Friday, October 20, 2006

I knew that...

Inside Higher Ed reports on a study that says married men (and women) get through grad school more successfully than single people.

Price said it was notable that a majority of women in his study who were married had children, and yet they were more productive and successful than single women. He said he hoped that those admitting graduate students to programs and hiring them would take note. “We shouldn’t view married women as being less able to do well in graduate school and the professoriate,” he said.

I knew that...I'm the only mother in my co-hort and will be the first to be ABD among my cohort.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Making history...

I just found this story that bloggers in the U.K. were urged to blog yesterday about how history affects them to create the biggest blog in history. What a great idea. I'm a day late, but I can share a bit of my life for history's sake.

My life at this point is touched by many things, but Education is the most salient.

My life at UNC and my husband's at WFU put us in the center of higher education every day. While there are calls from the Secretary of Education and others to make sure that college students are actually learning something in college, we don't necessarily see those problems at our schools. Our students are here to learn and for the most part, they work hard. Some of the remedial work that needs to be done at this level involves writing skills. This is something students are not getting enough of at the high school level. Aneil and I had a great teacher at Okemos High School, Doug Collar, who set us on the path to excellent writing.

We also see the K-12 educational system through our children's experiences and there are no easy answers to the problems of K-12 education. The public school our kids went to the first year in Chapel Hill was terrible, despite its outstanding reputation. Large class sizes, ill-equipped teachers, and misbehaving children made for a miserable experience for my children. They were so unhappy that they begged us to move them to private school. Private school, however, has its issues, too. Arrogant administrators and snobby students don't necessarily make it a nice place to spend your time. My kids have a ton of homework every day and this year is not their best year for nurturing teachers, either. We don't see an easy answer for what we are looking for. My husband keeps threatening home-schooling, but I think we all get enough of each other as it is. Where is there a school that cares for its students, creates a sense of community, and is concerned with excellence?

Just when I'm feeling old...

The man at Bruegger's Bagels called me "sweetie" this morning. Maybe I'm not as old as I think!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Paper taxes...

A column in the NY Times laments the season of fall with its wrapping paper sales for school-age children. I agree. My children go to private school and they still hold this fundraiser where we buy wrapping paper at twice the price so that our children will get credit for helping to buy new computers or bring in famous authors. All of these efforts are laudable, but I'd rather write another check. I bought too much wrapping paper last year and have too much leftover to buy any this year.

It got me thinking if there are paper taxes in grad school and this year, there is a paper tax. UNC used to provide printers on campus in a few places for high-speed printing for students, but this year decided that each grad student can have only one ream, or 500 sheets, of printing for free for the year. This subject has the students so upset that it is the topic at graduate student meetings. I just bit the bullet and brought a printer to school to print out my own papers and articles. So, I pay for my own printer, ink cartridge, and reams and reams of paper. There are some battles that are not worth fighting.

I guess I'll be ordering a lot more wrapping paper this week, too.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Typical Grad School Day...

I sat listening to NYU Professor Jay Rosen who was visiting UNC this past week and thought what an interesting day I had:

--Drop kids off at school

--Join prayer group with other moms from my children's school and church

--Scan articles for my graduate assistantship duties

--Code website articles for my graduate assistantship duties

--Listen to Jay Rosen, media critic and NYU professor

--Pick-up kids from school

--Help kids with homework

--Do my own homework

Just another typical day in grad school.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We all need new paradigm for work/family...

An article at Inside Higher Ed today discusses the many articles surrounding the studies at Yale and Princeton about women's intent to leave the workforce to care for children. Other articles written about these studies have exaggerated the numbers of women intending to leave the workforce, and so the controversy is about the interpretation of the numbers and how it depicts educated women.

When I was an MBA student at the University of Michigan, there was a great panel one Saturday afternoon about women's careers. I'll never forget one woman's description of her career that I think better describes what women do: women go through many phases of a career, not just one career, especially when children are involved. Whether a woman is highly educated or not, all parents see the value of spending as much time as possible with their young children so that the children bond with the parents and learn the values of the parents.

In our case, we made significant financial sacrifices so that I could spend a great deal of time with our children until they left for elementary school. It was also a career sacrifice for me--I gave up a "normal" career track with all that comes with it--title, income, promotional opportunities, etc., but I have the satisfaction of knowing my children and knowing that I raised them with the help of some great babysitters.

I think the dialogue about women, education and career needs to change. If companies and universities are concerned about women "dropping out" then they need to help change the paradigm. Why can't more companies offer part-time options for women with young children? Why can't this be an acceptable option for a professionally minded person who also happens to be a mother? The end result is better for everyone--children who feel loved and are raised by their parents, a more healthy respect for care-givers who help raise children, and grateful parents who are more loyal to those organizations who see them as whole people with whole lives.

Education is not something to be used up or wasted, but something to be a support throughout a woman's life, valuable for both work as mothers and work as employees.