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Author Topic: Do you mind if I rant for a moment?
Raia
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I know I haven't really been posting much recently, but I have to get this out. I am SO frustrated right now.

Ok, so a rule was just passed by the assistant dean of the music school (and by just passed, I mean today at 3:34 pm). All students planning on pursuing a double-degree program (a music/liberal arts double major degree) have to now apply sometime during their second semester of their freshman year. By apply, I mean write a letter/essay, acquire a recommendation from our applied music teachers, and another recommendation from a teacher in another field.

In case you all don't realize, let me remind you. Second semester of freshman year ends in a little over two weeks (excluding finals). Not only that, but it has to be in BEFORE the end of second semester. But our lovely assistant dean has granted us a pardon, since this was decided so late -- current freshmen and sophomores interested in the program may turn in their applications by May 12th, 2006.

THAT'S TWO WEEKS FROM NOW!

So, on top of finals, juries, papers, presentations, piano proficiencies, projects, and the million-and-one other things that must be completed by the end of this semester, I now have two weeks to fill out an entire application and demand that my teachers write me letters of recommendation. My private voice teacher has approximately 20 students in her studio... SEVERAL, if not most, of whom are planning on pursuing a double degree. She now has to write somewhere between 10-20 letters of recommendation in the next two weeks, on top of all the work she's doing preparing everyone for juries, dealing with upperclassmen recitals, dealing with sophomore proficiencies, interviewing/auditioning new faculty members, and closing the year. Not to mention my poor other teachers who are going to get bombarded by EVERY PERSON IN THE MUSIC SCHOOL WANTING TO PURSUE THIS DOUBLE MAJOR, writing them to ask for letters.

Fun stuff.

Besides that, I got my schedule today, for next semester. I was cut out of Musicianship III (a freaking music class that is required for me to take 1st semester sophomore year -- this is not something I'm doing for fun, I need it to GRADUATE), as well as both my W course AND Music History. This means that I have 3 credits at the moment, for next semester, which is 0.5 of a credit under the minimum. That means that my scholarship is in grave danger of being reduced/taken away from me, because I'm failing to meet the required quota. I can't take musicianship the semester after, because it's not offered, only Musicianship IV, the second half of the class. And I can't take both a W and Music History together in the same semester if I want to survive. Especially as sophomore proficiencies are that semester, and that's enough to make people (daily) contemplate jumping off the top of the PAC.

Does this sound like a happy time yet?

When I called my dad to cry to him about it, he blew up at me, said I was completely destroying my college experience by constantly letting things get me down, and told me that if I spend less time crying and more time getting things done, I wouldn't be stressed. Um... what? Tell that to my freaking school. If they didn't spend so much time screwing me over, I could focus on getting things done, instead of trying to fix their mistakes.

!@#% you, DPU.

[Wall Bash]

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Miro
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Wow. That sounds like no fun at all. I'm sorry.
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Tante Shvester
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Perhaps you can help out your poor teacher by drafting your own letter of recommendation and email it to the teacher. The professor can just sign and submit it or tweak it.

I'd email something saying that you understand that they have a lot to do and must be inundated with letters of recommendation, so you have taken the liberty of drafting one and submitting it for her approval. Add that if she would rather not use it, that is understandable, but you were just trying to help out. Have your draft as an attachment.

Were I the professor, I'd appreciate it.

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Tresopax
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If I were the professor, I'd find that fairly unethical.
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Tante Shvester
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Why? The letter is sent to no one but the professor who can sign it as is, make changes, or chuck the whole thing. What is unethical about that?
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rivka
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Bad news, Tres. It's extremely common. And as Tante says, it's not [edit: UN!]ethical at all -- when students have given me letters like that, I have edited them as I saw fit.

Raia, I'm so sorry you have even MORE stress than when we were chatting the other night! [Frown]

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Amanecer
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Tresopax, I've had several professors ask that I at least write an outline for their letters of recommendation. They want to help you out and say what you need said, they just don't always know what that is. Doing what Tante suggests sounds perfectly ethical. If the professor doesn't like it, they're free to completely discard the draft. I would bet that most professors would appreciate having something basic from which they could elaborate.

Raia, that sounds no fun. [Frown]

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Orincoro
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Raia, from a fellow Music double major, I'll just tell you not to let this get you down. The problem with scheduling is really something you need to talk to an adviser about, as I am sure there is no way they would hang you out to dry if they knew you needed the class badly.

As a music student, in my third year as an undergrad and end of my second year as a music student, I have noticed that there are those students who take the classes, apply themselves, get through it and are fine. There is always a number of students however, who undergoe a long and continuous victimization in which the powers of the world conspire to make things awful for them, and everyone they know vicariously.

My advice is to realize that every bump in the road is not the world trying to throw you from your path. I can attest that the friends I have who can make this distinction, and not hold the university, or their teachers, or their friends accountable for their own miseries, are always much happier. I have friends who make shake my head in wonder, people who wine and moan and complain about the slightest difficulty, and then refuse to put the work in and surmount those obstacles. Don't be one of those people, it isn't worth it. I know you feel put upon, and I know its frustrating, but its also more work worrying about it than actually just doing it, no matter how galling. You'll be Ok.

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King of Men
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Well, really, how long can it take to fill out an application, anyway? It can't be any longer than the post you just wrote.
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Evie3217
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KOM, do you really have to be a poop every time? Sometimes it helps to get out a little frustration.

As for your Raia, I'm sorry for all the stress you're going through, and anything I can do to help, just let me know. Good luck though, you'll be fine.

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Beanny
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Cheer up, Raia. You know what they say.
Some things in school are bad,
They can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle,
Don't grumble, give a whistle!
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

Always look on the bright side of stress!

If school seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten!
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing, (Isnít this a music school???)

When you're feeling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps,
Just purse your lips and whistle -- that's the thing!
And... always look on the bright side of stress...

Not doubling your major is quite absurd,
And education's the final word.
You must always face the assignments with a bow!
Hand everything in ---- give the professer a grin,
Enjoy it -- it's not the last chance anyhow!

So always look on the bright side of stress!
Just before you draw your terminal breath.
Lazinessís a piece of shit,
When you look at it.

Ignorance is a laugh and homework's a joke, it's true,
You'll see it's all a show,
Keep 'em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last effort is for you!

And always look on the bright side of stress...

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Beanny
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And now, a normal post: I understand how tough it is on you, good luck! I'm sure you'll make it.
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Derrell
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(((Raia))) Hang in there.
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Tante Shvester
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Beanny, have YOU ever tried whistling with a mouthful of gristle? I don't think it's as easy as you make it out to be.
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zgator
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Do you have any recourse in stating that the rule was not in effect when you started school? When I was in school, whatever rules regarding classes, graduation requirements, etc. were in effect when you started were what you went by. They changed the number of hours required for my major in my junior year, but it didn't affect me.
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The Pixiest
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Tante: My lil bro and I useda eat crackers and see how fast we could whistle when we were done. I think we got the idea from TV...
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Raia
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No, zgator, it said specifically that current students are granted the reprieve of turning the stuff in by the 12th. Future students have to do it "sometime during second semester."
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Tresopax
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quote:
Bad news, Tres. It's extremely common. And as Tante says, it's not [edit: UN!]ethical at all -- when students have given me letters like that, I have edited them as I saw fit.
I know people do it. But just because plenty of people do something doesn't mean it is ethical.

A recommendation is, at least in theory, supposed to determine what your professor thinks of you - not what you think of you. If you are simply writing what you think of you and having the professor sign off on it, you are essentially lying to the people who you are sending this recommendation to, by presenting your own words as your professor's. It is not unlike having your parents write your college application essay for you, looking over it to see if it sounds good, and then sending it in as if you wrote it.

It is also unethical for the professor to sign off on it, as if it were his or her words, and not the applicant's. Yes, it makes things easy for the professor and they might prefer it that way for that reason, but that doesn't change the dishonesty of it. And if you ask a professor to sign off on something like that, you are asking them to be dishonest, with the implication that your future will be damaged if they don't. Obviously not all professors would see it this way, some wouldn't care, and others would just prefer not to write it themselves regardless - but this is how I would see it.

I think an outline or resume or a list of facts about you would be a good idea. They need something to work with, even if they know you well. But to actually write the thing for them is a bit too far.

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erosomniac
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quote:
But to actually write the thing for them is a bit too far.
I can see how if the professor just signed off on a pre-written letter without really reading it, it could be construed as unethical on the part of both parties.

If, however, the professor reads the letter carefully and wholeheartedly agrees with it, how is it unethical on either party's part? I suppose you could argue around suggestibility, but I'm really having trouble seeing how this is a dishonest thing to do.

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Tresopax
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The actual result will probably be somewhere between those two extreme cases, though. The professor will probably read the letter, change anything that he or she stands out in particular that should be added or subtracted, and then leave the rest to stand as it is if it sounds good enough. But "good enough" won't likely be what the professor would have written had he or she composed it. The result will be your words written about yourself (that the professor agrees with at least enough to mail it off) being presented as the professor's words about you.

It's possible that the people you are sending the application to only care that you get the signature, and don't care about the specifics - in which case the above doesn't matter. But if they actually care about getting a different perspective on you through the letter itself, they will be looking specifically for the things a professor might say about you that you would not.

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
Tante: My lil bro and I useda eat crackers and see how fast we could whistle when we were done. I think we got the idea from TV...

Wonderama?
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Stasia
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I don't think it's at all unethical to draft a letter of recommendation. Tons of professors ask you to do it when you ask them for letters of recommendation because they simply don't have time and don't know you well enough (even your major professor that you took 3 classes from) to craft a truly personal letter of recommendation. As long as they have the final say in what goes in the letter, it shouldn't matter who wrote the first draft.

Personally, if I were Raia asking a professor for a letter of recommendation...I would acknowledge that the professors are probably very busy and offer to draft the letter or compile a list of information about myself to help them out when writing the letter. I don't think I would draft the letter myself unless they specifically said that they wanted me to do that. Some teachers might think that presumptuous if they already have in mind what they want to say.

Good luck with all the stress. Try not to freak out about it and just get done as much as you can as well as you can.

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erosomniac
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quote:
The actual result will probably be somewhere between those two extreme cases, though. The professor will probably read the letter, change anything that he or she stands out in particular that should be added or subtracted, and then leave the rest to stand as it is if it sounds good enough. But "good enough" won't likely be what the professor would have written had he or she composed it. The result will be your words written about yourself (that the professor agrees with at least enough to mail it off) being presented as the professor's words about you.
I'm still not seeing what's dishonest here. Inaccurate and not ideal, perhaps, but dishonest? I still disagree.

quote:
It's possible that the people you are sending the application to only care that you get the signature, and don't care about the specifics - in which case the above doesn't matter. But if they actually care about getting a different perspective on you through the letter itself, they will be looking specifically for the things a professor might say about you that you would not.
I think this leaves responsibility in the laps of the person requesting the letter. Letters of recommendation typically include contact information and if an institution is genuinely interested in the quality of the information they're receiving, they are obviously able to contact the author of the letter directly. Many schools already take the initiative and do this.

Besides, there's a world of difference between someone who drafts a letter of recommendation for the professor's convenience and, say, someone who drafts a letter of recommendation that's purposely overinflated and puts it in front of a professor that they know will just sign off on it in order to falsify their qualifications.

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Raia
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Tres, I happen to agree with you... I would never feel comfortable writing a recommendation for myself, "from" one of my teachers.
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El JT de Spang
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I know plenty of people who have. And neither I nor them considered it at all unethical. I think Tres is reaching for straws. Imagine my surprise.
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Kwea
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However, don't look at it that way, try it like this....

Some programs/classes require specific things to be said in order to qualify for specific results. If the teacher doesn't know what the requirements are then they might not make a comment that is necessary. Not because they don't think you should qualify, but out of ignorance or oversight.

Sort of like a doctor's note for a job....some employers are VERY specific about how the doctor's note MUST be phrased in order to excuse someone from work, but if the doctor writing the note doesn't KNOW that then half the time (at least!) the note won't say the correct thing, and the worker gets in trouble.


However, if the patient shows/tells the doctor EXACTLY what is needed, then the doctor knows what to put on the note....not to lie, but what the requirements are for that employer. If the patient doesn't require "light duty", then the doctor doesn't put that down, if he does, the doctor now know the correct phrasing.

Most of the time they are happy to know, in my experience.


This is like that, with the same issues raised. The teacher still has the right to put whatever they want down...but if you give them an outline of what you need the letter to say in order to qualify for a double major then a simple mistake on their part won't adversely affect your future. They still get to decide IF you qualify for it in their opinion....which is really what this whole thing is about, isn't it?


As long as the teacher has the OPTION of using some or all of your suggestions it is fine, IMO.

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Jimbo the Clown
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I'd offer to help, but this doesn't sound like something duct tape would fix. I'm useless. *cries*
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Beanny
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Seeing a clown cry always makes us happy.... [Smile]
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Abhi
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Raia, I don't know much about how the music school works, but the liberal arts college's professors are very helpful about stuff like this. Have you tried just talking to professors whose classes you need to get into? They can give you the SPAC to let you in despite the class being full... And which W class are you trying to get into? The best way to go about getting into a course is to either have a good relation with the prof, or to ask a student who does to intercede on your behalf. If it's in a department I know, or a friend does, maybe I could help... and if you don't know a prof in the liberal arts college, I know profs who will be willing to write a rec if you sit down and talk with them for awhile about your double major plans and academic interests...

Seriously, email or ask your upperlevel friends if you're running into admin problems. We've all been through it before and know the tricks.

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Raia
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Abhi! Welcome to Hatrack! [Smile]

Yeah, I'm working on fixing these problems now... I think the music history teacher may be able to give me a SPAC. I'm still dealing with it. And I've e-mailed teachers about recommendations, too.

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Jhai
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heh... actually, that was me posting from his laptop. Abhi never gives this good advice. [Smile] [Wink]
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Raia
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Haha, well, I still didn't know that he was registered! [Razz]

But thanks to you, instead!

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