Saturday, May 5, 2012

No longer a student.

I should now have plenty of time to continue posting completely inane and pointless blog posts which basically no one reads. I formerly was a student, but due to my complete and innate lack of ability with everything related to Mathematics I am now a student no longer. Apparently, regardless of it's value to your field, you simply cannot be considered a 'Well rounded' student unless you have passed a college level algebra class.

The trick to this is of course, schools in the US, apparently universally, issue "Placement tests" to see if you are "Capable" of doing college level mathematics. These tests basically will put anyone who isn't extremely talented in math into a either one or a series of remedial classes. This is what happened to me. It's the reason I put off going to college for so long in the first place.

I passed both remedial math classes with a 'C' but the school system isn't satisfied with that. No. they want you to also pass an "Exit exam" to prove that you have actually learned the material.

I haven't. See, it's entirely possible to pass the class and fail every single test, due to the grading rubrics used. Homework = X%, Quizzes = X%, Tests = X%, Final = X%. If you do fantastically well on your homework, but don't manage more than C-'s for your tests, quizzes and final you can still pass the class.. even if that means you really only know about 68% of the material from the class. The Exit Exam is designed to catch people like me, who the school basically considers to be cheating scum, and toss us right back into the 'Learning support' classes. You see, in the state of Georgia, if you don't pass the remedial class(s) in 3 attempts you get kicked out of school for a year. An entire year! Further, you aren't allowed to take more than 20 hours of "College level" classes while you are still in one of these vaunted remedial classes.

In my opinion, this is basically all a big scam designed to bilk the federal financial aid system. What could be better? have a virtual open door to anyone, of any educational background, and then turf them out when they fail to live up to outrageous standards relating to material that the bulk of the earths population has no use for. You would think they would treat reading and writing with great importance, since you can't even function in a MATH class without being able to read and write. But no. They really don't care if you can read or write at a college level so long as you can find factor a polynomial. Even if this has no bearing on your Major, the school systems in the US don't care.

And it really is across the entire US, regardless of state or institution. They have no choice mainly, if they want to remain an accredited institution, but to force their students to take these classes.

But now that I've failed the 'Exit exam', I am left with two choices, either voluntarily withdraw from school, or retake the class (out of my own pocket) and risk getting kicked out by the school system when I fail the test again. It's exceedingly frustrating as I am a 4.0gpa student who is on the Dean's list, yet I am not being allowed to take any more college level classes due to being deficient in something which is completely irrelevant to my field. This counts for nothing of course, why would it? when the entire school system is fixated on their ever increasing math and science goals. It's all anyone in the admissions office ever talks about. They are, basically, trying to turn our fine educational system into a replica of east Asia's. Learn math and science by rote memorization and to hell with the humanities. Who needs culture, right? Glory to the state!

It's no wonder the US educational system is in such Shit condition. It's no wonder our math and science scores are so low. They try to force people who have no apptitude for them to do them which then drags down the over all averages.The Asian countries figured out the trick on how to game the averages. Simply encourage the kids with no aptitude at math to quit school, thus causing a steady uptick in the Math Scores with ever withdrawal. That seems to be the prevailing attitude here now also, who cares if you can write a 20 page research paper, so long as you can crunch numbers. Fuck the Morals, does it make any money?

Needless to say, at this point I'm a bit upset about the whole thing. I can't help but feel I've now wasted a year of my life pursuing something which is, due to bureaucratic jerkoffery, effectively barred to me, forever. I can't even go through a For-Profit online school to take my required math class since most schools won't accept credit from them.

If you haven't guessed, I'm seriously pissed off about this.


Brian Murphy said...

I'm sorry to hear this, that totally sucks. I was never any good at math either and I've been fairly successful in my profession and my life without this ability.

You would think that by the time one hits college it would be all about your major, not passing exams in subjects which have no bearing or relevance to your future career.

Trey said...

Hey, I read your blog.

Sorry to hear about your difficulties. When I was in college, though, (and perhaps it changed) math certainly wasn't the only required subject. In fact, passing an exam showing essay reading and writing ability was required of all students in the state of Georgia.

Keith said...

I hate to hear this. Having spent my adult life in academia, I've become more disillusioned with our educational system. It's more about money and sports (which brings in money) than a quality education.

The Wasp said...

Sorry to hear this, it truly sucks.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Oh I know a few people read it, and you guys are great. I just was feeling whiny I suppose.

You would think it should be about your Major, Brian, but the school wants to make money more so tacks on all kinds of stuff that you have to take in order to graduate.

Trey, Part of the issue is that I waited 10 years to go back to school, so they won't accept my SAT scores and consider them sufficient to move on any longer. The other part is that I forgot a bunch of stuff that I barely knew in the first place because, despite what the school would have you believe, knowing algebra isn't really that important to most people's daily lives. So what the school does is gives you a placement test to see what ares you are deficient in, and then places you into remedial classes. The main issue with this is, while there are reading and writing compasses, they are easy for anyone who actually knew how to use the language in the first place, since you use it all the time, you don't really lose your abilities. They are also conveniently only 1 class per, but math they expect you to take 2 classes.

Michal said...

Well, this doesn't really inspire confidence in the U.S. education system. I know people up here in Canada who never took Math 12 in high school and were able to get Honours BAs in the humanities. And while I had to take a certain number of courses in first year of uni outside of my chosen major/minor there was a fairly wide selection; I foolishly took physics for my sciences credit, which does involve some fairly heavy math (I still held up pretty well, thankfully, because I *did* take Math 12, Physics 12 and Calculus in high school), but most of the others undergrads in the Arts opted for psychology or environmental sciences, which didn't require much math at all.

I'd hazard to say you might even want to look abroad, if this isn't something you can get around by looking for a different school within the States.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Michal, I've already considered this. I'm just not sure if I want the degree bad enough to make myself a debtor for the rest of my life by paying for it all on student loans.

As a US citizen I would still be eligible for the low cost Stafford loans, and also for the Pell Grant, even if I was attending school in another country. But That only amounts to about 9000$ a year. Which isn't even sufficient for most schools in the US.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Another thing is, at least in my school, Pscyhology is an "Elective" and isn't a "Science".. you have the choices of Environmental Science, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Geology.

Gabriele C. said...

That system is seriously fucked up. Heck, I gave up math in grade 11 (as far as that compares to the AngloSaxon system) and could still have studied everything with my score, including Maths and Physics. :)

You're obliged to obtain special skills on your own so you pass the examns during your studies, it's not so much about what you bring in from school - which isn't worth much anyway. I had to take courses in Ancient Greek for example; few schools still offer Greek. In Theology you need to pass a test in Ancient Greek (and Hebrew) but in Archaeology and Ancient History, it's more like a benefit. You have to have reading competence in Greek, Latin, French and Italian, period. No need for tests; if you write essays and miss important sources because your lack of languages, you'll get bad scores. It's your problem how you get those skils (though the university does offer courses for free). And that's how adult educations should work, imho.

Lagomorph Rex said...

A perfect example of that, Gabriele: I went into my first semester of German without being able to speak German, but I could read a bit of it.. I had something of a leg up on the other people in the class in that regard. The problem being of course, the teacher assigned NO readings the entire semester, everything we discussed in the class was on Speaking, as if you were an exchange student. So I can now find a furnished apartment centrally located near a train station.. but I still can't actually speak the language.. Ugh.

The teacher was nice, but it's no most Americans don't speak a second language if the classes I've had throughout school are any indication of how they are universally taught here.

Unfortunately they teach Math in rather the same way. They don't do anywhere near enough examples in class, and certainly don't give enough homework, (which they would then have to .. gasp.. actually grade) Though I've been thinking that my problem with this math class is that, for all intents and purposes it covers everything I would have learned in 11th and 12th grades, but does so in about 15 weeks. It's a TON of material to cover, and they just don't require anything approaching enough work to really get a grip on it. As I myself illustrated, It's entirely possible to pass the class even if you don't understand all of the material.

On the other hand, passing my History final would have been totally impossible if you didn't do the required readings.