Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Undergraduate emails

It is the second or third or fourth week of the semester (I'm not teaching this semester, so I've kind of lost track), and my department holds a freshman seminar class to orient the freshman to the department. There is homework, but it is "orienting" homework. Apparently, last week's homework was to interview a faculty member to find out why they chose to be in science/engineering, why they chose academia, what they do, etc. They get two weeks.

I got a lot of emails (based on the size of the class), and I have determined that I got a statistically large number of emails - more than half. I know I got all of the females. But I also got a significant portion of the guys as well. If I was egotistical at all, I would say it was for appearance reasons - but I think it is because of laziness - my name falls near the beginning of the alphabet. The male profs who fall before me, well, I wouldn't want to interview them.

As I'm not in town right now, I clearly can't do these interviews this week. So, next week will be spent being interviewed by undergrads. I'm viewing as a two way interview - I would like to have some undergrad researchers in my group, so now I have the perfect chance to pre-screen and recruit early.

The undergrad school I went to didn't do this type of freshman seminar and I think it is a really good idea. I never interacted with faculty - except in my courses where they were the teacher. And those interactions were less than positive. And when I started undergrad I didn't even consider grad school, until I met a grad student who encouraged me. So, now I have a chance to meet with a bunch of undergrads and plant the seed early.

I realize that not every undergrad should go to grad school - I'm not that type of professor - but I also realize that not every undergrad is given the kind of encouragement they should be either. So now I have this chance. At least for ~50% of the class. Maybe I should change my last name to Aardvark to seal the deal.

(Now if they would just stop emailing me as Mrs. X, everything would be great... Maybe I'll suggest that can be included in the seminar as well - etiquette in communication)

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