Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What I Learned: Part 4

This blog post is the fourth in a series where I go through my college transcripts, class-by-class, to determine what exactly it was that I spent six years learning. Come with me on this magical journey that might lead me to the promised land of employment and the American dream! (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)

Fall 2004, Spring 2005 & Summer 2005
This is sort of a bonus post because I'm covering three semesters of classes instead of the usual one. In reality, though, there's not much bonus to it. I didn't attend college in the fall 2004 semester because I was sidetracked by the Army making me be elsewhere after I finished my spring semester. I guess what I learned from that experience is never trust what anyone in the Army tells you about being able to schedule things around college because it is all a lie. Fact: Recruiters will tell you anything, and they won't ever have to suffer any consequences for the stretching of truths that they do. Tip: If you ever join the military, don't be afraid to ask for things in writing, and don't sign contracts until they've covered every little possible detail you can think up. I'm serious, anyone who has been in the military will tell you that they will screw you over in at least one way during your enlistment.

Luckily, I was able to return to school for the spring 2005 semester, and I even started doing some summer school stuff. I still graduated in four years with many more credits than I needed, so I suppose things always work out for the best if you're willing to keep working hard.

ENG 102 — English Composition II
Because I had English 101 and a literature credit on my transcript from AP classes in high school, the only English course I was required to take in my four years of college was this one (though I elected to take more later). My professor, Chris, was a young guy fresh out of grad school who looked remarkably like a guy I would meet later in grad school named Alex. This course was super easy for a journalism major such as myself. We wrote one short story. I wrote a time-traveling fictional adventure about Native Americans and modern-day U.S. soldiers in Iraq. You're welcome to take a look sometime. We also watched some films and wrote film reviews as our other major assignments, which was unique and fun. In one review, I gave "Silence of the Lambs" four animals that never appear in the movie out of five and placed clip-art lambs at the top of the page instead of stars.

GEO 100 — Introduction to Cultural Geography
Oh, I remember all too well this class I took to fulfill one of the multicultural requirements of the dreaded Marshall Plan (a.k.a. Marshall's way of requiring more multicultural, international, integrated science and writing-intensive courses of all majors in order to keep them in college and paying tuition longer). I had geography courses in elementary and middle school when I was attending a private school, so I still remembered everything, which would've made this class a breeze. Except, the exams were photocopied pages out of some book, and the professor had hand-drawn arrows pointing toward oceans, rivers, mountain ranges, capitals, etc. So, the result was a messy photocopy with a wiggly arrow pointing at what could either be the Mississippi River or any city near it. Requests for clarification of what exactly these arrows (often right beside other arrows and accompanied with obscure letter/number combinations to match with the answer sheet) were point at were denied, leading many expert cartographers like myself to miss easy questions. Hopefully they've found someone reasonable to teach this course by now.

JMC 201 — News Writing I
This is another unforgettable class, and the only thing less than an A I received during my time in the J-school at Marshall. Yeah, this guy gave me a B. The reason? Well, I'm persuaded that it's because I don't have female anatomy. This professor was straight-up creepy as it was. He looked and sounded like Count Olaf in "Lemony Snicket's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'." He often asked female students to come to his office to pick up their graded assignments because he "forgot them" them in his office. The reason I got a B in the class? Well, it probably has something to do with the F I received on the first story of the class. Here I was, a brand-new journalist in training in my first-ever official news-writing class, and he tells us to do a news story with a photo on anything we want. Well, it just so happened that we had a blizzard that weekend, so I did a story about the snow and took photos at the nearby park. Now, granted, my story was not extremely hard news, but that much snow I felt was newsworthy. I didn't just write about pretty snow, either, I had quotes from the Department of Highways on what they were doing, quotes from the state police and also from weather experts. So Mr. Creeptastic thought my story wasn't newsworthy enough and gave me an F. I really wanted to look him up and shove in his face the snow story I had published years later in a daily newspaper bigger than he has probably ever read, but he's not worth taking the time to find. OK, Google actually doesn't take any time — he's at some school no one has ever heard of in Pennsylvania now, guess being mean worked out for him.

MS 202 & 202 L — Leadership and Teamwork, Military Science Leadership Lab
More of the same over in cadet land with the Army ROTC. I still wasn't impressed with ROTC, but I still had plans to commission at this point, and I was a little more motivated to do so having just returned from military duty the previous semester.

MS 212 — Ranger Operations and Techniques
This was a fun class. Of course, this class started at 6 a.m. or earlier, which meant no all-nighters or parties the nights before. This one usually involved putting on some combat uniforms, loading up some rucksacks and going for a run across state lines or a road march up some brutal West Virginia hills surrounding the city. We also did urban operations, paintball, bunker assault training and various other tactical exercise lanes all in preparation for the annual Ranger Challenge event.

PSC 202 — American State Government & Politics
Do you ever look back at events in life and wonder why the heck you can't remember them even taking place, even though you know for sure they did? This class is an example of that in my own life. I know I had this class with my friend Miranda, and I know it was on one of the top floors of Smith Hall. I remember the professor was a blonde, an adjunct and that she bought us pizza on the final day of class. As for course material, I honestly have no idea what we did. I think it was mostly a review with just some more-advanced stuff from the earlier political science class I had taken as a freshman. Weird.

HST 231E — American History Since 1877
I took this course online in the summer of 2005, and it was an enjoyable experience to just be able to read the book and learn on my own. The instructor utilized online quizzes and exams, but he also had us post on the discussion board for the class online, which was really fun. We had some good discussions about historical events, and we actually covered all of the significant events in history, not just one (see previous blog post link above). I guess my only question is why the cutoff date had to be 1877 for the two history courses? Perhaps because the first Westminster Dog Show was that year?

And now we're a little farther down the road in this journey of discovery, reminiscing and (hopefully) enlightenment. Sometimes college is fun, sometimes you get stuck with professors who don't realize where their head is stuck, sometimes classes aren't made the least bit memorable and seem to be there only to fulfill a requirement, sometimes you do things you think you'll need later but won't (but you never mind those as much as doing the things you don't think you'll need to know but actually will), and we just have to take the good with the bad, sort it all out, and see where we end up next semester.


Joshua said...

Man, that geography class was probably the worst class I've ever had. Some of those places weren't even in the actual atlas that he required us to have for the class. Completely ridiculous!

JD said...

Ah, yes, I should have mentioned that my friend (also named Josh) was in this class with me. As you can see, he attests to the ridiculousness of the course in the comment above. I forgot about the atlas that was required for the class. If I remember correctly, there was coloring of the pages to turn in or something? IN COLLEGE! Sheesh!

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