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Another rant repeatedly ruined

I was all set to rant about the Grinnell Career Connections program [1], but then reality got in the way. Here’s the story.

If you didn’t know, the Grinnell Career Connections program is a new initiative at the Office of Careers, Life, and Service. Rather than using the traditional model of having a graduate school counselor, a few internship counselors, and so on and so forth, they are creating communities that focus on particular groups of careers. Hence, the same person who talks to a student about internships can also talk to them about post-graduation options. In addition, students can form a kind of community, working with each other to better understand various opportunities and to help each other prepare.

Why would I rant about such a wonderful idea?

I would not rant about the general concept. It’s a pretty good one. I appreciate that the folks in CLS are thinking actively on how best to support our students and came up with some great approaches to doing so [2].

But I was tempted to rant about some details. What details, you may ask? Let’s start with the list of communities:

Arts, Media, & Communications [3]; Business & Finance [4]; Education Professions [5]; Government & Social Service; Health Professions; Law; and STEM [6].

What’s wrong with this list? Well, end-note one should be a clue. Here’s another problem: the sciences are quite vast. The support a CS or Math major who is planning on a quantitative position needs is very different from what a Biology major who plans on a lab job needs. I’d expect that these fields are much further apart than, say, Law and Government. In addition, 45% of Grinnell majors are in the sciences [8], so one might hope that 45% of the communities would be related to the sciences, which would suggest that we should have three STEM-communities, rather than two. Given that 1/7 of all majors are in CS or Math, we should probably separate the STEM community into a Science Community and a CS/Math [11] community [12].

But the communities were decided, in large part, by what people were willing to donate to. Daniel ’77 and Patricia ’80 Finkelman Dean [14] Mark Peltz and members of DAR [17] spent endless hours talking with donors across the country about these communities, and the donations he raised shaped the choice of communities. As I understand it, we expect the set of communities to evolve over the years. So I really shouldn’t complain.

I also shouldn’t complain about the budget allocated to each community. Again, it’s not like we had one magic pot of money to distribute among the communities based, say, on the number of students in each community. Rather, the budgets are based on donations raised, along with some more adjustable funds.

So there we have it. We have a cool new initiative. I don’t particularly like some of the details, but CLS [18] doesn’t have control over many of those details. I was so looking forward to ranting, but I’ll have to leave it at that. I don’t even feel comfortable ranting about the lack of public information about the new communities on the Web site, since I know that putting stuff together takes time.

I look forward to seeing what happens with the communities over the next few years. And I applaud the folks at CLS for coming up with the big picture idea.

I’m worried that I will lose my curmudgeon badge [19].


I hadn’t intended to rant, but my readers suggested that I did. They also pointed out a larger-than-normal number of instances in which I was even less thoughtful than I usually am, if such a thing is possible. Let’s see … I conflated major with career. I failed to acknowledge the contributions of DAR. I’ve forgotten the rest. I’ve attempted to address those criticisms [20,21].

But I really should have said to myself: Sam, you know that the rant is wrong. Don’t even attempt to write anything. Too late now.

[1] I’d link to the part of the Grinnell site that discusses the program, but there isn’t one.

[2] There are many others. The new Tutorial CLS advisor is one of my favorites.

[3] A.k.a., Let’s shove all of the humanities disciplines into a single community.

[4] I thought this was going to be an endnote in which I wrote, Thank you, Patricia Jipp ’80 and Dan ’77 Finkelman. But it turns out that I should write, Thank you, Penny Bender Sebring ’64 and Charles Lewis.

[5] Thank you, Penny Bender Sebring ’64 and Charles Lewis.

[6] Science, Technology, that subject we don’t do at Grinnell [7], and Mathematics.

[7] Engineering.

[8] Here are my calculations, based on the class of 2018. There are 386 students who have 505 majors between them [9] 233 of those majors (46%) are in STEM fields. I’m too lazy to count the percent of the 386 students who have majors in the sciences.

[9] 119 students or about 30% of students seem to have two majors [10].

[10] As far as I know, there are no triple majors in the class of 2018. The only triple major I know of graduated last year.

[11] TEM?

[12] My readers have pointed out that most students’ majors don’t necessarily correspond to their chosen career path. I agree. It’s also a good thing. But I expect that a similar percentage are thinking of careers in STeM fields.

[14] Finkeldean? Maybe [15].

[15] Someone who knows the Patricia and Dan suggested that they might enjoy hearing that term. I hope it doesn’t get me in trouble. Fortunately, Patricia and Dan know how much I appreciate all that they do for the College [16].

[16] That comment is perfectly serious. I had the good fortune to have a day-long retreat with a small group that included both of them, and both are clearly passionate about Grinnell. I also appreciate the ways in which they invest their time and money in the College.

[17] Development and Alumni Relations. Not Daughters of the American Revolution. Not Youngest Son Rebelsky.

[18] Careers, Life, and Service.

[19] Communications has already told me that I can’t get a new one. Sniff.

[20] Well, not the you’ve ranted anyway criticism. Some aspect of the original musing needs to stand.

[21] I was going to write I’ve done my best to address those criticisms. However, if that’s the case, my best is pretty damn bad. My best would require significant rewrites and, as I suggested in the previous endnote, some aspects of the musing should stand, even if they are misguided.

Version 1.3 of 2017-08-15.