Thursday, June 16, 2011

Advising II: Journalism and Business

I love my summer job!  I get to see a variety of freshman and transfers.  They all present new challenges to me and I try and problem solve for them.  So far, I have done an excellent job at ticking the boxes and explaining what they need to graduate.  I have a reason for doing this job well:

My freshman advisor screwed me over.  My sister's freshman advisor's screw up was worse.  She needed two core classes to get into her Education program and she wasn't told about them.  So, thankfully, my sister was able to get into summer courses.  The worst that mine did was put me in a French class I didn't want (blargh) and sign me up for 18 credit hours because she couldn't count.  For this reason, I have memorized the requirements for Pre-Ed and I always count off the number of credit hours in front of the student.

I like my students.  They are generally bright.  Their parents are sometimes crazy awesome.  I had one mom popping one liners out left and right!  Her son was such a sweetie.  I had a great time with them.  I even asked if she could be the voice in my head when I need a come back.  She was a hoot.  I have other parents who are clearly confused and just want answers.  Their kid is sitting there, near tears, and the parents just want to help.  It's my job to help them.  A lot of times they get defensive at first.  I have realized why - the other pre-whatever advisors have really done a crappy job explaining things and they feel as though I will also ignore their questions.

I won't.  Once I make that clear, they really help me understand their student's abilities/needs and become helpful rather than problematic.

One main issue I have had is that students come to me "undeclared" and then want to say they are going to declare Business or Journalism.  Now, we have the number one J-School in the country.  I get it.  It's a great program.  Our business program is also good.  However, we cannot have students doing both and graduating in a reasonable time.

I have designed a way to handle this.

Ask one question:  Do you like math?

Usually students either love it or hate it (I HATE it, did not want to follow Dad into one of the country's most prestigious business schools).  I had one student who barely passed pre-calc in school, did poorly on a placement exam, and then heard he would have to take four math classes and flat out said no to business.  Others say, "Why do I have to take accounting?"  Well, because that is pretty much a foundation of business. If they like math, I encourage them to look over the other requirements.  At this point, they usually want to go business.  If still not sold, I ask if they like writing and the social sciences - all big requirements of  Journalism. The answer: usually no.  Furthering reinforcing business.

Students that hate math usually love writing.  And for this reason, Journalism is the better fit.

Of course, then there is student A.  Student A is a smart kid.  He has a bunch of AP's and Dual Credits coming in.  He has done well on math placement.  And then when he comes in, he says, "I want to do Journalism, Business, and Pre-Law."

Wow.  This is even more confusing, but thankfully I am who I am and can help him understand what a Pre-Law major looks like.  As I talk to him, I find he hates math, even though he is good at it.  He likes writing, but not necessarily journalism.  So, I slide Poli Sci in there as an option.  His parents ask, "What jobs are there?"  Same question my dad asked when I said my junior year of high school that that was what I planned to do for the rest of my life.

I explained the options, talked to them about other "flavors" of poli sci outside of American Government.  They suddenly think I am the coolest grad student ever and say they can't believe their kid lucked out.  I laughed because I can't be his advisor for the fall.  Faces fall and I feel loved because they are actually going to miss me.  I give them my email and they say they are going to email me when they get home - and they do!

Coolest kid and parents ever.  Moral of the story - ask questions.  Kids don't know what they want to do.  Parents may have no clue what their kids options are - hence Journalism and Business!  But the best major is rarely so obvious.  For this kid, it appears he really loves political science and wants to make it his major.  I handed him off to our departmental advisor and got butterflies.  That was a great day.  I love when I can convert one to the dark side.

I do love this work.  Hopefully someday when I am a director of u-grad studies I can pass it along to some more awesome kids!

Living on $60.00/week

So, my goal for the end of this summer is to do two things:
1. pay down my medical debt - I currently owe $2450.00 to the hospital for emergency surgery.
2. pay off my credit cards.

This summer, I took an advising position that lasts about 5 weeks.  I work mostly half days advising freshman and transfer students.  My coworkers are great and I love my supervisors.  The pay is great, too. I make $750.00 for the five weeks.  It's great pay per hour and I am very thankful.  Most important, I am learning a ton from my students and colleagues alike.  I have contemplated over the past year possibly looking to become a DUS (director of undergraduate studies) since I really like mentoring my undergrads and am honestly more interested in developing them as human beings than just grading papers.  I may have some disdain for living with them or working out next to 100 lb perfect tan sorostitutes who are blathering away on the phone in the quiet room, but I realize that there are annoying people everywhere and college kids are particularly entitled.  I want to work to change that and open their eyes up to service, research, and knowledge.

I thought this job would be a great start.  It has allowed me to subsist through the summer without paychecks.  God answered my prayers, it all worked out, and now I am going to get some cash.  It's awesome, really.

Anyhow, because of my medical debt, I don't get to have a ton of fun this summer.  After running my budget, I am living on $60.00 of money for personal expenses, food, eating out, etc a week.  I realize when I put things on my CC in the summer, I have no clue what I am spending because a lot of my expenses are not the same.

$40.00 of this goes to food alone, generally.  Today I did shopping for the week ahead.  I bought a thing of paper towels, a huge thing of dish detergent, cheese, Chobani greek yogurt (I am obsessed and it keeps me healthy), pepsi throwback, organic pasta sauce, lunch meat, Magnum bars (which are my splurge), and some other staples.  With coupons, my total was $39.81.  And this is at the most expensive supermarket in town.  Every couple of weeks, I go to Aldi.  I buy a lot of staples there.  TBH, I kind of love it there.  I love the chocolate and the baking products as well as their new croissants.  Eh, they're American forms of croissants, but they are still damn good.

The other $20.00 I am trying to save.  No one is eating out right now.  We are all dirt poor, so that works.  The $20.00 will go towards my time spent with my best friend Abi who is coming in from the UK in a month. We will go have some cheap fun, no doubt.

Because I have a terrible espresso addiction, I try not to buy coffee out.  I will drink black drip coffee fine, but in the morning, I prefer to have a cappuccino or a mocha.  I had a moka pot, but that blew up.  I had a coffee pot, it broke (each within two days of one another!).  So, now I have a $36.00 espresso machine.  I was doubtful at first, but it is a great little machine.  I have easily saved $36.00 in coffee since I owned it.  The premium beans I buy range from $8.00 - $13.00 for half a pound and when I buy a pound, I get a free cup of coffee.  A half pound lasts me a month.  Milk is cheap.  Hershey's syrup is cheap.  $36.00 is less than 8 grande mochas.   People think I am nuts, but I refuse to pay to eat out when I can make something just as good at home.  I feel the same way about food.  I am a good cook.  I made lamb steak that I got on special last night.  It was $7.00 for a pound and a half.  I will get three meals out of it.  That would cost $20.00 out.  I go out once every few weeks, but I don't need to do it every day.

Because of the credit card problem, I have decided to take $60.00 out of the my account on a weekly basis. I only use my card for fixed expenses like gas.  When I fill up, it will be between 30 and 45 dollars.  I only fill up once every 3-4 weeks. I take my bike when possible.  The rest, is because my car gets great gas mileage.

I can do it.  I can get through the summer AND enjoy myself!