Posts in the Musings of a Middle-Aged College Student series have been pretty well structured, so I thought now would be a good time to throw down some random bits of knowledge or advice.
I Know Your Email Address
Okay, not really, but I can guess it with startling accuracy. The school uses a frankly astonishing system: <firstname.lastname[Number]@snhu.edu>
Right? Current students, you know what I'm talking about. Log into a class in Brightspace, then navigate to Tools > Classlist. Look at the email addresses. First name, last name, optional number, @snhu.edu. A student named Jane Smith would have an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. They're not even large numbers; I suspect they're incremented values. “email@example.com” is likely the seventh Malcolm Reynolds to enroll.
And look, I'm not spilling any beans here. I'm not tipping off hackers or scammers. The hackers and scammers already know. I frequently read comments from students complaining that some company or other (or SNHU itself!) is selling student email addresses. Perhaps. But more likely, the bad guys have figured that that firstname.lastname@example.org will reach a real person.
Hey, Is This Email a Scam?
For as obvious as the school's email assignment system is, it's surprisingly light on spam. I'm coming up on a year with my school email address, and I get two or three emails a month that aren't on the level. They're about what you'd expect—poorly written, obviously not from the school or another reputable concern.
In the SNHU Facebook groups, there are occasional posts from people asking if an email from one honor society or another is a scam. It might be, but not for the reasons some might think.
So, About Facebook Groups
They're not run, organized, approved, or monitored by the school.
It's entirely possible some instructors are lurking in there, but honestly? Who cares? The same advice for social media in general applies to the student Facebook groups in particular: don't say anything you don't want someone to hear. They might be labeled “private,” but in practice, there is nothing stopping anything you say from getting out into the world.
Don't badmouth a professor until you've finished the class, if then. Students are sent a survey at the end of each term. Use it. Complain about a professor in a meaningful way.
And Those Honor Societies?
I'm planning to publish, a few weeks from now, a blog post specifically about the one I joined. Some honor societies are reputable; others aren't. The email invitations aren't themselves scams, and I do not believe that many of the honor societies themselves are scams, but your mileage may vary.
Research, research, research. You will find that like a lot of things, most honor societies are worth exactly what you put into them. A student who pays the induction fee but then never participates, applies for available scholarships, utilizes the organization's discounts, or makes any move at all to get anything out of the experience will undoubtedly feel like it was a scam.
Let's back up a bit. What was that about badmouthing professors? Oh, right, don't do it. And I don't mean just where the professor might see it and get upset and tank your grade. I mean, at all, unless you are really, really sure of yourself.
Because here's the hard truth: as likely as it is that the professor is the problem, it's equally likely that the student is the problem.
More often than not, and I mean way more often than not, the student deserves the received grade. Students complaining about their instructors? That's nothing new. Plato probably complained about Socrates on whatever version of Facebook they had back then.
The school has processes for students who suspect a professor is mistreating them. Every student has an advisor. That's step one. If the advisor cannot resolve the situation the student's satisfaction, there is an entire chain of people to work through. Nowhere in that chain is Facebook or the court of public opinion. That should be a last resort.
Instructors have until Sunday night to grade the previous week's assignments. I turned in my Week Five assignment for ENG-329 two days ago, June 2nd (a Tuesday—go, me). It's due on Sunday, June 7th. My professor has until June 14th to grade and return the assignment.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that professors wait until Sunday to grade papers. That is, for most classes, a cosmic impossibility. There aren't enough hours in a single day for a professor to grade 25–30 papers, each 6–8 pages in length. And that's not even considering that many of these professors teach more than one class—sometimes at more than one school.
Speaking of More than One School
Check out Sophia.org. They are affiliated with SNHU, and they are running a special through the end of July: free classes. Even when they're not free, they're dirt cheap. Now, I love SNHU. It's been great for me. That doesn't mean I want to spend a grand on a public speaking course (COM-212). I took that course at Sophia, finished it in a few weeks, and the credit transferred to SNHU.
The only downside, and I recognize this may be an upside for some people, is that courses transferred from Sophia to SNHU do not affect the GPA at SNHU. My public speaking course knocked out my COM-212 requirement, but it's considered pass/fail and does not help (or hurt) my GPA.
Nobody will complete a degree just by taking Sophia classes, but it's a great resource for knocking out a low-level class that you don't want to spend eight weeks and a thousand dollars on.
Unrelated: The bits in the image accompanying this post are Torx, or star-drive, bits. Anything is better than a flat-head screw, Philips screws are decent, but Torx is terrific. They never slip.