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Archive for September 4th, 2007

Even NYTimes covers the first day of school

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Somehow, knowing that even the NYTimes does a first day of school story makes my barrage of them (one for each county district and the catholic schools) last month seem somehow less tortuous.

Their first day was decidedly more eventful than any of mine. My biggest task was finding four different news angles to get into it. (And to be honest, by the last of the four I covered, I was fresh out and just went with a straight feature.) They also had a whole troop of reporters canvassing the city, whereas I was puttering myself across the county every day to get to multiple schools. It’s kind of funny to me. How many reporters does it take to cover the first day of school? Apparently two to write it and another four to contribute additional reporting. That’d be like half our local reporting staff.

Oh well, it’s reassuring to know even the best get this assignment. And really, I didn’t mind so much once I was doing it. It was the idea of doing it that I hated.

Advice to college freshmen

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Haha, love this piece from the NYTimes: Welcome, Students. Now Watch It.

Instead of the traditional “make sure you make a wish in the fountain” or “kiss under the arch” that many colleges and papers peddle this time of year, this is a fun, snarky, no-B.S. list of things NOT to do when you’re a student in NYC.

I always wanted to go to NYC for school. But ah las, I could barely afford to stay in my own home state for college. So that wasn’t an option. But I think this type of approach would be fun for any school/student newspaper. Here’s 5 of mine from my time at Kent State, followed by a few observations on my time around Purdue.


  • Don’t spend all your money on campus. Just because you can buy food and groceries on campus doesn’t mean you won’t get ripped off. Dude, Acme is within easy walking distance, has better selection and a bonus card. Extra bonus points: Campus Wine Cellar is on the way. Plus, Kent State is already making a killing on you through fees and tuition. Don’t encourage them.

  • Don’t make eye contact with the people handing out fliers or “you’re going to hell” tracts near the student center. Sure, they have the right to be there, even if what they’re peddling is disgraceful or disgusting. Don’t get into a conversation. Even when you agree, you lose. And then, you’re late to class.
  • Don’t pull the fire alarm. Just because your drunken self has nothing better to do doesn’t mean the rest of your dormmates don’t have 7:45 classes or jobs to get to in the morning. Seriously. Grow up.
  • Don’t catch the bus to class and then complain when you’re late. Nothing on campus is that far. And everyone know the bus schedule is merely a suggestion not the reality.
  • Don’t forget to see downtown Kent — during day light. Far too many Kent Staters see only the bars of downtown Kent and never eat at Franklin Square Deli or watch the train go by or sit by the Cuyahoga. There’s also some pretty quirky “only in Kent” stores you should see.


(noting that I don’t actually have much to do with the school, this is all based on my experience living among and around college students, these are decidedly more tongue-in-cheek)

  • Don’t live on Dodge Street if you intend to sleep or park anywhere on game nights. Wish someone had given me this tip before I moved into what I came to pretty quickly learn was party central — every night of the week.

  • Don’t bother crossing at cross walks. Only seven pedestrians have been hit in 2007, and only three of them were actually injured. Besides, all the cool kids are jaywalking. Don’t believe me? Watch the video.
  • Don’t bring a car to campus. Seriously, there’s no where to park anywhere in Lafayette/West Lafayette on a good day. Add 40,000 additional vehicles, driven by inexperienced, caffeinated and sometimes drunk students and those seven pedestrians hit is likely to skyrocket. Besides, walking across campus will help work off those late night binges.
  • Don’t complain about how there’s nothing to do. There are hundreds of student organizations, tons of restaurants and bars, a few libraries (and book stores) and 39,000 other undergrads who have nothing better to do than play cornhole and walk around half-naked near the streets. Plus, Indy’s only an hour away and Chicago is just over two. Stop complaining. You could be in Kent.
  • Don’t bother going to graduation. I don’t think they tell you this in the view book, BUT, they don’t even announce your name. In fact, your name is projected about 20 at a time on the stage as you and another student walk simultaneously across the stage in opposite directions toward the middle. The whole culmination of four (or more) years hard work and thousands of dollars in tuition lasts less than 15 seconds. Sorry to break it to you, but someone should.
  • I’ll think of some more. I’m tired now. I’ll recruit some actual Boilermakers to help with this.

And there you have it. My five reasons Meranda is over college, and why she has realized living in a college town, while having its benefits, also has many downfalls.

Definitely not about the money

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

So, I saw this list of awesome education statistics from the Census Bureau linked from Al’s Morning Meeting and bookmarked it to peruse later. As in tonight.

I was a little sad I hadn’t stumbled on it sooner, or thought to look. See, back to school for me was early to mid-August. Yes, most of the little buggers in this county started back Aug. 13 & 14. I KNOW?! Insanely early. But they also finished up by the end of May, which is a nice trade off if you ask me. But I digress.

As I was flipping through the stats, I made notes to myself, “Oh that’s interesting. I didn’t know 70 percent of students are enrolled in all-day kindergarten. I could have used that stat in all those stories I wrote.” Or that “Only 50 percent of full-time college students are employed. (NO wonder everyone else seemed less stressed than me!)”

Then I came across this tid-bit, and I won’t lie, it sort of depressed me: $14.18 Average hourly wage for the nation’s school bus drivers in 2004-05. Custodians earned $12.61, while cafeteria workers made $10.33. Bus drivers make more than me, and custodians earn almost as much on average. Not that I would want either job (though mom did try to lure me into being a campus bus driver, sorry ma, transportation was your thing not mine), or would be good at either. But still, it just puts into perspective how much I get paid after busting my butt to get my degree and the experience necessary to get a job in a competitive field.

But then again, I didn’t get into journalism for the money. (Thank, God.) I got into it for the thrill of seeing a problem, trend, issue or injustice and finding out everything I can about it, what can and is being done about it and passing the knowledge/torch on to readers. I got into it because I can’t not ask when I have a question. I can’t not know.

In terms of how much I think I get out of my job, I think that makes up for some of the difference in pay. A lot of the difference in pay or I wouldn’t do it. I guess I’ll just be extra nice to all the district transportation directors, and keep the bus idea on the back-burner in case this reporting thing doesn’t work out. Lord help you all (and your children) if that ever happens. lol.

QOTD: Life is the art of drawing without an eraser

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.”
— John W. Gardner