Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Want My Money Back

I’m not one for using lyrics to express myself but in this case it’s just to hard to pass up. In the words of Ben Folds, give me my money back, give me my money bitch.

I Want My Money Back.

It’s been a little over a month since my classes started, and having taken a few tests and read a few books I think I can give me overall first impression of my classes. This is also my final full semester at NU (I have two summer sessions left) so naturally there is going to be some NU grumbling (A certified grumble has been spotted!) is to be had. Onward comrades!

Global Climate Change

It was this class, Dinosaurs or Natural Disasters in the running to fill my Natural World requirement. Natural Disasters was a class of 250, and Dinosaurs I have heard is not what it is advertised as, so I went with Climate Change.

So far I’m happy with my choice, knowledge has been learned and the reading easy. All in all I have received the education I expected; a bunch of facts I could have learned via a few hours of internet research. Go NU!


I took Spanish instead of testing out of Italian (for my language requirement) because I thought it would be better to walk away with an understanding of Spanish rather than bullshitting my way into two years of Italian on my transcript. I knew it would be hard but I figured it would end up being a fruitful choice, and so far it has been, very good choice on my part.

That being said, is it the best use of my money towards learning a language? Probably not. For the amount of money I spend on tuition I could probably spend a month or two in a Latin American country and I would walk away from it with a much better understanding of Spanish. Or I could go to a more cost beneficial program (compared to the cost of tuition) at a Language Institute.

If it wasn’t for the language requirement for a BA at NU I would not be taking Spanish, but this was the best use of the 4 credits I could find.

Contemporary Black Politics

I went into this class thinking we would start off by talking about local black politics (Chuck Turner and the like) and the up and comers in national African American community (Jesse Jackson Jr, Cory Booker, Michael Steele) and the effect of Barack Obama on the political process, especially for African Americans. Sounds like an interesting class right? That’s what I thought and that’s why I took it.

Well instead it has turned out to be a history class, centering on slavery and the struggle of African Americans from Reconstruction to Civil Rights. All well and good but the class is call CONTEMPORARY Black Politics. For those of you who may be confused about it’s definition, I present it to you now.

1. Belonging to the same period of time: a fact documented by two contemporary sources.
2. Of about the same age.
3. Current; modern: contemporary trends in design.

No where in the definition does it say history.

Now I understand that one needs to put the current political climate into a historical context but do you really need to do so for a 2 months (effectively half the scheduled class time)? If I wanted to learn about slavery and the struggle for equality I would have taken a History of Black Politics class. Instead I took this class because I all ready know about slavery, W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and Martin Luther King. What I wanted to better understand is the current state of African American politics the post-Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton era. I want to talk about my local African American community, something I encountered on my last Co-Op (btw I will post something soon about the BRA) and the future of African American political thought process.

But know I am learning about slavery for the 5th time in my life.

Senior Capstone

Going into this class (a graduation requirement mind you) all I wanted to do was write a 25 page paper on a Political Science topic of my choice. I wanted to research something that interested me and end up with a sizable piece of writing in a field I could head into in the future.

Yes I was asking for a large paper and mundane lectures, you would think I would get what I wanted.

What I got was group led class discussions, a bunch of mediocre to terrible books to read, and a pair of book reviews. No 25 page paper.

Quick rant: What is the benefit of group projects. I get that in real world working on a team is common but that doesn’t translate well to group projects. In the real world there is a designated leader who gets paid more and has the qualifications to delegate tasks. In a classroom setting there is no incentives for one to be the leader, and those who do step up are hardly ever qualified. There I said it.

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

In a normal class room setting this isn’t a bad thing, but when the discussions come from all corners of the Political Science spectrum and your teacher is versed in only one of them it can end up being vague and misrepresented. Couple that with the fact that there are 65 Political Science majors in one room open to discussion there is going to be some problems.

First you have to understand that Political Science majors go on to be, among other things, lawyers, policy wonks, politicians and professors; all people who carry large opinions and enjoy discussing them (or in most cases, shouting them). So yes this class has been a bunch of know-it-all students shouting unfounded statements at each other while the professor tries to manage a volume of students that is too large for each subject.

For once in my life I am not one of the top 5 talkers in the room.


Overall I’m disappointed, I expected more from this semester. So far all I have come away with is a bunch of facts I could have found from looking in a geology book and an understanding of the Spanish language I could have gotten (and then some) for cheaper by living in a Latin American country for a few months. I’m starting to think Will Hunting was right when he told that asshole from Harvard that he could get the same education with a library card and late fees.

That being said I should have seen this coming. I can count on one hand how many classes that I consider to have gotten my money’s worth out of. Not to mention I consider College to be a game in the way that High School was a game, just that this time I have to pay $40,000 a year for it.


  1. There are 65 kids in your capstone? That's insane. IAF capstone was split into two sections with 15-20 kids in each

  2. And don't forget
    To give me back my black T-shirt

    ...I still think that you should have taken the Dinosaur option.