Friday, October 18, 2013

The Ideal Major?

Overheard in the sauna at the gym: couple of old coots talking about the young athletes they'd met at Palookaville U.  From the sound of things, one had been some sort of athletic director.  I couldn't quite pinpoint the other, but they seemed to have known a number of the same young people--guys who used to play on Palookaville sports teams.

And don't let the "athlete" bit mislead you: Palookaville is not on anybody's sports radar so the jocks here just play games--no talk of major league contracts, or branding, or drug use.  Just games.

Still,  the thing was, the old guys seemed to know a lot about the youngsters, and a lot about their lives, both in school and out.  In short, they seemed to take an interest in their careers and lives.  One of the speakers avowed as how he was off to the city this weekend to preside at the wedding of one of the young men.

They also talked a bit about "character."  In this context, "character" seemed to mean "a desire to win," but also steadiness, self-discipline, good order.  "Helpful in any field," said one of the saunees. "Yep," agreed the other.

And in passing they mentioned their favorite major.  My suspicion is you wouldn't guess it but take a stab.   Go on. Take a stab.   You said "English"?  Heh, dreamer--but you knew that couldn't be right once you said it, not so?   Oh, I know, you say, ROTC!  Shrewd guess, but Palookaville doesn't offer ROTC.  So now you're thinking it must be business administration.

You're getting warm, but still not quite there. Turns out that what these guys really admired was the major in construction management.  The what?  Well yes, it turns out the university does offer a major in "construction management," with a BS degree.   It is not the same as "business," though my surmise is that it is some sort of a spinoff.   

So what is it these guys liked about "construction management"?  I can only guess, but I went back to the catalog and looked at the blurb.  I find they present a faculty "with a beneficial blend of academic preparation, successful teaching experience at the college and/or university level, and most importantly significant experience managing construction operations"  (my italics). They also boast that graduates "historically experience an extraordinarily bright career horizon immediately upon graduation. Virtually all CM students are aggressively recruited by both local and nationally based construction companies of all types."

In short (my words) "we don't get bogged down in all that theory stuff. We teach you what you need to know to get a job."  It's a pitch that surely separates them from the centers of higher learning on the other side of campus. My notion is that it probably separates the construction guys also from the folks in the "real" business program who have crept, I suspect, ever closer to the realms of higher abstraction. Compare: I can't put my finger on it right now but I remember a story from a while back about the students at, I think, the Culinary Institute of America, complaining that their professors (sic?) were ladling out the theory when all the youngsters wanted was the pots and pan.

Oh I know, I know, all of this is to make the folks over in Arts and Sciences roll over and gag. That would include my nearest and dearest (it would include me, insofar as I ever did get an education, which was patchy). But I suppose there is something to be said for teaching in a department where the students (and even the faculty) know why they are there, and what they can expect to get out of it. Who knows, they might even find somebody to preside at their wedding.


The New York Crank said...

Yeah, but how does the pep song go, assuming there is one?

I'm a rambling wreck
From Palookaville Tech
And a helluva construction manager
I build and I build and I build and I build
And I take home a big pay check -- for a wreck.

I likes my dames with hard hats on
My beer with the tabs pulled off
I'm a rambling wreck
From Palookaville Tech
And I have to pause now to cough.

Oh nevermind.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

The New York Crank said...

And furthermore...

I was in bed, nearly asleep, when I felt the compulsion to jump up, run to my laptop, and add this Palookaville Tech Construction ditty, singable wherever you can find an officially-designated scan-free verse zone:

Mothers, don't let your sons
Grow up to be construction management consultants
Red hot rivets fall on 'em
And bricks then upon 'em
And they're gone from home months at a time

Yes, Mothers don't let your sons
Grow up to be construction management consultants
They get killed by steel girders
The hours are murder
And they'll all get divorced twice
Before this verse rhymes.

Oh, Mothers don't let your sons
Grow up to be construction management consultants
Instead send them to law school,
Or B-School or J-School
Or Med School or Vet School
Or some other damn school
It's less of a hassel
If they don't hang a tassel
On your hard hat and call it
A round mortarboard.

Mothers..oh enough already

Yours still crankily,
The New York Crank