The College Improving Thread

Zanardi

Woodpecker
I got the idea for this thread from this one.

The main idea is this: I am exactly a College/ University lecturer, 37 y.o., from a city north of Bucharest, Romania, teaching exactly computer science. I don't know how good or bad is the American or the western system but in our faculty, there is no such thing as political discussion, leftism and whatnot. Or, at least I am not aware of.

When I came into teaching, my chief mission is not to make the mistakes my previous teachers made. I try to keep my lectures interactive (so as my students don't get bored) and practical (explaining programming and CS concepts through every day examples). I try to have a chill, relaxed atmosphere (I was never fond of the authoritarian system that prevailed in early 2000s) and to get closer to my students (as an example having small talk with them during breaks or outside school), not judging them not holding grudges, and making sure they understand that I have nothing personal with them and I am correcting their professional mistakes, even if they don't like it at first.. So far so good, they respond very well to my teaching style (doing this since 2012) and they know very well that, to have this relaxed atmosphere, we must also do our job. I got only once a complaint from a student, but it turned out it was a misunderstanding and everything came back to normal.

The same thing I want to apply on my courses side. I don't want to be the professor that teaches for 20 years the same obsolete things, but I am also aware that, to keep up with the times, I'll need to keep learning. On one side it's good for experience, but I don't want to become the jack of all trades, master of none kind of person.

So, what I'd like to know from you is what would you do to improve what happens in colleges. From what I understood in that topic and one of Roosh's articles, college is a waste of time. Very well. What would you do and/or change so as it won't be anymore a waste of time. What do you think I should do, as the person on the other side of the barricade?

PS: please, no "quit your job" type of answers. I love my job very much and I want to do it right.
 

jakester318

Sparrow
I respect your question because you seem like a concerned individual from the inside of the very institutions I criticized. Although I applaud you for your personal commitment to creating a valuable product for your students, I don't think you are in a position to do anything about it because the problem is much bigger than you or me. But, I'll humor you with my take on what I'd do to improve what happens in colleges.

First off, a little background. In the US, colleges/universities charge exorbitant amounts of money because they can: students and parents are ignorant and no matter how much money they are charged, they will pay it. But perhaps that is changing now. At least with men it is. Last I checked the ratio of men to women in college was something like 4.4 vs 5.6 out of 10. So for every 10 students, only 44% are male. Men realized what was happening and got out of college, I think. Anyway, so because colleges have a seemingly unlimited demand, they continue to charge a shit ton of money because people keep paying it, and it's backed by the US government in the form of student loans.

Secondly, but why are colleges charging so much money? Quite simply, because they are hiring non-teaching professionals and paying them bloated salaries. It's not uncommon to walk into a typical college and find the assistant to the assistant dean of the cultural studies school. Multiply that across several departments and you have an enormous amount of staff that do not generate revenue for the college. The professors are the ones generating revenue because they are the product being sold to students. But sadly, colleges hire adjunct professors and pay them very meager salaries while the assistant to the assistant dean gets paid probably much more than the professor does and gets benefits the professor does not.

Which brings me to the heart of the problem and that's product quality. Because adjunct professors make so little, the college probably doesn't care much about the quality of the professor, as long as she isn't a felon and has the illustrious PhD certificate. For tenured professors, they are more interested in their research and teaching is what they do to fulfill and obligation put on them by the college. But for many of them, they are not impassioned teachers, but indentured servants who really want to sell books and publish research, not teach moronic Freshmen, etc.

So I've identified what the problem is but what's the solution? Well, if I had the power to change things, I'd start by reviewing college departments and establishing what's necessary and what isn't. Shit can a bunch of non-essential staff and start reviewing the quality of instructors I have to determine some rating system of quality and assigning a number to each professor. Then I'd personally welcome student feedback to determine whether my analysis of professors is the same as the students. Basically, do I think professors are as good or bad as the students do? This will help me establish a baseline. I would then evaluate each professor 1x1 and understand what they need from me. Are they limited in any way to do their job better? Are they passionate about what they are doing? I might also encourage them to reconsider their profession in light of my analysis and feedback from students. Perhaps more shit canning needs to be done.

Lastly, I would hire new professors that were motivated and eager to teach and give them each an opportunity to showcase their teaching style and be given a rating. This way you will know whether or not a professor wants to read from PowerPoint or not and then evaluate each instructor from time to time to ensure your product quality stays top notch. Once I've gotten a handle on all of this, I would start looking at my tuition rates and determining what's fair based upon market analysis and demand. Incentive students to come based upon product quality and a fair rate of tuition.

Hopefully by now you can see that this issue is far bigger than you initially think it might be and thus, there ain't no damn way you or I are changing a thing.
 
From an American:

1) Stop the government from backing the loans.
2) Bring back IQ tests and only allow the smartest to go to college.
3) Replace the k-12 system with future skills like sales, financial, and coding. Teaching people about critical race theory is stupid and pointless. About 6 months ago I was talking to a professor about whether or not college is useful in this day and age and he wanted to talk about how critical race theory should be taught in higher ed.
4) Tax university endowments.
 
It is good to see a lecturer take such an interest in teaching.

College is not a waste of time for every course for every student. It depends. A lot of scientists and engineers are hired for mostly non-techincal roles, and they may say that they never use what they learned. For them, yes. But for others, it would be next to impossible to go into practice without years of study.

A few suggestions:

Stay in touch with former students who work in industry--see what they learned that helped them, and what they wish they new more about. Not just specific technology, but everything they need to succeed.

For programming well structured programs are key. I think back when Pascal was the "teaching language", it helped. Would have been nearly impossible to write spaghetti code in it. In college students will do a program for an assignment and that is that. Try cranking out multiple per month for a company, and then having to go back to one that you made five years ago to modify it. If you have no memory of the project but can follow precisely how the program works, that is a wonderful moment.

Not sure how to teach it, but the highly valued programmers are the ones who can manage projects and work well with the client, be it an internal client or otherwise. I have seen programmers of modest, but competent, programming skill do very well simply because they worked well with others. A lot of IT people look down on the users, telling jokes about them using CD players for cup holders, etc. Meanwhile many departments in a company see the IT department as a waste of time and develop their own systems. If users have to deal with really poor people skills and arrogance, they will just do themselves. In the US at least, if Microsoft Access were to disappear tomorrow about half of all companies with an IT department would cease to operate, and it would be a complete surprise to most CIO's because their IT departments were not developing with it, rather other departments were developing with it because IT was hard to work with.

Help the motivated students to go further--hand outs, etc., leading them into interesting directions will be ignored by most but valuable to some. If you are into computer science, more than IT, maybe give some leads to SQL, for example. Some day maybe that is just what they need, and if they know it is out there and have played with it that will help a lot.

Other thing, for any and all teaching, is it does no good, actually anything but good, for students to practice doing things the wrong way. If possible, quiz and give small assignments to catch who is not getting it before they get so far behind the course is a waste.
 
From an American:

1) Stop the government from backing the loans.
2) Bring back IQ tests and only allow the smartest to go to college.
3) Replace the k-12 system with future skills like sales, financial, and coding. Teaching people about critical race theory is stupid and pointless. About 6 months ago I was talking to a professor about whether or not college is useful in this day and age and he wanted to talk about how critical race theory should be taught in higher ed.
4) Tax university endowments.

That's what you would do if you actually wanted functional Higher Ed, but literally the opposite is happening in front of our eyes. Testing is being dropped and critical race theory is expanding :mad:


 
In the US it has been pushed for a long time now that anyone who is middle class or above needs to go to college. At some point it was decided that everyone should be able to go to college, but rather than having the government directly subside college and paying people's tuitions they just made it so that there was universal access government-subsided loans. Since everyone now had access to government subsidized loans, there was more demand for people to go to college, and colleges responded by raising their prices. With the influx of half-wits who are now able to attend college, the material has been dumbed down. Kids are told they need to go to college, but they don't actually have any idea what type of job they want when the enter, so they end up taking crap like women's studies and "literature" classes that study Harry Potter because, hey, why not? And if you spent your time taking these sort of classes, you'll be in for a rude awakening when you find out that they didn't actually prepare you to do anything useful in life. Well, I guess you do still have some options. You can become a barista. Or you can go further down the rabbit hole and pursue an advanced degrees (and accrue debt), which will broaden your options by allowing you to do the only thing you are now good for, which is to join academia and teach the same sort of crap that you studied when you were in college.

I think there is definitely some legitimate benefit to a well-rounded education and learning things beyond your specific major, but the benefit is far less than the current cost of education in the US. And much the crap they teach now is, at best, useless and more likely actively harmful. I'm only in my 30s, but it seems it's gotten much worse even since I was in college. Personally, I do have an advanced degree and work on a profession in which such a degee is necessary. But I think, I could easily have cut a few years out of my education and not missed anything worthwhile.
 
I got the idea for this thread from this one.

The main idea is this: I am exactly a College/ University lecturer, 37 y.o., from a city north of Bucharest, Romania, teaching exactly computer science. I don't know how good or bad is the American or the western system but in our faculty, there is no such thing as political discussion, leftism and whatnot. Or, at least I am not aware of.

When I came into teaching, my chief mission is not to make the mistakes my previous teachers made. I try to keep my lectures interactive (so as my students don't get bored) and practical (explaining programming and CS concepts through every day examples). I try to have a chill, relaxed atmosphere (I was never fond of the authoritarian system that prevailed in early 2000s) and to get closer to my students (as an example having small talk with them during breaks or outside school), not judging them not holding grudges, and making sure they understand that I have nothing personal with them and I am correcting their professional mistakes, even if they don't like it at first.. So far so good, they respond very well to my teaching style (doing this since 2012) and they know very well that, to have this relaxed atmosphere, we must also do our job. I got only once a complaint from a student, but it turned out it was a misunderstanding and everything came back to normal.

The same thing I want to apply on my courses side. I don't want to be the professor that teaches for 20 years the same obsolete things, but I am also aware that, to keep up with the times, I'll need to keep learning. On one side it's good for experience, but I don't want to become the jack of all trades, master of none kind of person.

So, what I'd like to know from you is what would you do to improve what happens in colleges. From what I understood in that topic and one of Roosh's articles, college is a waste of time. Very well. What would you do and/or change so as it won't be anymore a waste of time. What do you think I should do, as the person on the other side of the barricade?

PS: please, no "quit your job" type of answers. I love my job very much and I want to do it right.
Take advantage of online resources. None of my professors ever mentioned hacker rank or the 100 other code challenge sites that build problem solving skills. Honestly regret my college education for that fact alone. I wish that just one of my professors had given us homework assignments that forced us to become familiar with great self-teaching tools.

If a professor had included a weekly assignment to that effect or cultivated habitual interaction with one of those sites it would have saved me a lot of annoyance down the road.
 
On staying relevant, just do your best to give assignments worthy of putting at the top of a resume. They don't have to be insanely difficult, just modern and github-worthy.

Another skill that is somehow rare in CS grads is dissecting and parsing other people's code (which is surprising based on the amount of cheating that goes on). They just need more exposure to this skill during their education. Simple things like taking real working code and increasing/reducing O complexity or changing the functionality.

If you get a student that is struggling with CS in general or is on the fence you can do what I do, introduce them to a zachatronics game like Shenzen io. If they enjoy that they can learn to enjoy any CS career.

Thank you for actually caring about your job.
Your students are fortunate!
 

JohnQThomas

Woodpecker
Tax university endowments. Definitely this. I completely forgot to mention that these institutions are sitting on mountains of investment money.
Tax them, but give schools exemptions to those new taxes insofar as they use more of their endowments to give scholarships and/or reduce tuitions. They could afford to admit and finance many more academically-qualified applicants than they do.
 

JohnQThomas

Woodpecker
I got the idea for this thread from this one.

The main idea is this: I am exactly a College/ University lecturer, 37 y.o., from a city north of Bucharest, Romania, teaching exactly computer science. I don't know how good or bad is the American or the western system but in our faculty, there is no such thing as political discussion, leftism and whatnot. Or, at least I am not aware of.

When I came into teaching, my chief mission is not to make the mistakes my previous teachers made. I try to keep my lectures interactive (so as my students don't get bored) and practical (explaining programming and CS concepts through every day examples). I try to have a chill, relaxed atmosphere (I was never fond of the authoritarian system that prevailed in early 2000s) and to get closer to my students (as an example having small talk with them during breaks or outside school), not judging them not holding grudges, and making sure they understand that I have nothing personal with them and I am correcting their professional mistakes, even if they don't like it at first.. So far so good, they respond very well to my teaching style (doing this since 2012) and they know very well that, to have this relaxed atmosphere, we must also do our job. I got only once a complaint from a student, but it turned out it was a misunderstanding and everything came back to normal.

The same thing I want to apply on my courses side. I don't want to be the professor that teaches for 20 years the same obsolete things, but I am also aware that, to keep up with the times, I'll need to keep learning. On one side it's good for experience, but I don't want to become the jack of all trades, master of none kind of person.

So, what I'd like to know from you is what would you do to improve what happens in colleges. From what I understood in that topic and one of Roosh's articles, college is a waste of time. Very well. What would you do and/or change so as it won't be anymore a waste of time. What do you think I should do, as the person on the other side of the barricade?

PS: please, no "quit your job" type of answers. I love my job very much and I want to do it right.
If you love your job and want to do it right, you’re in the right job.
And you’re exactly the kind of person who SHOULD be teaching.
 

Zanardi

Woodpecker
Thank you, @JohnQThomas

First off, a little background. In the US, colleges/universities charge exorbitant amounts of money because they can: students and parents are ignorant and no matter how much money they are charged, they will pay it. But perhaps that is changing now. At least with men it is. Last I checked the ratio of men to women in college was something like 4.4 vs 5.6 out of 10. So for every 10 students, only 44% are male. Men realized what was happening and got out of college, I think. Anyway, so because colleges have a seemingly unlimited demand, they continue to charge a shit ton of money because people keep paying it, and it's backed by the US government in the form of student loans.

In Romania, there is the opposite situation. Because it's a much poorer country, people look very careful at the tuition fees, but not necessarily as the biggest bang for the buck, but the cheapest possible way to get to the Uni. In the Romanian system, a part of the Uni places are paid by the government, and the rest is paid by the students. Where I teach, for a few years almost nobody wants to remain in the seats where they have to pay the tuition fees. The subsidized ones? Sure!

Also, nobody really cares here the male to female ratio and other of this stuff.

Secondly, but why are colleges charging so much money? Quite simply, because they are hiring non-teaching professionals and paying them bloated salaries. It's not uncommon to walk into a typical college and find the assistant to the assistant dean of the cultural studies school. Multiply that across several departments and you have an enormous amount of staff that do not generate revenue for the college. The professors are the ones generating revenue because they are the product being sold to students. But sadly, colleges hire adjunct professors and pay them very meager salaries while the assistant to the assistant dean gets paid probably much more than the professor does and gets benefits the professor does not.

We also have non-teaching professionals: librarians, technicians, cleaning ladies, guards, etc, whose salaries are much lower than the teaching staff's. But no assistant of the assistant's assistant. Each of our five faculties has a dean and two vice-deans. No more.

Which brings me to the heart of the problem and that's product quality. Because adjunct professors make so little, the college probably doesn't care much about the quality of the professor, as long as she isn't a felon and has the illustrious PhD certificate. For tenured professors, they are more interested in their research and teaching is what they do to fulfill and obligation put on them by the college. But for many of them, they are not impassioned teachers, but indentured servants who really want to sell books and publish research, not teach moronic Freshmen, etc.
Yes and no. Sure, they care but right now we are in the middle of a generational exchange, where older teachers retire and younger teachers come to replace them. This means that the old authoritarian system is being replaced by a more democratic one.

Stay in touch with former students who work in industry--see what they learned that helped them, and what they wish they new more about. Not just specific technology, but everything they need to succeed.

Good idea. I have a few of them in my Facebook list. I can ask them one day.

Take advantage of online resources. None of my professors ever mentioned hacker rank or the 100 other code challenge sites that build problem solving skills. Honestly regret my college education for that fact alone. I wish that just one of my professors had given us homework assignments that forced us to become familiar with great self-teaching tools.

If a professor had included a weekly assignment to that effect or cultivated habitual interaction with one of those sites it would have saved me a lot of annoyance down the road.

Good idea. Let's see how can I implement that one.

Another skill that is somehow rare in CS grads is dissecting and parsing other people's code (which is surprising based on the amount of cheating that goes on). They just need more exposure to this skill during their education. Simple things like taking real working code and increasing/reducing O complexity or changing the functionality.

First year students have no clue about the O complexity and they have a lot to learn until then, but dissecting other people's code is also a great idea.

If you love your job and want to do it right, you’re in the right job.
And you’re exactly the kind of person who SHOULD be teaching.

Thank you!
 
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