I had an interesting morning today, participating in “Scholarship Day” at Mount Mercy University. MMU gives out one full-tuition scholarship each year, and other scholarship awards, as a result of various factors, including how well the invited incoming first-year student do in interview sessions with faculty and staff.
Today, I was paired with the director of financial aid, which was nice because I haven’t had a reason to sit down and chat with her before. That’s one of the perks of Scholarship Day—being paired, as a faculty member, with someone on the staff.
The kids were bright and eager, and a bit nervous. They handled our questions well.
But we were using a script. It’s a decent script, but it got me to thinking. What would I really want to know about an incoming student? Here are some ideas of my questions:
- Do you laugh at lame jokes told by old people? Especially if those old people are college professors?
Can you name a Beatles song, or a Beatle? Have you ever heard of “The White Album?”
- In the past month, what’s the longest period of waking time you’ve spent without checking your mobile phone?
- Can you walk up a hill every morning and recognize that it’s an opportunity to get your blood flowing and not a deficit of nature or an evil plot? In particular, can you refrain from complaining about walking up said hill, especially when you make yourself look ridiculous to an old man who rides a bicycle up that same hill every morning?
- Are you kind to squirrels? Are you scared of squirrels? Are you smart enough to know that there is no reason to feed squirrels? (Yes, yes, blog pals, hold on. I know, I’m not smart enough to avoid feeding squirrels. But, I don’t feed the aggressive ones found on a college campus—and neither should anybody else. They are too bold already).
- Are you flexible when things don’t go completely as planned? If a professor tries an experiment and it’s not a wild success, do you trash her for trying? Can you handle change with grace and poise?
- Will you try something new? For the first time, make music? Act on stage? Dance at a marathon? Cheer at a ball game? Play with Jell-O on a hillside? Do things you haven’t done before—take a chance just because you can?
- Are you a picky eater? If the cafeteria doesn’t prepare the food exactly the way mom did, is that a crisis for you? If given an open-ended license to choose whatever you want to eat from a reasonable range, do you still whine about how bad the food is?
- If you failed to learn in a particular class, is it always the teacher’s fault? If you get a poor grade, is it because the teacher didn’t “like” you? If you’re given a schedule at the start of a 14-week cycle and a paper is clearly listed as being due on Wednesday of week 6, do you blame someone else for not “reminding” you of what you’ve already been told? When you screw up, do you accept that you screwed up or do you blame others?
- Are you willing to open your mind? Can you accept that there are other points of view? Do you recognize that you don’t know it all? Are you put off by the reality that the reason most college professors think that they are smarter than you is because most college professors are smarter than you? (I’ve got news, kids. You’re 18. Most janitors are smarter than you).
OK, so maybe the questions are a bit pejorative. And maybe I’m being an old curmudgeon. I suppose I have some standing for that role, and I wouldn’t want my list of questions to suggest that I didn’t enjoy meeting some pleasant young people today. I did. It’s just that there are other things I wonder about.
The fact that I might be curious about some of the answer doesn’t mean I would be rude enough to ask the questions. And composing my fake interview list also made we curious about something else: What questions would my students like to direct to their professors that they don’t often get a chance to ask?
Well, a number of my students write their own blogs. Final question: Any takers on that challenge?