August 2006 Archives
I was reading this article in USA Today about financial aid. Apparently, aid increases aren't keeping pace with tuition increases. This is pretty bad. I think of education, as many people do, as a sort of intellectual infrastructure of our country. Without that strong foundation, we're pretty much screwed. And without financial aid, there are many smart, capable people who don't have much money who will be less able to pay for college. That's bad.
Even more pressing, though, is that students should have a strong foundation before entering college. Too often students don't have basic background skills, like reading and writing. Not every student has to be F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I don't think it is unreasonable to ask students to be able to organize their thoughts in written form and write so that it is comprehensible.
I suspect it's cultural. For some reason, I don't think the skills are valued anymore. Sure, there may be some pressure to get good grades, but too often parents and students see those grades as the ends. That's not what they are meant to be. They should only be indicators of whether the student has learned the skills. Ideally, parents should be able to tell whether their children have actually learned what they need to learn, but I think many stop paying attention after a certain point. After all, it's a lot of work.
I think it's critical work. To teach your child about values, and living in our society, and all the rest is very important. But it's undermined by failing to encourage learning, and the skills that a student learns. Of course, it's easy for me to say: I have no children, and am unlikely to acquire any in the immediate future. Still, I see a child's education as an aspirational goal, and I hope to work in that direction if I am ever in that position.
Yesterday was the first day of classes for the rest of the university; law school started a week early. I was thinking about that on Sunday. We could see the new students moving into the dorms all weekend, probably mostly freshmen. I was thinking about how they're all on their own for the first time, leaving the nest, all that crap.
Then on Sunday, I was thinking about how classes started the next day and the new students were all getting ready, anxious with anticipation. They were probably all studying away, getting ready for their first day of class.
Then I remembered they don't do that in undergrad.
So, how far removed from reality am I that my first thought was that they were doing their reading and homework for the first day? Pretty far, apparently.
Good news, though! One of my favorite podcasts, The Real Happy Hour, finally has a new episode. It is the first since April. I love it! Check it out.
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. The Earth goes around the sun, and at approximately the same point (relative to the sun) every year, we celebrate birthdays. Today was mine. I am now 30 years old.
Some people are surprised by this. Apparently I appear younger, commonly people believe I am around 26 or 27. I suppose that's good, but I really don't mind. I actually don't pay that much attention to how old I am. Once I hit around 24 or so, it just seemed so much less relevant. Of course, even without a big age-consciousness, 30 is still one of those milestones, and I suppose worth paying attention to.
Still, I don't feel like it. Part of this is that I am in graduate school, and this means I'm around younger people a lot. On top of that, I'm about to embark on a profession I really love and am excited about. I have met and befriended some of the best people on the planet, and I'm privileged to have them in my life. I also am in better physical shape than I ever have in my life, or at worst, since high school. It helps a lot to be non-stressed about aging when you lost 30 pounds two years ago and have pretty much kept it off. Plus I'm planning on a half-marathon in September, which I never thought I could do. Sure I'm single, never married, and have had few long-term prospects, but that doesn't bother me that much, usually. (Though the longer it goes on, the more others get uncomfortable, I think. MackenzieMom, for example, would probably like to see me safely in a relationship--though not at the expense of my grades and career.) I have my moments of insecurity, as we all do, but I'm overall pretty satisfied with my life.
So that's my little retrospective. Tomorrow, the usual schedule resumes: I get up early (about 4:30), run 6-8 miles, go to the law school at 7, study/class/edit, then go home (or, just for tomorrow, go to a law school picnic). It's satisfying, engaging work, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Well, maybe hanging out with some of those great people some more. But that's it.
I briefly alluded yesterday to going back to school. For me, and for the rest of the University of Wyoming law students, this is the last weekend. Depending on whether we actually do our reading for the first day, even that may be cut short.
It has been a pretty good summer. I really loved my job (and still have some work to do there). I also got to take a little road trip for a job interview. I didn't get the job, but it was nice to travel a bit. My case note was published (it's at 6 Wyo. L. Rev. 657, if you're interested). I don't have any copies myself yet, though. I didn't get to do as much outdoor recreation as I would have liked, but I was able to go rock climbing and go to the mountains a bit.
Now the work. I have a bunch of jobs at the school. I'm on the Ed. Board of the law review, I'm a teaching assistant, and I maintain the computer lab. (That's right, my school is small enough that we only have one computer lab.) The last job also means I'm the student technology representative of the law school, and to the main campus tech committee, in addition to being my class's representative for the student fee technology committee. That's a lot of meetings! On top of all this, I still have some work to do left over from my summer job. I'll be arguing before the Wyoming Supreme Court in a few weeks, and I have one last brief to write.
Let's just say I'll be taking advantage of this last weekend. I have enough to do that I'll probably be dividing it down the middle betweed work and play, which is a lot more play than I'll soon enjoy.
Today is the Jupiter Extravaganza: All Jupiter, All the Time. I'm testing out a new blogging client, Windows Live! Writer (beta). I'll have a full report soon.
I love this one, I caught him sort of reaching toward the camera:
Have a great weekend! School begins for me next week, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. For the rest of you who must begin at the same time, have fun.
I know, I've been a very poor blogger lately. I managed to get a bit preoccupied with the madness that surrounds finishing my internship--or at least my time in the office--and beginning school. In addition to being on the Law Review ed. board and serving as a writing TA, I have a brief to write and I'm arguing a case before the Wyoming Supreme Court in the middle of September. This week, I've been getting ready for classes to begin and going to the State Bar Conference, which happens to be on my campus this year, and students get to attend for free. Oh, and I took the MPRE a couple weeks ago.
That last bit was an interesting experience. Like many August test-takers, I don't think I studied as much as I could have. I spent basically all my free time (not much) for four days before the exam studying. From speaking to others, I think that was at or above the studying of most.
Overall, I have no idea how I did. The exam was a weird combination of utter-failure-to-comprehend and this-question-is-unbevievably-obvious. There are two other test days before I graduate, and if I end up going to Washington, I don't need the exam at all.
It occurs to me that some people may think it is odd to be discussing my possibly-inadequate MPRE score on a blog. I suppose it just doesn't matter to me if I don't initially do well. I didn't study much, so it doesn't threaten my sense of self-worth when it comes to passing and becoming a bar member. I also had a lot going on in my job and life all summer, so the exam was relatively low on the list.
Rising to the top of that list is employment searching. Unlike many who went to firms this summer and will work there on graduation, I don't want to work at a firm. I would love to be at the office I just came from, except that I don't want to stay in Wyoming (barring a really good reason to stay here), and in any case, they don't have a regular hiring cycle.
So, it begins. I suspect it will occupy a great deal of my time for a while. I plan on blogging regularly again. I want to share a little about my summer job experience. My friend Tony asked me what kind of lawyer I will be, and I'd like to take the time to post a good, solid answer. It's not an easy question.
Anyway, there may be a bit more posting this week, but next week it should get a bit more steady once I get into my routine. Right now, I have to go figure out when I should have office hours.
Well, I think things have calmed down a little. I took the MPRE on Friday, as did many of us about-to-be-3Ls around the country. I didn't study all that much, not as much as I probably should. It didn't seem as if many people studied much, though, so I hope when they do the calculations I don't score too far less than the crowd.
It will take about five weeks to get scores. This seems pretty low. The test is on a bubble sheet, then they compute scores based on some sort of arcane formula. I don't know how many tests they have to score, but it doesn't seem like it should take more than, say, two weeks to get everything to us. I wonder when the people in charge of this (and the LSAT, for that matter) will get with the times and start giving this test on computers. I took the GRE on a computer, and it was great. I got my score right away, no waiting.
In other news, my case note is published. It showed up on Westlaw recently, and one presumes it is or soon will be on Lexis, as well. I sort of have mixed feelings. I'm learning so much at writing, both as part of law school and my summer job, that I think it could be better. Actually, I found some tweaks within a couple weeks of turning in the publication draft I wish I had made. Ah, well. I suppose it is a snapshot of what I could accomplish at that particular point in time.
Speaking of my summer job, this is my last week in the office. I'll still have some hours to do, but this will be the last I will spend in my office. It's sort of mixed: I love the work, but I hate the hour-each-way commute. This summer has gone by extremely fast. I'll have to do a little retrospective post pretty soon.
Can't blog. MPRE tomorrow. Plus work today, and every day. Back soon.