Tag Archives: college

Family Grading

I don’t know who decided that college students should hand-write their exams, but I’m not a fan of that person. As the TA for an undergrad class, I spent 90% of my grading time trying to read illegible handwriting. 

Thankfully, my Mom and siblings are better at deciphering messy handwriting than I am. And also thankfully, I’m home this weekend, so I get the benefit of their hand-writing interpretations. And opinions. They are very opinionated about which students deserve what grade. 

It brings lots of welcome laughter. 

“I think he means ‘talk’ but that word looks like ‘fulk’ which is uncomfortably close to another four letter f word.” 

“Is there any reason this essay should be about…spiders? Am I reading that right?” 

“That is not the definition of a republic. Geesh, I’m not even in this class and I know that.”

“Give that kid a B+.” “No, dock points for how illegible that handwriting was! B-!” “It was FINE. We were able to piece it together. But actually, this other essay is way better so give him a B- anyway.”

“She was doing SO WELL and then she just abruptly ended. What happened?!” 

If only these students knew. 


Semester Reads

Christmas came early (or perhaps late? I did accept this job last year) for me. I got finally got the syllabus for the class I am TAing for this semester and it includes the books we will be reading. The authors are:

  • Machiavelli 
  • Luther
  • Swift
  • Hobbes
  • Locke
  • Kant
  • Smith
  • Rousseau 
  • Marx
  • Nietzsche 

Going to be good!! I do hope my students are prepared for how much of a Locke fangirl I am.


Discussion Groups

Let’s recap: I am a TA this semester. I have never been a TA before. I have never had a TA. I do not really know what I am talking about most of the time because I have also not read any of these texts before, or, if I have, not read them academically.

But so far, I’ve been doing okay. Homer I already knew and could talk intelligently about. Herodotus and the PDFs we read about honor culture I could fudge well enough. Aristophanes I previously read for fun so I knew the principle players, so to speak.

But Plato is going to be the death of me. 

I read a passage from The Republic. It makes little sense to me. I show up to class and hear the lecture. Ah! Dimly, enlightenment begins to dawn. I go to the other TA with my big questions. Further clarity. I go to lecture again. 

Then I’m supposed to lead a discussion group where I explain what we read, foreshadow what will come, and answer questions I didn’t even think of. 

What a ride.

My first discussion group gets the brunt of this problem. I am a verbal processor so even if I get it, I need to say it out loud to really get it. 

My second group benefits from this. I speak a little more confidently; I already know what areas I don’t know. 

The third group gets the best version of me. I know what I want them to get. 

The fourth group gets the ‘I’ve been talking all day and now get this so this is all review and I skip the six questions that met with dead silence in the earlier groups but now I’ve got to somehow fill 10 more minutes’ version of me. 

Theoretically, though, I have to say…by the end of the day, I really know the readings inside and out!


Meet Jasmine.

Meet my friend Jasmine.

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I previously alluded to her in my post about visiting Korea. We hung out with the same group of friends in college and our sophomore year she helped get me hooked on Korean dramas. 

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She was also one of the first people to support my dream (both financially and emotionally) of studying abroad at Oxford University. 

She has lived in India and visited I don’t know how many other cool places around the world since then. And almost exactly two years ago, she moved to Korea to teach English. 

And I got to visit her! Visiting Korea would be amazing under any context, but it made it extra fun that I got to explore it with a dear friend! 


Obscure Books

Bronze Age America
Humor: A Critical Analysis for Young People
Poems of Abraham Lincoln 

What do these three books have in common? They’ve been on my to-read list forever and I never thought they’d leave. Until today. 

Folks, I’ve made the most glorious discovery. Admittedly, it is one that should have occurred to me last year: I have access to multiple libraries through my university. Actually, not just my university, but all the libraries in all the state schools across my state. All mine! 

I started searching some of the more obscure tomes on my to-read list and I have been delighted by the results. This is dangerous, folks. This is power. 


Three Years

Three years ago today, I graduated from Bryan College with my bachelor’s degree. I then chose to take a gap year (er, two) before attending law school. In an alternative universe, I would have gone straight to law school. Instead of ending of my 1L year, this week would culminate in my graduation from legal education. That was the plan. 

I am so glad it did not happen that way. 

It strikes me as funny when I talk about the past two years. I murmur offhandedly, “Oh, I worked for a few years before coming to law school.” As if two of the most formative years of my life were just NBD…no big deal. 

I suppose in the big picture they might prove just that: a mere blip in time between college and my “real” career as a lawyer. 

But even if that is the case, I wouldn’t trade those years with AFP for anything. My work there developed so much of who I am and how I see myself. I can’t imagine who I would be if I went straight from my undergraduate to the pressure cooker that is law school. That vision holds no appeal for me.

From an academic standpoint, straight-from-undergraduate-me might have embraced law school better. Independence would mean little to her, so a life of student loans and borrowed rides to church would feel natural. I would still be a perfectionist with an angsty desire to go go go so I imagine I would have joined just as many clubs (if not more) and still jumped into an internship as soon as possible. From a practical standpoint, I doubt my legal career so far would look very different. 

Yet that isn’t quite true. I landed both my legal internships to date because of my connection with AFP. I’ve prioritized certain activities and de-emphasized others because I know the sort of people I want to be around. I’ve approached projects and people and ideas with the confidence of someone who has achieved something difficult, and failed multiple times while doing it. 

I am so much more me because I waited two years. Also, I owe a heck of a lot less loans because I paid off those undergraduate ones. 

It gives me hope for the next three years. I never saw myself here three years ago, and yet here I am. Who knows what will come next? The only thing I know for certain is that  whatever it is, I’ve been equipped and mentored and well prepared for it. And if I fail? I’ve got an amazing community that will cheer me on anyway.

(Plus, I can always peace back to the mountains of Idaho and live the rest of my life in chacos, right?) 


College v. Law School: Office Hours

Professors’ office hours confuse me. I think I used them wrong during my undergraduate. Either that or Bryan College had an exemplary open door policy. Office hours here at the law school baffle me somewhat. 

You see, during my senior year of high school I read an article that said graduate students should make sure to stop by and chat with their academic advisers on a regular basis. I figured if that held true for graduate students, it ought to hold doubly true for undergraduate ones. In college, I visited my academic adviser at least once a week. As long as his door was open, I marched in and struck up a conversation. Topics ranged from Starbucks ice cream to Biblical restitution to the state of Virginia politics. I went by myself; I dragged friends with me. It never occurred to me this was unusual. I built relationships with all my professors in a similar way, though perhaps not so specifically. Office hours, to my mind, meant an opportunity to get to know the professor outside of the classroom. 

Office hours here at the law school look somewhat different. You go in, ask your very classroom-specific question, and move on. You might fit some small talk in, but dropping by just to drop by is an alien and discouraged idea. 

In a sense, I get why. Even my smallest law school class rivals the combined student numbers of the Politics and History department at Bryan College. If all of us wanted to drop by for a chat, the professors would have no time to do anything else. They aren’t my academic adviser. In the big picture, they churn out a lot of future lawyers, and I am just one more. I get it…

Yet it still throws me. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced Bryan College was unusual. The school set a policy that sought to value each student and each interaction with them. Whether they always succeeded is up for debate. However, being in an academic setting away from it, I am doubly grateful for it. Bryan College gave me quite a sense of entitlement! 

What does this mean for me here law school? If I want individualized attention, I will just need to put a little bit more effort in. I am sure it will be easier to find specific mentors once I have more direction. Until then, it is up to me to seek out the people who can help me find that direction and sit in those stale office hours until I get it!