End of Course Reflection

As the semester comes to an end, I have been reflecting on what I have learned over the course of the past couple of weeks. For one thing, I have learned how difficult it is to balance work, school, and taking care of my little brother – ultimately giving me a great sense of respect for working parents who decide to go back to college. The overall intensity of this semester has been well worth it, however. When I first sat down in the classroom on May 11, I had no idea what to expect. I looked around the room and did not recognize any faces (an unsurprising situation since I transferred). The awkward silence was shortly broken by Noel, who easily transitioned us into a comfortable setting where we could laugh around and joke while simultaneously be discussing something important. For me, an atmosphere such as this is much more conducive to learning and growing as a student. I feel as if students do not feel the need to hold back a question or comment; the fear of what other’s will think of them is greatly diminished by a sense of camaraderie as a class. And that is exactly how I felt among my peers and professor in this course.

In regards to the course content, I was challenged in many ways that I have not been challenged before. For starters, I have never had to write a memo, white paper, make an infographic, and an audio essay. Literally every assignment was something new and I am so grateful to have had an opportunity to experiment with these forms or writing for the public. I felt that with each new assignment, I was being more and more challenged. The audio essay, for example, will be the most difficult assignment for me strictly because I have never made one before and want to do well. Overall, I hope to take all of the information that I learned from what we did in class and apply it to other courses and even potential future careers.

Spending the semester focusing on one main topic was difficult at times, yet I learned a great deal about an issue that I had previously known little about. I had heard about adjuncts earlier this year around National Adjunct Day, however the extent of my knowledge was very shallow. Discussion, readings, and research enlightened me in many ways and I have found myself discussing the adjunct crisis with my co-workers, friends, and family. Interestingly, my parents were unaware of the term “adjuncts” and had no idea what the job entails. Showing them my white paper and infographics helped shed some light on the growing adjunct issue and I am very proud of the work that I have done in this class. Doing my research and for for the assignments has reshaped the way that I think about college faculty and higher education. While I found myself frustrated about how things are at times, I also felt a great sense of admiration for adjuncts. Their hardwork and dedication goes without notice and it really is a shame. I hope that their pay grade and conditions improve in the years to come, allowing them to provide the skills and education that they are so capable of. Additionally, then college students will get the education that they are paying for since adjuncts would be able to dedicate their full time and attention to their classes.

I owe a great deal of thanks to Noel and my classmates for making me think in ways that I had not touched before. Hearing the perspectives and opinions of my peers pushed me to understand things outside of myself and my own beliefs.  The readings in general played an important role in doing just that, as did the blog posts.

Thank you all for your discussions and company over the past couple of weeks. I for one, learned a lot from you and Noel and found this course to be challenging in many ways, yet enjoyable. I hope that you have a great summer and maybe I’ll see you around campus sometime!

-Morgan Mihelic

Campos and Foster

(I did this last night and just went to see if anyone commented on it and saw that it never posted! After panicking and pressing a bunch of buttons I saw that it only saved my post as a draft even though I could have sworn I pressed Publish. Anyway, here it is…again.)

Interestingly, while I was doing my research for my memo and white paper, I had read the article written by Campos and utilized his information for my assignments. Rereading his writing helped refresh my memory about what he discusses – the real reason college tuition costs so much. It’s a question so many ponder and this New York Times snippet dives right on into the crux of it all, one of these reasons being the major increase in administration positions vs. the declining number of tenured professors being hired.

Foster’s article about what it’s like to be poor at an Ivy League school, however, was something completely new to me. For starters, I do not attend an Ivy League school and secondly, my family and the success of our family owned grocery stores in Pittsburgh has helped provide for us in many ways, including my college tuition. While my friends and I never made huge spring break plans (my plans every winter, spring, and summer break were to work), I still went out to eat with my college friends or go to a concert. I was always able to use some of the money I earned myself for fun activities, not solely for educational purposes.

Reading about how some students at Ivy League schools struggle with feeling accepted or comfortable on campus surrounded by well-off students really struck a chord with me. For some reason I always just associated Ivy League students as coming from very wealthy families and/or legacies. I was pleased to see that that is not necessarily the case. While a great majority of the student body is indeed, wealthy, there are more and more students able to attend these prestigious schools on a full scholarship.

Opportunities like this make me so happy for students from low-income families, such as Ana Barros but there is much more to the situation. In her article, Barros is described as having struggled with fitting in among her upper class peers. My college experience has been greatly shaped and influenced by my family’s financial stability and I realise that. At the College of Wooster, where I went to school before transferring to Pitt, I noticed a similar style of clothing that both men and women wore around campus. Interestingly, when I was a freshman there, I came home over spring break and went shopping for that same style of clothing in order to fit in and unsurprisingly, the attire wasn’t necessarily cheap. Someone like Ana Barros would probably not have been able to afford to go shopping for clothes just to fit in like I did (which is good in the long run because why buy new clothes just to be cool?! I’m kicking my silly freshman self just thinking about it).

College is expensive for so many reasons. There isn’t JUST tuition – there’s room and board, books and school supplies, fees, equipment and room materials, and the costs of travel if you commute. It can be really frustrating at times but reading this article made me really thankful. I also felt a wave of comfort knowing that low-income students are getting the opportunity to attend Ivy League schools. There is still a lot yet to do in terms of making these individuals feel more comfortable and welcome on campus but I think in the grand scheme of things, this is a great step.

The Psychology of Colors in Marketing Infographic – Morgan Mihelic

infographic

I really like this infographic image because it incorporates a lot of colorful images and is appealing to the eye. The image is not too busy and I appreciate the empty space, which gives the viewer room to breathe. Everything in this image is neatly spaced out and not overly crowded, which gives me as a viewer a sense of peace when examining it versus other infographics that I looked at, which were just overly busy. The fonts used here were appropriate with the colors and I liked how there were generally two or three fonts that were used in the same way throughout the piece. Additionally, the black images really stood out in contrast to the vibrant colors used.

Segran and Kenzior

Sarah Kendior’s article, “Zero Opportunity Employers,” begins by touching upon certain familiar points that we, as a class, have already examined through course readings and discussion. As a result, I must admit that I found myself slowly sliding into autopilot while reading the first page, thinking that this would be a piece very similar to the ones that we previously read. I was mistaken.

Kendzior goes above and beyond in her attempt to illustrate key points concerning adjunct exploitation. Almost immediately, Sarah begins with a discussion of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, successfully touching upon the common misconception that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech called for racial harmony alone. Admittedly, I fall among the many who solely associated King’s great speech with racial equality and so I found the following sentences very true: “They remember half of the targeted ‘twin evils’ of racism and economic deprivation,” and “They remember the freedom, and forget the jobs. But the two are inseparable.”

Additionally, Kenzior moved me through her powerfully articulated words as she exclaimed, “How far we have fallen today, when survival is sold as an aspiration to the poor. How facile our claims of ‘equal opportunity’ when the content of one’s character is eclipsed by the content of one’s wallet.” These two sentences were so incredibly profound to me, evoking strong and uncomfortable emotions as I began to feel overwhelmed by the whole situation at hand. Unfortunately, she is right. Because we live in such a money-driven society, generally one’s character is obscured by how much money one makes. While we may not mean to make such unfair assumptions, I feel as if it is somewhat ingrained in our way of thinking.

Kendzior’s writing not only informs the reader of countless statistics and information regarding institutionalized exploitation, but she also provides reasons why people justify poverty wages. I found her inclusion of these justified claims to be extremely beneficial for me as a reader, as it shed some light upon the reasoning (or fake reasoning, as Kendzior touches upon while explaining how companies often use a fake crisis to justify not paying people) behind systematic exploitation of working Americans.

Lastly, Kendzior’s mention of the “pink collar” professions greatly stood out to me since it is a term that I have never heard of prior to this evening. Yes, I’ve heard of “white collar” and “blue collar” jobs before, but never before had any pink collars been thrown into this wardrobe collection. Naturally, my eyes lit up and I immediately highlighted this paragraph which so eloquently illustrates the truth behind why “pink collar” jobs so often pay poorly.

All of the points touched upon in Sarah Kenzior’s article were skillfully articulated and provided readers with a lot of food for thought. I, for one, was left contemplating the significance of much of what she said and I’m sure her writing had a similar effect on my peers as well.


Elizabeth Segran’s article, “The Adjunct Revolt: How Poor Professors Are Fighting Back” was equally as well written and informative, but I feel as if she focuses more on contingent labor within higher educationOne part that stood out to me is when she quotes Jeffrey Selingo, the auther of College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students. He argues, “We moved away from a faculty-centric university to one focused on serving students. To attract students, universities need amenities to keep up in an arms race with other institutions.” We have touched upon this in class, noting how schools draw potential students in by showing off their new facilities, full equipped with shiny bells and whistles bound to attract anyone. I dealt with a similar situation while attending the College of Wooster in Ohio, when my Entrepreneurship department was moved into a cramped library room before being cut altogether – all of which was in order to help pay for the new solar-panelled sports and fitness center.

One questions I found myself wondering while reading Segran’s writing was, “How exactly does one acquire tenure?” This may be a silly question, but I never thought about any of these issues prior to this year. I wonder, did anyone else ponder a similar question at one point or another?