Friday, September 19, 2008

sad and frustrated.

So, I work at a small 2-year college. Well, the campus I am at is small. When I interviewed over the phone and they described the school to me, "disadvantaged" was the word used to describe the students. They weren't kidding when they said that a good number of the students had never used a computer before. We're talking basic don't know the difference between right click and left click/how to cut and paste type of stuff here.

Which is really cool- the school has a philosophy of eliminating the barriers to a college education and helping all students succeed. That is awesome, and something I can really get behind.

The problem is that some students really can't succeed in college. It's just not possible. There's not a way to really draw the line and say, um, really you shouldn't be here... but I spent two hours with a student today trying to get through the process of registering for her classes. Not actually thinking about which classes to take, simply logging into her account and transcribing the class information that her advisor had written on the form. TWO HOURS. That's not even doing any thinking work related to school, merely trying to register. It wasn't altogether a computer skills deficiency, as she definitely had the clicking basics down (gah! clicking a million times does NOT make it go faster! chill!), it was the little things like figuring out what her social security number was- I had reset her password to the last (certain number redacted for security) digits of her social. I told her, your social is 9 digits long, take of the first (certain number) and type in the rest... couldn't do it. and then, couldn't figure out what I was saying when I was telling her that in copying the section number from the advisor written form, she had added a digit. She just couldn't understand what I was saying, couldn't conceptualize it, or refused to actually turn on her ears and listen - I'm not sure.

It was so frustrating, for me - it had to have been frustrating for her too, right? (she's a returning student, keep in mind she's had to do this process before) If she has this much problems simply registering for the classes, how on Earth does she think she's going to actually complete the classes? I'm a pretty patient person, but she had completely pushed my buttons.

There's really no point to this tirade other than to vent. It's frustrating because, as much as I'm there to help students succeed, there's just only so much I can do. There's only so much the institution can do, and there is a certain threshold that needs to be met before the institution can even begin to meet the needs of the student. At what point, after how many Fs, can you tell a student that they're just not cut out for this? It's frustrating and it's sad.

What a bummer day.

On the bright side, Webster is getting way more comfortable in the apartment, just in time for Ranger Man to come home and throw off our routine!

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