So many people have a specific journey in life; how they get from one place to another. Sometimes it seems as though we are destined to become something, others pave their path to true success. Being a college student who has aspirations in the education field, I decided to think about how I could get from point A to point B. My story is a little bit different than most. I am 27 years old, a mother of one, and currently a senior at the College of Staten Island. As you can see, not the typical college student due to major personal milestones in my life. That is another story for another time.
I major in Secondary Education with a concentration in Social Studies. Someday soon I hope to become a middle school or high school Social Studies teacher. According to the Department of Education and New York State rules, I must teach for a minimum of eight years before I can apply to become an Assistant Principal or a Principal. Yet this isn't even my ultimate goal. People tell me I'm crazy when I tell them what I really wish to be is the President of a university.
This got me to thinking about a lot of things. So many people have plans in place as to what they wish to become in life, what path they choose to follow for their career. I have had so many interesting professors while attending CSI, and the title of "college professor" was absolutely something I had considered as becoming my profession at sometime in my life. I decided to ask a former professor of mine a few questions as to how he got to the place he is today. I also wondered if he was happy with his decision and where he stands on the typical "college student" and "college experience."
After graduating high school in 2002, the professor I interviewed, who shall remain anonymous throughout, attended CSI because admittedly, he wasn't a very good student. For those of you who don't know, admission to CSI is a fairly easy process. As long as you have a GED or a High School Diploma, your acceptance is only contingent on taking an assessment test for placement into a Math or English class. He also wasn't very "academically minded" at the time, meaning he basically just didn't care all that much about school. It was an "obvious choice" for someone who lived on Staten Island. Here, I would have to agree. Why commute to a private institution or dorm, pay upwards of thousands upon thousands of dollars in tuition and fees, just to get the same if not better education at CSI?
This professor chose to major in cinema studies. He always wanted to be a filmmaker and took a unique interest in the subject. Personally, I never thought of that to be a good major to pick, but that's just my opinion. It's great that you're interested in something and choose to pursue it, but in the financial scheme of life, not a very lucrative choice. What kind of jobs would someone with a cinema degree hope to obtain? Working on a movie set, directing, writing? What kind of connections would you have to make? This is undoubtedly a hard road to travel.
It took him five and half years, or eleven semesters, in order for him to complete his degree. Not coming from a very wealthy family, he needed to work many different part time jobs to make ends meet. He was a tour guide, worked at FYE in the Staten Island Mall, and also worked at a catering company all during his tenure at CSI. He admits that most people usually don't graduate in four years, and I can attest to that statement. It's sort of this academic myth that the media pushes on us.
Starting as an apathetic student, he didn't really become invested in his studies until his second year, when he started courses for his major. That's when he really dove in and wanted to learn, because he was studying something that he was interested in. I guess not everyone is as interested in the general education requirements as I am. I found the general education requirements to be necessary and interesting, but this proves that not everyone has the same experience.
According to my source, the worst part of his college experience was the ivory tower mentality of some of the professors, meaning that they always thought they were above or better than others, especially their students. While some were really good communicators, others definitely showed disdain for their working class students. Rather than opening up their eyes to new ideas and possibilities, they already assumed that you should have some kind of appreciation or understanding of the art and culture they were trying to teach you about.
This jaded sense followed him throughout his academic career. Upon graduating with his bachelors degree, he realized that without the proper connections it was really difficult to get a job with his cinema degree. Creative jobs often take a lot of luck. He took an additional three years to obtain his masters degree. His interaction with his professors are what drove him to become a college professor. He swore to himself that he would never be like those who showed such disdain for him.
But not everything is all sunshine and rainbows. As an adjunct professor, he works for peanuts. He always gets the worst course sections to teach, and he has to work at multiple universities in order to make ends meet. But still, he says he is happy. Tune in next week for a follow up article to see why he chooses to stay in a thankless profession. Maybe it will make some of my readers understand why people do certain things even though they don't get to live a glamorous life.