Quick explanation / clarification –recently I criticized a publicity post from the University at Albany. Their publicity staff felt it worth advertising that an MBA grad student at the university had knitted 55 scarves in two weeks and then donated the hand knitted scarves to the homeless.  I think the fact that this was praised is problematic.   
  1. I have two degrees from the University at Albany. (I also have a third degree from a more challenging school.) In both cases, I think I would have done better to attend elsewhere, especially in the TESOL (commonly known as “English as a Second Language”)  education program. Although I got my degree, I considered the classes and staff to be particularly bad and the learning environment horrible. I attended because of geography and economics (in fact, I received aid from NYS government to attend as job retraining.) When I entered my program in the summer, I had a good attitude, but by the end of the first semester I was disillusioned.   
  2. Although I have found much work in the field and enjoy it, I have spent much time learning as much as possible about the field and making up for this poor initial education. I take pride in my work and my skills and learn as much as possible so I can do the best job I can. (I honestly feel this attitude was discouraged in my program.)
  3. As for the student, consider the following:
    1. The key to being efficient and reaching one’s peak is time management.
    2. There are only 24 x 7 or 168 hours in a week. Of these most people spend about a quarter to a third on sleep, bathing, maintenance, eating and so on, leaving a person with about 112- 126 hours a week for productive activity.
    3. When I was in my (non-U Albany) academic program I soon learned that the difference between failure and success lay in utilizing these hours efficiently.
    4. By contrast, this student seems to have only recently realized that she has many hours a week she could devote to knitting scarves.
  4. Graduate programs are (generally) intended to provide an adult with a high level of expertise and ability in a field. They should be challenging and they should be designed so that a person gets out of their program what they put in.
  5. Conventionally a full time student takes 15 credits which is roughly considered to take 45 hours a week of work at a typical school. At my non-U Albany program, it took much more time. At the U Albany TESOL program it took much less. (the U Albany TESOL program was not very challenging. I did ask for extra work my first semester. I was told I had an attitude problem. This response came from the same professor woman who designed the final project portion of the program. This  allegedly taught how to do scientific research in the educational field, I found her program confusing because it showed a poor grasp of how to do scientific research throughout.  Once I looked carefully at the models we were supposed to emulate, realized they weren't actually intended to be science but isntead public relations wrapped in the vocabulary and trappings of science, [learned to ignore the obvious flaws, and dumb down my answers to fit her misunderstandings of what scientific research looked like and resemble the models, and just turn in stupid trash instead of quality work, I passed the course. It was a dumb course. No one cared. 
  6. If a student is only occupied 45 hours a week, they should probably have a job or be active in some program that will enhance their future.
  7. I think the university at Albany would do better if it raised standards in its classes and challenged and occupied its students more. I do not think students in a quality graduate program should have forty extra hours of time a week.
  8. Just because something is good to do, does not mean something is the best thing to do. For instance, if we assume that hugging lonely puppies is a good thing to do, does that mean a University at Albany student should be praised for hugging lonely puppies for 100 hours a week? I most certainly hope not.
  9. According to some sources, it takes a good knitter an hour or two to knit a scarf. Therefore knitting 55 scarves takes about 80 hours, over two weeks that makes 40 hours. That is the equivalent of a 9 to 5 job for a week.
  10. If one has forty hours a week to spend on the homeless is it necessarily the best use of that time to knit them scarves? Particularly if one allegedly has a body of specialized knowledge on how to start and manage a business or other organization?
  11. Does no one at the university of Albany public relations department see this as a problem? If not, does the university encourage critical thinking and analysis? (I am quite comfortable in saying my program did not.)
  12. Did anyone do a needs assessment of the local homeless? Did hand knitted scarves come up as a priority? If they were cold might it not have been better to sell the 55 hand knitted scarves at a premium and use the resulting funds to buy a larger quantity of less expensive cold weather clothing and keep more homeless warm? Just asking. I’m not the MBA student here.