Archive for August, 2008

References: the looks

I have already posted tips on writing recommendations for your teachers. They should also be careful about the physical shape in which they submit them.

Most institutions would prefer your recommendations (references) to be sealed in envelopes rather than open. You provide the envelopes, and you could also write your name on them to save teachers the effort. On the front you could write:

Math teacher recommendation for

Ivan Petrov

The teacher should fill in a form if there is one provided by the college and make sure he signs it where he is asked to.

He might wish to write a special text on a separate sheet of paper as well. It could look like this:

Recommendation

for Ivan Petrov


Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text

Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text

Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text

The teacher should sign here

Maria Stoeva
Teacher of Math

The additional sheet could be attached to the form with a staple.

The teacher should also sign the sealed envelope across the flap.

He gives the recommendation to you and you send it to the college along with all other documents unless the college requires him to send it directly to them.

Niki on “liberal arts OR career preparation OR what?”

First of all, get out of the “undecided” zone! You need to have at least some rough idea of what you want to do in order to make wise choices pertaining to the question of this topic. Don’t worry too much though. You pretty much have your first year in college to take that first step if you haven’t already done so.

Now that you have at least the field figured out, find some job posting and read through the position requirements. If those are vague, grab your roommate’s phone, come up with a fake name, and call up the people for clarification. Alternatively, you can ask professors in the respective department what it is all about. Just talk to them, they won’t bite (in most cases at least… fine, send emails instead).

So, now you have some idea of what it takes to do what you want to do. How does it sounds? Below are two examples.

“A successful candidate would have a working knowledge of the OSI networking model, VoIP protocols, including SIP, H323, MGCP, RTP, etc. Familiarity with RADIUS-based authentication and authorization systems utilizing TCL IVR and/or VXML is a plus. …”

“A successful candidate would have excellent time management and communication skills. We are looking for a quick learner. Working knowledge of a foreign language, especially Spanish and Portuguese is a strong plus. …”

Of course, everyone would require you to be able to write a letter that will not cause a reply consisting of “?!?!!!?!?!” (even less “?!!@*^%#$& ^%#$”), but take note of how specific requirements are. If there is something specific, chances are it is based on something else, not as advanced, perhaps, that is also specific. Therefore, you might want to take some specialized courses, hence career preparation track.

KEEP AWAY FROM VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS!!! Those are probably not even close to being heard of outside of the US, but I felt I would mention them anyway. If a school seems to promise you accelerated program that focuses only in a particular field of study, you should put a huge red flag up, or … simply toss out the brouchure as it is complete garbage. If you get into such a school, chances are you are going to be thought by retired industry professionals that are stuck in the past. You will come out with excellent profound knowledge of a technology that is going to be completely forgotten after five years or so. As an added bonus, you were thought so much specifics that you completely failed to see the big picture, hence you’re completely incapable to apply what you’ve just learned to something that is not the same, but is similar.

Ok, maybe you don’t want to go into anything specific and you go with liberal arts. Well, in any case, you will, in due time, come to realize that very different and seemingly unrelated areas can draw inspiration from each other when it comes to ideas. And coming up with ideas is what will give you some chance of getting a decent job and separate you from the mindless robots that are soon going to be replacing all those people that are flipping burgers. Just in case you are not sure about my last sentence, I’ll give an example:

A high school language teacher: mindless robot already starting to be replaced by tapes, DVDs, software, etc.
– PLUS –
The idea of going beyond the ministry-approved curriculum to help students
– EQUALS –
A high school language teacher who is neither just a teacher, nor in high school, but instead is giving a cool edge to young boys and girls who are realizing that higher education in Bulgaria sucks quite a bit. And as an added bonus the money is a bit better.
(Yes, I am talking about Lydia. Yes, I am very grateful however less I might show it. Yes, you won’t fully realize just how grateful you ought to be probably until you get your bachelor’s degree. Enough said.)

Going back to the point about liberal arts, we can conclude that liberal arts, or in other words knowing a lot about nothing, has the power of increasing your ability to create associations and thus get ideas. Cool, right? And yet, liberal arts is not the holy grail of higher education because if you don’t have at least a little bit of focused knowledge, your ideas would be too vague and thus worthless. You would also waste too much time on ideas that can easily prove ridiculous the moment you go into a little bit of details. Unless, of course, you’re a genius.

There is a lot more to be said, but I am simply too sleepy. And besides, I despise writing essays!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, if you happen to be at such a cross-road, good luck! I’d hate to be in your place. Choose wisely and discuss! Or actually don’t. First discuss and then choose wisely.

DISCLAIMER: Everything written above is purely my opinion and is based on hunch and personal observation rather than a healthy research. That is because I despise doing research as a step to writing essays. I and you rely on your own common sense to interpret what I say and judge whether it makes any sense or not. So do science fiction writers. DANGER: Failing to utilize common sense while reading science fiction may result in the birth of a new, completely ridiculous religion!!!