Personal Update: Graduation and Hospitalizations

Hi everyone, I’m sorry for my lengthy disappearance from this blog. Life has been crazy for me. For starters, I spent the week before finals in the medical hospital due to one of my organs acting up.  It wasn’t fun, and it was quite painful, but I made it through the semester both graduating  with my degree and earning a spot on the Dean’s list.

Then, things got even crazier. I had to spend the better part of the month in psychiatric hospital due to some instability on my part. I am, of course, out now; however, it was really hard not to leave against medical advice. This particular hospital had a lot of violence between patients, but it did slow down after the first week I was there. I did manage to complete the program.

Nevertheless, I now see life through a clearer lens. I am very optimistic that I have solved my problems. Now, all I have to do is decide where I want to move to and what kind of career I want. I my struggles as old news, and I am now ready to move on with my new beginning.

To all my comrades going through mental health struggles, know when to get help and don’t be ashamed.


Personal Update: Looking Ahead to a Bright Future

I try not to fill my blog up with personal notes about myself; because, I doubt they are interesting. Still, a casual glance at my about page will show that I’m a university student. I study applied mathematics and computer programing. I’m also two classes shy of a philosophy minor and three classes away from a religious study minor. In any case, this is the last year of my college career, which is mind boggling!

But, why is it mind boggling? Well, for most people college is a difficult time, but for me I had added stresses. I have schizoaffective disorder among a couple other mental “problems.” I have been hospitalized six or seven times. (I lost track.) I was told many times by mental health professionals to give up and quit school. I was told it wasn’t healthy for me, but I am a very stubborn person. I guess.

My mathematics gave me purpose, and I just wasn’t willing to give it up so easily. It was my goal in life to graduate no matter what. I didn’t want to become someone who lived on government handouts their entire lives. (Now for some people that is necessary I’m not judging anyone, so please, don’t think that.) It just wasn’t for me.

Up until recently, I loved math and I hated it, but it wasn’t, really, the math I hated. It was the seemingly unending cycle of exams, quizzes, homework, and projects. The stress really agitated my mental condition for quite some time, but now, I am approaching the finish line. I am ready to soar!

I have confidence that I will land a nice STEM job and take care of my fiancé. I won’t make the best money, but it will be more than I make now. The sense of achievement is overwhelming.

Math saved my life!

Not everyone with my conditions are so lucky, but perseverance and self care are key. It’s important to not want to give up, but it is also important not to kill yourself over your goals.

If anyone has any questions or comments feel free to post them!

Are Universities Brainwashing our Kids?

Universities are supposed to be bustling with new ideas and be places of debate . They are supposed to be places of learning, but are they also places of brainwashing? This has been a debate for quite awhile. Many are worried that their young adults are being brainwashed, usually into secular progressiveness. I’m going to graduate soon, and I’m mulling over this issue.

First, let’s determine what this brainwashing could entail. For example, if grades were assigned based solely on whether or not the professor agreed with a paper or project, that would be a enormous problem. By contrast, how a paper should be graded does depend somewhat on the class. An English paper judges writing skill. Philosophy papers are supposed to be graded on the strength of arguments etc.  Another example of brainwashing might be if only the arguments supporting a professor’s stance were showcased in the readings and lectures.

As for me, I have run into very little of this. Still, universities are supposed to be, well, universities. They are not around to coddle to ideas that haven’t been questioned before, and many students probably have many ideas that they have never questioned. They may end up changing their positions after having thought more about them. That is only natural. Perhaps, they find the ideas they were raised with untenable.

Still if any the aforementioned unfair grading practices are being used, people everywhere should speak out. Our young adults minds are precious. That being said they are adults, and if they disagree with a particular professor’s point of view they should argue with them. That’s the point of it all.

Finals Week

Well, last week was finals week for me. I did a lot of studying. I, also, did a lot of stress vomiting. I consigned myself to calculating the minimum grade I needed on my finals to pass, and like I do every semester, I try to think of a better way to do end of the semester evaluations other than finals. My school like many schools doesn’t do too many Saturday and Friday classes, so there is essentially three days to study for four or more classes for full time students. Stress ensues, and I’m convinced there could be a better to evaluate a students acquired knowledge.

I, think, perhaps it would be better if students were given a week to study instead of weekend. Even though, that would lessen the amount of break students receive at the end of each semester. Now, many students might not use this week to study and then blow off studying until the weekend anyways. Still, this should not effect this “break.” Many students might procrastinate and some of them legitimately only need a weekend, but for other students it could be a god send. A week would reduce stress in a great many students lives. I think a week to study is reasonable, and I think it would work.

As always, tell me what you think!

Gen Ed Classes and Universities in the US

Some time ago I had a conversation with another student on the need for general education courses as part of a university degree. I don’t remember my response, completely, but the other student believed them to be an unnecessary waste of time. I will add that gen ed courses can take two years in and of themselves, if one takes them by themselves for four semesters. (I’m only considering bachelor’s of science. There are more requirements for a BA including a minor.)

Getting rid of gen ed courses might seem tempting. For one, it might be possible to graduate earlier ,and one might be able to focus better on one’s intended major. Perhaps, more electives in a student’s chosen field could become available, insuring a more in depth knowledge of the field. Also, the less courses that are required, the less money the student has to fork over.

However, universities weren’t originally designed just to give someone a degree in a particular field. They were designed to also create educated adults. Adults who would, hopefully, learn about many subjects in order to understand the world from multiple perspectives. These adults would in the process improve their critical thinking skills in the process. The issue is that many students don’t care about being an educated person. They care about getting a job and not drowning in debt.

As my undergrad career is almost over, I’ve learned to appreciate my gen ed courses. I’ve even taken extra courses in fields outside my own for no other reason than to learn something interesting. Most of the gen ed classes I’ve taken have professors who are well aware that their course is not the students’ main focus. They have other responsibilities that take priority. The expectations for these courses are very reasonable. In the process of taking these courses, I’ve learned very interesting things, and I’ve broadened my horizons. I’ve discovered new interests, and certain courses I wouldn’t have wished away, even if I could. Unfortunately or fortunately, I’m not everyone. Learning is my favorite hobby. I do take very seriously being “educated” as opposed to someone with a degree with only math and natural science courses.

Still, I think some of the complaints by my previous fellow student are to some degree reasonable. [Rant] Some small private schools have become attuned to these types of complaints. They offer minimal gen ed courses and a degree path. Of course, these schools can be notoriously bad. Their schools can be much more expensive than getting a degree at a university, even given the cost of gen ed courses. Often, the education they give is sub-par. Not to mention, most of them only offer two year degrees. They also sometimes have two year degrees in things that sound useful, but no one can find a job with that degree. Furthermore, the course they have are often not transferable to other colleges. This is a problem, if a student decides they don’t like the school. Beware of small private schools people! [/Rant]

Well, then what do colleges do about these situations? I would argue that gen ed is part of what makes a bachelor’s degree marketable. Many jobs care less about what a degree is in and more so that someone has one. Although, when it comes to some jobs, I care less about someone being “educated” than someone’s degree. (Most employers now want nurses to have their BSN.) I don’t care how my nurse did in philosophy unless the subject was an ethics topic. I care that she is good at something specific: nursing. Could universities offer these nursing students a minimal gen ed option? Perhaps. There are other similar situations such as actuaries and paralegals. If this is something colleges decide to do, it needs to be an option only. Some students and employers may really value an extra effort.

Let me be clear, without giving an exhaustive list, I think the minimal gen ed option should only be available to certain terminal non-academic lower paying degree paths. A philosophy major should, for example, should not have this option. It is necessary for reasoning, which what philosophy is, to know about the world and different viewpoints on different subjects. They need some history too, so yes, I care about how a philosophy undergrad did on their gen ed courses. This is true, especially, if they are planning on a graduate career. If anyone is applying to any grad school, I care about your gen ed!

Trigger Warnings University Edition

There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not certain courses or the material should come with a trigger warning. For example, some want trigger warnings on poems or books that depict rape scenes. On one side, there are people who are against trigger warnings. From their perspective, universities are supposed to be challenging even if certain topics make students feel uncomfortable. On the opposite side, their are people who argue that people should feel safe at universities. I disagree with both arguments.

While I agree in part with those who don’t advocate trigger warnings, I think it depends on what we mean by “trigger.” In lay people terms, “trigger” simply means something that makes someone uncomfortable. Most of the time, I think we are talking about making someone more than a little uncomfortable. Usually, the person triggered has experienced trauma, so “uncomfortable” is an understatement.

Still, it really depends on the trauma victim. I’m a survivor of abuse, and uncomfortable is generally the correct term for what I experience when abuse is brought up in conversation, books, and the like. However, not every trauma victim is as lucky as I am. Some experience PTSD, and this is a very different thing. Uncomfortable for these people is a very drastic understatement, when speaking about triggers.

Students who have PTSD are the ones I’m concerned about; because, I agree universities should be in the business of talking about uncomfortable topics. However, there are veterans, for example, who could potentially have PTSD who use GI bills to pay for school. Now some would argue trauma victims should seek treatment. Well, yes, they should. Still, they have a right to an education. Meanwhile, if someone is so emotionally damaged that they cannot handle even moderate triggers, then perhaps they should postpone an education.

I’m neither 100% for or against trigger warnings. I, do, think it depends on the content. A university professor, for example, should not be in the business of using gunshot noises without warning. Although, I do not know how that scenario would happen. Perhaps, what is needed is not so much trigger warnings. Instead, course should make clear the topics of the coursework during registration. This could simply be addressed in a subject line and some amount of an about section.

However, let me be clear: universities should not water down the material or coursework.