Friday, March 23, 2007

FAQ -- answered

Since I went to large schools when I was an undergraduate, I didn't get to know my professors very well and almost never saw them outside of class. For those reasons, and because I spent most of my spare time trying unsuccessfully to bring down the Reagan administration and, equally as unsuccessfully, find an occasional date, it never occurred to me to ask my professors any of the personal, and sometimes, weird questions I get on a regular basis. So I will take a slow Friday afternoon to unravel a bit of the mystery, a mystery I don't find terribly interesting.

What were you like in college?

Like I am now with even less money.

Did you ever go out during the week or did you study all the time?

I studied first, and then I went out, usually on Thursdays. I didn't have enough money to go out more than one night per week (not including weekends).

Did you have a serious girlfriend?

Unless you count six dates with four different girls a "serious girlfriend" . . . no.

Why not?

Ask them.

Were you active in politics?

Not at all. I attended college in fairly small towns, and no one was really active in politics. College towns are pretty self-enclosed environments. I knew a lot of people with very strong opinions who were also interested in ideas. But it wasn't at all like the undergraduate student body at American. The intellectual quotient was far higher; the ambition meter much lower.

Did you have a job in college?

Several. I worked for the athletic department at the University of Missouri tutoring Division I football and basketball players. One of my "students" was Steve Stiponovich, who went on to play in the NBA for a few years. My experience with big-time Division I athletics in college really soured me on college sports forever. Unless you have been a cog in that machine or had an inside view of how it really operates (I have had both views), you cannot imagine how dishonest and corrupt the big programs really are.

I also worked as a dishwasher and waiter in various food service establishments. The funnest job I ever had was as a part-time waiter at the Delta Gamma sorority house, right across the street from where I lived.

I did not, though, have a serious pre-professional job or internship in college. I have always thought that college is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to explore ideas and interests simply because you find them interesting. I took classes because they sounded interesting, not because I thought I they might prepare me for something else or give me an advantage in the job market.

So what do you think of the emphasis that your university places on the internship?

I think it is effective marketing. I think maybe one experience is a good thing; beyond that, I think college is for reading, thinking and learning. From a professor's perspective, the emphasis on the practical dimension of the undergraduate experience takes away from classroom learning.

Do you care what people think of your opinions?

No. If I can get people to think and talk about topics of interest to me, how can that be bad?

To be continued . . .

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