Category Archives: College Life

Are You Overwhelmed Yet?

I also could have asked if you are whelmed (look it up, I did).

Students at B-schools really suffer at this time of year.  After Thanksgiving break, one or two weeks of class are followed by a week of final exams.  Profs are stepping on the gas by cramming four weeks of lectures into too few remaining classes.  Students are busy with projects, papers, tests, readings and studying for finals.

At this time of year students are too busy and exhausted for insightful reflective thinking, which is what they need most as college courses climax.

(C) Jorge Cham -

(C) Jorge Cham –

I’ve been working with very full To Do lists for the past two weeks, often surpassing >150 tasks to complete.  Today the list is at a comfortable 42 items.  Not that I’m going to work on anything.  I’m on Thanksgiving break.

by David Albrecht

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14 Things to Know Before Starting College

college-student-lifeIn this sharing world of digital era technologies (which I love) it is easier than ever to read truly insightful articles and essays.  I was alerted to one such article in today’s barrage of social media alerts.

Vivian Giang of Business Insider has written today’s gem in “14 Things High Schoolers Should Know Before They Go To College.”  I didn’t know these things when I attended a local university 45 years ago.  I wish I had.  These 14 nuggets ring true based on my experience as a professor.  Each one of these is important.  Please read the article, but here is my summary.

  1. You don’t have to start college right away.  It is OK to wait a year or two.
  2. Your professors aren’t your parents. They are there to teach you, not to lecture you on life lessons.
  3. Being cool in high school doesn’t mean you will be cool in college, and vice versa.
  4. Go to networking events. Learning how to meet, interact with and establish relationships with new people is one of life’s most important skills.
  5. Invest in your professors. They can be much more than talking heads. Some are worth establishing a relationship with.
  6. Get an internship. It gives business people a chance to meet and discover who are you.
  7. Get a job.
  8. Learn how to write.
  9. Research and learn how college loans will affect your life after college.
  10. Take your scholarship seriously. Losing it will negatively affect your life.
  11. Get up when your alarm goes off.  In other words, get up in the morning.
  12. Always go to class.
  13. Try new things.
  14. Make new friends and be social.

by David Albrecht


Filed under College Life, Student issues

Sharing Coke

One of the things that is supposed to be learned by the time a youngster graduates from kindergarden:  sharing.

It’s refreshing (no pun intended, but I’ll still take a bow) to see college students sharing, even if it’s a drink of Coca-Cola.

Apparently, this was accomplished during finals week.

If my managerial accounting students weren’t going to study for the final exam (most didn’t), they should have found a constructive use of their time.

by David Albrecht

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Holiday Break is Over!


This year I am living a four week holiday break–the last two weeks in December and the first two weeks in January.  There are no classes and only a few meetings.

The first two weeks (minus the half week when I had to turn in course grades) have been great.  I’m home with the wife, getting reacquainted after a semester apart.  My two sons (29 & 24) also came home for Christmas.  I’ve been refreshing friendships at church and at the local bridge club.  Moreover, I’ve been staying up until 3 a.m., sleeping late, and taking a daily nap.  Oh yes, the video rental store is where everybody knows my name.  Cheers.

Today, January 2, is the day when we all head back to work.  My in-box so far has three times the e-mail from any day between Christmas and New Year’s.
It’s back to the business of too much to do and too little time in which to do it.

I have hours of news to read, a friend’s research paper to edit, blog posts to write, and course syllabi to write.  And that’s just for today.

buried-in-workby David Albrecht

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Crunch Time, AKA Cancel Your Life

I’m republishing this December 4, 2010 post from the Pondering the Classroom archives.  It is still relevant.

Fall semester is winding down in the USA. We are past the stages of “Reaching our stride,” mid-terms, “Finally getting the hang of it,” and “Running out of time.” We are not yet at the stages of “The end is near,” or “It’s all over but the shouting.” Crunch time starts with a little less than two weeks of class remaining before final exams.

Crunch time is a stressful, pressure packed time for college students and professors alike. IMO there is too much stress, too much pressure. Neither students nor faculty are particularly fragile, but it is called crunch time for a reason.

After four years of undergraduate crunch times, students will be transfigured for life. Last week in a local coffee shop, a middle-aged woman admitted that she still had nightmares about final exams. Her most recent: being 30 minutes late and still unable to locate the room of the exam. Yikes! She never missed a test in her life, but still has fear. I occasionally have that same dream.

Crunch time is no fun for students. Homework still needs to be completed, lessons learned, pre-final tests crammed for and taken, major term papers and projects written and turned in. There is too much to do, too little time to do it in, and no one wants to fail.

Other profs provide the most sarcastic advice: “Start earlier next time.”

I try to be helpful, “Cancel your life.” You need to be focused and study every available minute of the day. A lot of things can slide. Here are three.

You no longer have time for laundry. As long as classes are still in session, apply the smell test to clothes. Smell test? If unlaundered clothes don’t smell of body odor, they are ok to wear. Near the end of final exam week, though, clothes are allowed to reek. Hint 1: hanging up dirty clothes to let them air out will get another day of wear. Hint 2: use copious amounts of spray and wash when the day finally arrives.

You no longer have time to wash dirty dishes, pots and pans. Fast food is now part of the food pyramid. Because we live in an age of vermin, you never want to let garbage pile up, as in this picture:

Hint 1: Huge burritos are a nutritious fast food meal. Hint 2: caffeine negatively impacts cognition. Hint 3: Your apartment has an automatic dishwasher. Use it. If you eat at home, paper plates and plastic silverware were made for times like this.

You no longer have time to watch TV. Hint: Watch favorite shows on Hulu when finals are over.

Do you have any crunch time advice? Leave a comment.

– – by David Albrecht

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Procrastination …

I’m giving a test tomorrow.  At 11:22 p.m., am just now putting the finishing touches on the exam problems.  Why didn’t I do it earlier?

And I’ve had a never ending stream of cell phone calls and texts from students who are studying.  It’s obvious that many are studying the material for the first time.  Like me, they have been procrastinating.

Taking a detour on Youtube reveals evidence of some very creative people who created videos while procrastinating from school or work or whatever.

The first video is a simple song by KissPriss.  Priss has a nice voice, but she is avoiding school work.

MelTab27 puts a bit more effort into her video.  Procrastinators know very well about tomorrow, except MelTab spells it T-O-M-O-R-O.

Tina Solar (Splash1121) writes a simple song about procrastination.  The video, however, is anything but simple.  Nice job Tina.

Cat Dunn writes about the fun of procrastination.  No song here, but Cat is very entertaining.

If you made it to this point of the blog post, you really don’t want to do whatever.  Now, get back to work!

by David Albrecht

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And the Beat Goes On

Up in North America, fall semester is about 60% complete.  Well, complete may be not be the best term to use given that an awful lot of professor dumping still needs to fall on students.  Professor dump?  Papers, projects and tests.

When I was a college student, it seemed as if a semester would last forever.  It would just go on and on, sort of like the beat.

Salvatore Philip Bono and Cheryl Sarkisian (a.k.a. Sonny and Cher) were a force back then.  I really liked them.  He was short and smart, and she was a wild and unpredictable babe.  I loved their TV show, it seemed so clever and wholesome.

Sonny wrote one of the all time classics, “And the Beat Goes On.”  The video clip I’m embedding here isn’t the best recording of the song, but it captures Sonny and Cher on their show when both were singing well, and they both seemingly liked each other.

by David Albrecht


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Give Me 25

The student union at Concordia College is called Knutson.  It contains the campus dining room, the campus grill (Maize), mail boxes, a few conference rooms, and the large all purpose room where many students hang out.  The large room is next to the Maize, and is also called the Maize.

How do people distinguish one Maize from the other?  They do so by the context of its use. “I’m going to the Maize to eat,” signals quite a different experience than, “I’m going to the Maize to hang out.”

At noontime, I head to the Maize to get lunch.  Today I knew that Lisa had made egg salad for me and I was in for a treat.

But I also head to the Maize to see my students for a few minutes.  I’ve been able to expand my circles to include the friends of the students.

This semester on Tuesday and Thursday I am sure to see a group of 10+ in the center of the room, four of whom will be sitting in my statistics classes later in the afternoon. Today, one my four asked, “Professor Albrecht, can I skip your class today?”  He has a management team project he needs to work on.

Knowing how crunched for time he is (he had previously talked to me about it), I told him to work on the project.  But as I got through the group and was passing next to him, I said, “You can skip class but you gotta give me 25 push ups.”  He immediately understood, and readily agreed.  You see, he’s an athlete and he understands the role of push ups, sit ups and/or laps to drive home a point.

In sports, if you make a mistake, a coach will get on you.  For something to serve as a reminder not to do it again, you have to drop and give the coach 5, 10 or whatever.  It’s also a bit of punishment for making the mistake. After doing the push ups, the mistake is forgiven and everyone moves on.

I could never use push ups in my classes, there are non-athletes and they just wouldn’t understand.  But sometimes I wish I could be more like a coach.

By David Albrecht

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Best of Pondering the Classroom – 2010

Bloggers love the final post of any year, because it is time for “The Best Blog Posts of the Year.”  Although it might as if bloggers are back patting themselves, there is a higher purpose for these posts:  milking just a few more reads without having to write new content.

I’ve gone over the posts from the first year of Pondering the Classroom, and have selected my favorites.  In no particular order, they are:

Enjoy!  Share with all your friends on Facebook.

by David Albrecht

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How We Spend Our Holiday Break

Is your holiday break filled with fun ...

It is the holiday break for professors, students and staff at colleges and universities.  I have experienced 40 of them, from all three perspectives.  For all of us, it is an integral part of the academic year.  Here are some thoughts.

Is it a holiday break or a Christmas break?  In the USA, I think it is Christmas break.  Decades ago, we would conclude the fall term by wishing each other, “Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”  Then Christmas wishes fell out of favor because religious sentiments are politically incorrect in a secular world.  At my previous stop, the always proper university president would send out seasons greetings (one year he wished us happy holidays).  Now, however, Christmas break seems to be making a comeback.  Perhaps most of us recognize that Christmas has been taken over by merchants and shoppers.  Because Christmas is a secular holiday, then it might now be acceptable to refer to it as Christmas break.  Better yet, refer to it as Christmas Shopping Break.  Respect your merchants and they will take care of you.

What we do when home with the family has now changed.  At home with my college age sons and their friends, we’d all be sitting around the living room, each Facebooking on a separate laptop.  Social media have taken over the break period.

The amount of attention paid to the New Year holiday is a function of your station in life.  For students, it is time to party (is it still pronounced parTAY?).  Being home alone might be fine for Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin’s signature role), but it isn’t for any college student.  For old professors who no longer need to eat beans to function as an old fart, getting to bed on time is much more pleasurable than TV watching the ball drop on Times Square.

For the majority of my years in academia, I’ve been at schools with a three week break, but now I’m at a school with a two week break.  I’m discovering that the break’s length has a major impact on what can be accomplished.  A two week break leaves little time for anything but sleeping, napping, shopping, feasting, Facebooking (and other social media) and watching athletic events on TV.

My sons, home from grad school, are relaxing.  One has a two week break, the other has three.  The two week break doesn’t leave enough time for him to do anything but tend to his non-working life.  The son with a three week break will be able to devote several days to finding that perfect job after college.

When I was at a school with a three week break, I had lots of time to work on scholarly matters.  I’d read papers, do statistical tests on data sets, and submit papers.  But this break has been different.  There are only two weeks to get lots of things done.  Here’s my schedule for the 16 day period:

  • Grade exams and papers for fall term:  4 days
  • Travel from college town to home, and back again:  3 days
  • Shopping:  1 day
  • Christmas holiday with family:  1 day
  • E-mail (at a rate of 300 per day):  2 days
  • Chatting with coffee shop friends:  2 days
  • Preparing syllabi for next term:  1 day
  • Blogging, LinkedIn, Facebook:  2 days
  • Scholarly activities:  no time left

... or work?

I’m getting feedback from professor friends.  One writes, “Submitted a paper to National Tax Journal this week and am finishing a paper for the JAR Conference. Also working on a couple of other projects.”  Another writes, “Attended some social gatherings, finished a submission to Journal of Accounting and Public Policy (haha!!! a capital market based corporate governance study), went with my wife to Somerset Mall in Troy, Michigan with my son and his girl friend.”  Retired professor Bob Jensen writes, “… for the next 40 years I don’t think I ever had a real “break” in which I did not work all or part of every day called a break.   … But then I never did deal very well with leisure time. My (grown) kids remind me of this now and then. Sigh!”

I much prefer having a three week Christmas break.  With only two weeks, there simply isn’t enough time to get caught up on everything I put off during fall semester.

by David Albrecht

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