Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Case Against Stevens-Henager College

Late in the year last year, a guest speaker from Stevens-Henager College came in to talk to my Concurrent Enrollment students about career preparation. She used my classroom projector to show samples of resumés and cover letters, and led discussions on interview skills also. The only part of this part of her talk that was out of date was her recommendation to include a career objective, a detail that's outdated. 

However, she started her presentation talking about Stevens-Henegar College itself, which I really did not appreciate, partly because I did not want her espousing a particular college to a captive audience. And then I noticed her use use of logical fallacies.

She mentioned that the average time to complete an Associates is four years, but at her school it takes 20 months. What she didn't mention that for those whom it takes four years, it's often because they're also working, or raising a family, etc., whereas she said nothing about those who might take breaks at her college. The audience is different; few schools offer Associate degrees (mostly community colleges, which accepts a wider range of students whose life situations, because they are older, may be more complicated than for younger students ). Not only that, but students often take more classes than are actually required for graduation (I did, as an undergrad: I didn't look at my classes that transferred from the college where I earned my associates to the college where I'd later earn by bachelor's degree).

The speaker did not mention that one of the reasons that the average degree completion time is so short is that students did not take any breaks; students did not have time off between semesters. To some of my classes did the speaker mention that students do not take as many general education classes as they do at Stevens-Henegar College, but she disparaged taking classes like bowling because, as her argument went, "When will you ever use or need these classes?" This is partly true; if a student takes a particular class, she may never use that information ever again, but there are multiple reasons for taking these classes:
  • You may, in fact, wind up using something you learned from these classes, but you won't know until you take that class, nor will you necessarily know what you will need to know right away.
  • You may discover an aptitude for the subject, or you may discover that you thought you had an aptitude but not to the extent you thought. (I discovered this when I briefly minored in physical anthropology, a subject I continue to find fascinating, but which, after barely passing the introductory class, I dropped.)
  • You may actually enjoy the class.
In other words, not everything will have a directly professional or personal application, but there might be elements that are, in fact, professionally or personally relevant. You don't need to have a degree in music performance to have this be an important part of your life.

A few students had questions about transfer credits; Stevens-Henegar College never accepts transfer credits, nor do their credits tend to transfer.

I will not allow representatives from Stevens-Henegar College back into my classroom; I did not appreciate my students being held captive to learn about a college that withheld information. Fortunately, I was able to talk to all my Concurrent Enrollment classes about this, and their excitement about completing a degree in such a short amount of time all but evaporated.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Problems with HOAs

There are an ever-increasing amount reasons I really dislike our current living arrangements. Our house itself is fine, if a bit small for us at the moment, but it's in a good location. I don't especially like that we're a gated community; this means that on a regular basis, packages don't get delivered because the delivery dudes can't get in. Usually we know we're expecting a package, but not always, and of course it's not practical to never leave the house because we might be getting an unexpected delivery.

Rather, it's the HOA itself that I really have begun to strongly dislike. As an entity, its passive-aggressive board dictates behavior that is unnecessary; half the time I feel like a small child. A few examples:

  • A few years ago, our trashcan broke (the lid fell off). Ed called around and discovered that the garbage company would replace the can for free, but we'd have to leave it out. Our HOA charges people $25 if the trashcan is left out more than (I think) 24 hours after trash pickup, so Ed called the HOA and left a voicemail explaining why the trashcan would be left outside. Unfortunately, the garbage company blipped and didn't get us a new trashcan right away, and someone from the HOA board came by, took a picture, and printed up a notice with a copy of this picture, and stuck it to our trashcan saying that the next time we didn't take in our trashcan, we'd be charged $25. Ed's car was parked in the driveway, so at least one of us was home. Instead of knocking on our door, we got a note.
  • One of our neighbors likes to restore old cars; he has (or had) one of those VW Beetles from the '60s he'd been working on for some time. The car was in his garage; he never kept tools on his driveway, and he never used any of the guest parking spots - he always kept his cars parked in his own driveway. Yet it was mentioned in multiple newsletters that restoring any car, even in one's garage, was not permitted.
  • Finally, in a newsletter we received just today, according to "governing documents," storing anything in a garage that prevents you from parking your vehicles in the garage is a violation. A garage can't be used for storage, in other words. (I'm sure there are people who store nothing in their garage, but I also know plenty of people who store things in their garage. We certainly do. Units in our housing development don't have attics or basements.)
I've really begun looking forward to moving.