have been urine at me and screamed, "Get a job (insert expletive here)!" A guy on the El hit on me on the train. When I ignored him, he got mad, picked his nose, and wiped it on my coat. But I was so happy to be back in the city that I loved that all I thought was, "Ah, Chicago. It's good to be home."

Reasons to Stay in Small Town:

1. I can't really afford to move again. The move to Small Town cost thousands of dollars, and I am still paying off some of the debts. I'd have to borrow money from my parents, and I'd rather listen to banjo music and excuses from my students than another lecture from my parents about money.

2. In Chicago most of my friends had already moved on to other cities or states. The ones that were still there lived in the suburbs and were busy with spouses and children. So I was alone a lot, which made me become even more of a workaholic. In Small Town, I've made several nice friends who I socialize with regularly. Being with them made me realize that there should be more to life than work.

3. The faculty at this school have been very kind, supportive, and welcoming to me.

4. I like living in a larger apartment that costs hundreds of dollars less than my tiny studio in Chicago, and I like having my own washer and dryer, which is something I've never had before.

I really thought I'd never live in Chicago again. But when this job opportunity came up, I decided to apply for it and see what happens. Chances are, I won't get the job, and I'll be in Small Town for another year. But if I do get that job, it will be hard to leave my new friends behind. I can't stay just for them, though.

What about you? Have you ever been torn between two places when it came to deciding where to live or work?