A Life Without Regret
…is not my life. If anyone who stumbles across this blog (or, gasp, follows it closely) is not aware, I am currently pursuing a degree at the University of Kentucky. Though there were a handful of institutions I would have rather attended, I chose this school for no other reason than its geographical accessibility — it was the closest college to my original place of residence. After my first semester, I knew I had made a terrible choice. But I pressed on, keeping my eyes leveled on my goal: a degree. Liking the program in which I’m enrolled, or the people who attend this university, is not as important as graduating.
This semester, however, has been a horrific experience. I have seen so many unsettling things, and I honestly loathe the fact that I have three more school-terms to survive (four, if you count the summer session… and I don’t, just to keep my blood-pressure within normal range).
TL;DR version: If you’re thinking about going to the University of Kentucky, don’t. Do yourself a favor and mark it off your list immediately. If you’re at all interested in reading the reasoning, though… click through.
First, the professors. Out of five professors, I’ve had serious complaints about three. First, the Religion professor. Most of my complaints about this professor are down to personality quirks, therefore, have no real relevance to the University itself. However, I was greatly disturbed when I learned that he was attending a conference in Denver, where he was to present a study of churches in Lexington, KY. What was disturbing about this was the fact that in his presentation, he called Lexington a “Midwestern City”. I was just dumbfounded by this, as Lexington is neither culturally nor geographically Midwestern. Here is a doctorate-holding professional, attending a conference for other professionals, presenting a study which was completely invalidated by this one incredibly obvious mistake. That a professional could misinform fellow colleagues is bad enough — that this person is allowed to teach young adults is just terrifying.
Second, the Gender professor. This one could have been fair enough, even if too much time was wasted with assuming we were all freshers who had never read or written for college before (which, to my knowledge, none of us were). It would have been okay, until she screwed up the scoring on our first exam. Rather than restructure the grading rubric to make up for the mistake, she decided to throw those points she misplaced onto other exams. Where each exam was supposed to be worth 45 points, they were now split 30, 52, and 53. I scored perfectly on the first, and rather terribly on the second… which wasn’t a problem, until you really did the math. My perfect score was worth less than the bad-score I made on the second exam. In expressing my concern, she insulted my intelligence by saying my math and logic were flawed. When I presented her with the math — which proved that her mistake cost me 1% of my final grade — she insulted my intelligence again by suggesting that the numbers didn’t matter. Clearly, if you’re at all interested in getting into grad school, the numbers [i]do[/i] matter. The fact that I was one point’s distance from falling from an A to a B does absolutely matter. The difference between making dean’s list, and not making dean’s list, does absolutely matter. And though I presented a very clear case with valid evidence, she refused to admit to her mistake.
Next, my own dear major, Social Work. I don’t even know where to begin with the class I had this semester. The instructor was a PhD student, so not yet a professional in that regard. However, this should never reflect on a person’s ability to be an effective teacher — I have had a great many student teachers as instructors, and they have been wonderful (my German instructors are a prime example). I assumed that this instructor had no previous experience, and was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt as I struggled to understand how she could make such a convoluted mess out of relatively simple concepts. That is, until the results of our midterm exams came back. I received rather good marks on that exam (45 out of 50), but the rest of the class did not fare so well. People were pissed. People were crying. People were giving up. People marched right up to the COSW and lodged their complaints — which were at best ignored, or at worst, twisted around to reflect badly on on the students, rather than the instructor. After drafting a long letter of complaints, and gathering signatures, the instructor changed her tune. Class improved. Our grades recovered, thanks to a rather drastic extra-credit scheme. We were feeling much better, and became much more firm with the instructor when we were not clear on how to decipher her horrible syntax. Then, with finals drawing near, she did it again. Though it says on the syllabus that the final exam would be open book, she told us that only two pages of notes would be permitted. Next, she told us it would be open book only, no notes. Then she said the first half would be closed, and the last would be open book, open note. Then she went back and changed it again, saying the entire exam would be open book only, no notes. Just as soon as we thought we had a handle on what was going on, she changed it, and made it clear that we were being unreasonable when we expressed our frustration with being jerked around. It is clearly our problem, not hers.
Thankfully, this instructor has been taken out of core-curriculum teaching. Unfortunately, though, she is still teaching next semester. I am terrified for her future students.
Finally, as I am meeting more people who have graduated from this university, I am more and more disheartened by their total lack of knowledge in their respective fields, their inability to accept any new ideas, and their lack of respect for current students who challenge the status quo. I’m currently engaged in a rather heated argument with an old Marketing major, trying to explain to him how social media marketing works, and how his expectations in a certain marketing ploy are entirely inefficient. It’s just… frustrating to see how badly this University has failed its students. Frustrating to see that this tradition of failure has been part of the university for 30+ years. Every time something like this happens, I am made more ashamed of my choice to place geographical accessibility so high on my priority list.
I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that I had listened to all the people who told me that I needed to go somewhere else. I wish I had made my education the real priority. I wish I had made the bold choice to find a place where I was not in a constant state of culture shock and toxic disappointment. But here I am, three terms left (we’re still not counting summer, for the sake of my sanity), stuck. Stuck wondering and worrying if anyone can take a degree from this place seriously. God knows I wouldn’t. I really, really wouldn’t.