Bad First Impression

Recently I agreed to allow a high school senior who is coming to SMG next fall to sit in on a class.  The visit was arranged through our Undergraduate Program Office as part of our recruitment of admitted students. I’ve hosted many such students eager, or mildly curious, to experience a college class.  This student asked if his friend, visiting CAS on a similar trip, could attend as well.  I said of course.  I greeted him by name before class, introduced myself to her, and directed them to seats in the back row.  They sat, and then they cuddled.  Inappropriate, but not serious, and they separated as class began.  Five minutes later I looked in their direction.  She was bent over her phone, thumbs flying on the keyboard.  I directed to the boy what I intended to be a meaningful look–it’s meaning was “tell your girlfriend to put down the damn phone!”–but my message didn’t register. I continued with class, asking questions to generate discussion, shooting more looks his way.  No response.  A few minutes later I again looked their way.  Now he was bent over his phone, thumbs flying on the keyboard.  I stopped talking.  I stared at them.  Silence.  I said “the two of you–stop playing  with your phones!”  All eyes turned in their direction.  They looked up, stored their phones, but did not apologize.  They say woodenly for another 15 minutes, then got up and left.

Breathtakingly rude.  If only I had the power to revoke admission.

3 Replies to “Bad First Impression”

  1. Anand Brahmbhatt

    I think this generation [my generation] has different priorities. Technology is too readily available and for whatever reason people are addicted to texting. Seriously, even my dad. My dad, moved to America from India when he was about 22, is an intense text-er now. I get a "GM" for good morning, usually followed by a "WHATS HAPPENING?" every two hours. It's cool, in some ways. Text-ing is just too easy, and especially for kids my age and so some don't have that kind of self-control unless they know not to do something. I guarantee if they're in your class in two years, they won't be texting. It's just a matter of learning from experience, and maybe these individuals don't have teachers in HS who are intensely against texting so they think in college it'd be the same. It's also the element of not having respect for someone you might not see again, especially the girl.

  2. Diana Lau

    I really don't understand why students can't put their phone away for a mere hour. I doubt there they are receiving news that is life-changing.
    The same thing happened in my English class in high school. After the incident, you could tell that he strongly disliked the girl after he told her two times to put her phone away. And what do you know, he ended up not recommending her for next year's AP English class.

  3. Alex Gershen

    Wow. Kids these days!

    I sat in a Criminal Law class at George Washington once. It was remarkable. From the back row I could see nearly ever laptop was logged on Gmail and everyone was Gchatting each other in-class. The professor was fun and engaging and as Socratic as they come. When one person was called on, you could see the Gchat messages flashing on their screen. Now with a year of law school under my belt I realized, these messages are his classmates trying to bail their friend out with the answer to the professors question. It was pretty neat to see how IM technology is helping save law students from the embarrassment and learning experience of being unprepared.

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