Practice Makes Perfect

Rob Urstein’s quote, “intelligence, rather than being a fixed trait, is something that grows over time and can be developed with effort” from Ian Chipman’s article “Realistic Expectations” has been the theme for me as I worked through this course. Without sounding too full of myself, I usually pick up on things quickly. However, this class was totally different because the writing process takes time and I wasn’t ready for it. I went into the class with very little training and still expected to go from zero to one hundred without much work. In turn, I got frustrated and started making excuses when I wasn’t making the progress that I had hoped for. Excuses such as “it’s hard to balance everything”, “I am not interested in this class”, “I have better things to focus on”, “I will never need this ever in life”. When I got my final grade back for the “Bloodchild” essay I was not pleased. I thought I had done a good job, granted the grade was not horrible but I thought I has earned a better grade. The comments that were left were problems that I thought that I had fixed. I tried to rewrite the essay to the best of my ability and I really tried to make improvements, but nothing was working. On top of that, the in-class activity that we were doing was making me even more frustrated. I was ready to give up. I was putting the “effort” in that Urstein talked about so why wasn’t I getting better?

I have played sports my whole life and practice has always made perfect. I always enjoyed improving the way that I played. The feeling of achievement that I had after I mastered something that my coaches had told me that I needed to work on was amazing. Although I would still get frustrated that I was not getting the hang of it right away, I still worked hard at it. Why was it so different when it came to school? I understand that school is very different from sports, but the concept of growth is still the same. So, I compared my struggle the writing process to my development in sports.

My softball coach once said to our team, “once a coach stops yelling at you, they have given up on you”. She meant this as if coaches are hard on you, they see potential and believe that you are capable of so much more. My coach (Dr. McCoy) recommended things that I could do differently to improve my writing. These recommendations were not meant to hurt me, but they were left to help me. Dr. McCoy saw potential in me which is why she left those comments. Although she did not yell at me, Dr. McCoy believes in me and therefore was hard on my writing and left constructive criticism with the hope that I will improve.

Through all my frustration that I have been feeling, Urstein’s concept can also be directly related to real life situations—not just sports. I have three more years of school, so I know for a fact that I will encounter other classes like this one that frustrate me and that I won’t want to take. In the real world too even after college, I will have tasks at work that frustrate me that I’ll have to work harder than others to master them. When I start a family, being a mom is hard and it takes a while to get the hang of. But that’s something that I can’t just get frustrated with and quit. My comparison of Urstein’s quote to sports and life helped me to understand that it takes multiple tries to get the hang of something. It requires both time AND effort.

Procrastination

Looking through the abundance of blog posts swarming the site right now I can tell we are all struggling with the dreaded ‘P’ word. Something that haunts not just college students but just about everybody. The concept of procrastination intrigued me as I scrolled through all of the posts created today, the last possible day. We had an entire semester to post just ten times yet most of us waited until now, including myself. Why? With this, I decided to do some research on procrastination. 

Researching the topic I found an article titled “Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination” by Eric Jaffe. Jaffe explains that procrastination “goes back to ancient civilizations”. I learned that there are actually different types of procrastinators. Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University says “while everybody may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator.” There 20% of people are classified as chronic procrastinators. He relates the matter to telling a person considered a chronic procrastinator “to just do their work is like telling a depressed person to just cheer up.” 

There is actually a neuropsychological factor to procrastination. Laura Rabin of Brooklyn College says that there might actually be a connection between the frontal system of the brain and procrastinating work. The frontal parts of the brain are “involved in a number of processes that overlap with self-regulation. These behaviors — problem-solving, planning, self-control, and the like — fall under the domain of executive functioning.” To test this 212 students were collected and assessed on procrastination and then on the above skills. It in fact correlated, students who tend to procrastinate also had problems with the behaviors caused by the frontal brain. Though there could be other factors link, they believe that this could be a cause of procrastination.

Procrastination is very common on the college campus, but by reading this article I can definitely look at the topic with fresh eyes. It is wired in us to procrastinate. The article also gives suggestions to people prone to procrastinate such as chopping up work in to pieces in order to efficiently get it done over time. This was also a technique that we discussed in class. Furthering my knowledge on this subject will definitely benefit me in my future work ethic. 

The Chipman/Urstein Article

A significant portion of our class recently has been  the discussion of the Chipman/Urstein article and the revision of the academic probation letter. While revising the letter I have noticed a change from group to group of the overall psychology of the letter. Because everyone has their own way to phase things, and this letter is largely concerned with word choice, it can be hard to revise. That said, I believe that sometimes we get too caught up in the psychology of word choice; sometimes is simply doesn’t matter, or it doesn’t carry as much weight as we expect it to. After having spent significant time with multiple versions of the letter I believe that the changes we made were in our own benefit rather than anyone else. I suspect that if everyone individually were given slightly different iterations of the letter their revisions would all turn out slightly different. If we redistributed those revised letters throughout the class and had to re revise those, I suspect that by and large the newly revised letters would be very similar in word choice and overall psychology to everyone’s original revision. I also suspect that this exercise is done every year and that every group comes up with their own unique letter. Soon we have hundreds of letters that all attempt to share the same message with slightly different word choice. Which letters are right? Which are wrong and need further revising? It’s hard to tell, and everyone is likely biased in their own way. In that way, as Urstein makes an argument for changing the psychology of the letter, I believe that everyone will interpret it slightly different, regardless of how its phrased. In that way, the revision process is never actually finished. It just stops moving.

The Collaborative Writing Process

Much of in class discussion over the past several weeks has been the Chipman/Urstein article and the academic probation letter. Until we began revising our own versions of the letter I did not realize how much thought goes into important official statements like that of the probation letter. As we have been working on the collaborative writing with different groups it has occurred to me the importance of this diligence. Something I have noticed from group to group is that everyone has their own writing style and method of revision. This is not inherently surprising, as everyone thinks differently, but with something as detailed as this letter, those differences have become very apparent to me.  As the groups have slowly changed in composition from week to week I have noticed small, but notable shifts in the psychology of the group and the written pieces. Withholding names, in some instances I have noticed certain people -including myself- stepping back, and stepping up depending on who their working with, and how big the group is. I myself am rather comfortable in small groups and contribute significantly to them in general. When groups become larger, and eventually class sized I tend to hold back, allowing those who like to speak do so. In many ways this can be a problem, as it can lead to disassociation or disinterest, however the desire to contribute is always there. 

 

Life Lessons Can Arise From Tragedy

I grew up in a loving household that was built on the foundation of respect and care towards one another. My family rarely argued and we enjoyed being in each other’s presence. I always felt lucky to live in a house where I felt so loved.
 
Growing up, my father was always by my side. He was energetic and filled my childhood with adventure. He did not have a particularly good upbringing, but he wanted to ensure that I did by being the best father possible.
 
I enjoyed growing up in an average household, until things suddenly changed. Doctors diagnosed my father with a form of cancer that was determined to be terminal. Being only eight years old, I found it hard to comprehend the seriousness of cancer. I thought things would continue to be normal and my dad could take medicine to get better. Unfortunately, I quickly learned ‌that this was not how my father’s illness worked. My family’s focus quickly switched to trying to get my dad better; whether that was through chemo therapy, radiation, or bone marrow transplants.
 

Continue reading “Life Lessons Can Arise From Tragedy”

Higher Education

For many high school students the process of choosing a direction to take their lives after high school can be a difficult challenge. Military? Workforce? Trade school? College? In today’s society, students are told at a young age that college is the only way to make a living in the world. In many ways that’s true, just having a high school diploma doesn’t cut it any more. However, I believe that the current education system doesn’t do enough for students to help them realize what they want to do with their lives. It seems that in many ways the current system pushes students to fall into two groups. The first, being those who know what they want to become from an early(er) age, and the second who don’t really know. I would consider myself in the later group. During my senior year of high school I didn’t really know what I wanted to go to college for. I knew I wanted to go into a science field but I didn’t really know which one; I find all major branches to be appealing. I could just have easily chosen physics or biology instead of geology. I imagine for other students this is the same way, they have several things they enjoy, but none they are convincingly passionate about. In that way, the education system doesn’t do enough to help students discover themselves as most high school classes have few options. It can be argued that college is a place meant for students to discover themselves, and I would agree with that. However, if college is the place where young adults are meant to discover themselves, perhaps less pressure should be put on them to have a strong academic drive. Surely, it’s impossible to treat college as just a way to self grow, academics are important too. Surely going to college has immense benefits, but what do students as individuals lose throughout that process?

Word Count

For a large part of this semester, Dr. McCoy has been teaching us to focus on creating a concise piece rather than shooting for length. This was a highly discussed topic toward the beginning of the year. How were we supposed to write an entire essay based on a single question, no outline, and no word count? In reality, there really is no significance to having a set word count for an essay or a blog post. Continue reading “Word Count”

Study Abroad

For many students, he prospect of going to college may be that of a financial nightmare. Unfortunately, many people are unable to afford a quality college education, and most who can are faced with crippling debt. Of those who can go to college, fewer still are able to study abroad, weather it be financially related or not. Recently, a similarly related opportunity has been given to me, and I intend to take it. Every other year the geology department goes on a field trip of juniors and seniors to see geology not seen here in New York.  Having lived here my entire life, and not traveling a significant amount, I have not seen seen firsthand geology that much different than anything in this area. Next year, I will be a junior and there will be a field trip to Death Valley and the Mojave desert. I will be lucky enough to go on this trip and view some impressive geology only found in that area of the globe. While I’m not entirely sure on all of the details yet, I believe that a portion of the trip will involve research necessary for my degree. In that way, I aim to stimulate my learning and grow as a student even more than I normally would. Hopefully, this trip will provide me with that opportunity.

“The Real World”

My mom visited me at school this weekend. Unsurprisingly she was eager to spend time with me being we haven’t seen each other in a long time. She nagged me to entertain her, something difficult in Geneseo. I took her to the library so I could do my work. I explained to her that this is the busiest time of the year, with finals quickly approaching I am swarmed with projects, tests and essays. As I continued to complain about my busy schedule, she replied “please, I’d give anything to go back to college, just wait until you get to the real world.” Any adult would say the same thing when hearing a college student complain, but I believe that the idea of college gets distorted the further away from graduation you get.
 
Adults see college as the best years of their lives, which is agreeable I am dreading the summer and counting down the days till I will be back. But there are also times when I am here wishing I was doing anything but work for hours on end. Students are commonly having anxiety attacks and breakdowns due to the insane amount of work we are expected to complete without a problem. However, when you ask an adult to tell you about college they wouldn’t tell you about the all nighters they pulled struggling to get that essay done in time, they would reminisce on one of their favorite nights out and they amazing friends they made. As you continue on in life the important memories stick with you and what you forget what you want to forget, which explains why my mom was is so eager to relive her college days. I can assure you that if my mom was put in my position, granting her wish of coming back to college, she would be just as stressed as I am.
 
A college student has a lot of pressure on them, yet we get the short end of the stick. People often assume that all students do in college is party and enjoy their new found independence.  Meanwhile I am taking 16 credits this semester struggling to keep up with all the assignments I have hanging over my head. I want to get a full college experience and enjoy my time here before the “real world” I hear so much about while also keeping a balance of getting my work done.
 
This can be related to class because it is part of the academic partnership we as students have with the university. We attend SUNY Geneseo for an education and to receive the rewards the school has to offer as stated in the Mission Statement. But people often get caught up in the risks such as partying and enjoying a new found independence. This is where students develop the skills to balance their social and studious life in order to obtain all the rewards the college is offering. College can be an amazing experience both academically and socially if you are able to achieve both, which is why parents are so willing to do it all again. Although it can be stressful with heavy workloads it is clear that the memories you make will stick with you forever.