OT: Part Time Student

on May 21, 2013 in Other Tales


Mariel raised her right hand… the upper one… and prepared to knock on the door. She stopped herself at the last quarter-second to compose herself. Taking a little time was an important part of keeping things moving at the right speed. She didn’t know why George Harmon had asked her to come see him when she had a chance, and that made her nervous. There had been no explanation in his a-mail, no hint of what had prompted it, and if anyone else had been summoned unexpectedly to their academic advisors’ offices, they weren’t saying anything about it.

When she was sure she had everything under control, she very carefully and very precisely knocked, inserting a suitably long pause in between each rap.

“Come on in, it’s open!” he said.

“Professor Harmon?” she said, opening the door no more than was necessary for her to slip her frame through, which wasn’t much.

“Miss Mariel! I’m so glad you had time to come see me,” he said. “Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you,” she said. The chair was pushed in close to his desk. It would have been awkward for her to try to pull it out, so instead she vaulted the armrest and settled into it. Sylphs didn’t exactly fly, but they were known to flit.

“Last year, you were enrolled as a traditional full-time student,” he said. “And as far as I remember from our last meeting, you weren’t looking to change that. But this year, you’ve scaled back to half the credit hours and you’re living off campus. I know you struggled in your first semester last year, but your grades were excellent by the end of the year and the last time we met I had the impression you were thriving.”

“Yes, mmm hmm,” Mariel said, nodding enthusiastically. “That’s right. I had a 4.0 for the semester and I was pretty proud of that. It’s like you said I just needed to cut out distractions and apply myself.”

“So…” the adviser said.

“So?” Mariel repeated.

“I guess I’m just wondering what’s wrong.”

“I don’t know. Is something wrong?” Mariel said, her voice rising in pitch and speed as her nervousness overtook her. “From my point of view everything’s been going great. I was so super worried when you asked me to come see you but if you don’t know what’s wrong and I don’t know what’s wrong then why are we thinking that something’s gone wrong?”

“Because a promising student doesn’t usually revert to part-time status unless something has happened,” he said, wincing as Mariel smirked and possibly… just possibly… let out a very quick laugh at something. “If you’re struggling with tuition, we do have financial aid packages that you could qualify for… I’m sorry, is this funny to you?”

“Parts of it are?” she said. “It’s just ‘part time’. That’s funny to me because it’s kind of extra-accurate. I don’t know if you know anything about sylphs…”

“I don’t think of you as a sylph, I think of you as a student,” he said.

“Yeah well this student is a sylph,” Mariel said. “And sylphs live faster than you do. We think faster we see faster we hear faster we talk faster. And most important for this topic we learn faster. A week to me is like a month if I understand it right. A season is a year. None of my friends understood why I wanted to come here and learn things ‘the long way’ but I was sure that there were things I could learn from a university I couldn’t learn in an apprenticeship from another sylph.”

“I remember you told me that, and I agree,” he said. “I absolutely agree… and I hope you haven’t changed your mind about that.”

“Oh I haven’t!” Mariel said. “I mean I’m here aren’t I? But after spending so many months to get just a fraction of my education and having to deal with everything at one-quarter speed I started to see everyone else’s point too. Life here is just so slow. And four years for an education? And I realized that it wasn’t home I needed to get away from but people I mean specific people who weren’t good for me and those kinds of people can turn up anywhere. So I don’t want to spend the next three years of my life like I did the last one.”

“But, Miss Mariel, going about it this way, it will only take longer,” he said. “If you want to graduate in less than three years, I think you’ve got a good chance of it. Especially given your… abilities… that you’ve described, which sounds like they would allow for a larger course load.”

“Except they don’t?” she said. “I mean just because I can cram an hour into fifteen minutes doesn’t mean I can be at four places at once during that hour. It means I’m sitting there in one class getting the same amount of information as everyone else but I’m sitting there for four times as long. You see me taking half the normal load of classes but from where I’m sitting I’m still spending twice as much time in class as everyone else. I came back because there are still things that I want to learn that I can’t get anywhere else but I also spent my summer break getting a traditional education instead.”

“…a university education is a traditional education.”

“I mean traditional for me,” she said. “There doesn’t seem to be any way to get most of it transferred or recognized by the university? I mean I might be able to test out of some courses for prerequisites but there isn’t a lot of that in the style track of glamour and design so I was kind of hoping later on to talk to someone about getting my other training recognized somehow?”

“We might be able to have that discussion, but if apprenticeship were a substitute for a university education we wouldn’t have universities,” he said.

“I always thought it was because of efficiency?” she said. “I mean it’s easier to find one teacher for dozens of students then it is to find dozens of masters but aren’t smaller class sizes and hands-on experience preferred even in the university? And aren’t professors expected to keep their information and skills current? That’s what an apprenticeship is I mean it’s a class with no more than half a dozen people at the very most and it’s all hands-on experience by someone who’s been doing continuing education every day of their lives.”

“We can debate this some other time,” he said. “The fact is that a couple of months of apprenticeship couldn’t count for more than a couple of credit hours, and even with that this approach is going to make it take that much longer to get your degree.”

“Oh!” Mariel said. “Oh okay I understand now. I see where you’re coming from.”

“I thought you would,” he said. “You are a bright young woman.”

“You think I’m still going for a degree,” she said. “Oh man sorry I don’t mean to laugh again but suddenly this conversation makes a lot more sense. Sorry maybe I should have told you that my plans have changed? I don’t know it probably seems all very sudden and impulsive to you but I had a lot of time to think about it.”

“That may be so, but I am your academic adviser, and it would make sense to discuss these things with me so I can give you my advice before making any decisions that will have as big an impact on your future,” he said. “The good news is that one semester won’t have much impact, especially if we can get your apprenticeship recognized… there are some programs we can…”

“Sorry I hate to interrupt I mean that was the one thing that was drilled into me about interacting with other races but I have to ask… impact on what?”

“Impact on your ability to graduate on time,” he said.

“But I just told you that I don’t want my degree?” she said. “I did a what-do-you-call-it a cost/benefit analysis on spending four whole years of my life working at a human’s pace towards it and decided it’s not worth it. So I’m coming back to learn what I can’t learn any other way and I’m getting a traditional education at the same time well not at the same time but in between and when I’ve learned everything I need to know I’ll be done though I might come back and take new classes that catch my eye or to keep my skills up.”

“But a degree can open doors!”

“So can a good portfolio and work experience and I’m building those things and if it comes down to having a piece of paper I can go to one of those schools that gives a certificate in a lot less time,” she said. “And no I’m not saying that’s the same as a university education or I’d just go to them in the first place but if I need something to get me through a door so I can show off what I learned here then I’ll have it.”

“You’ve clearly given this a lot of thought, but it’s just as clear that thought is no substitute for wisdom,” he said. “A certificate from some twelve-week course in a strip mall beauty school can’t possibly be compared to a degree from a university of Magisterius University’s stature.”

“I wasn’t comparing them?” she said. “Except in the sense that one takes twelve weeks and the other takes four years. I’m not saying the degree isn’t better but it’s not worth the cost to me in time and energy. I don’t understand what the point of this conversation is. When we first met which was a long time ago for me I asked you what an academic advisor did and you said it was your job to help me understand how to reach my educational goals. Well I’m telling you what my goals are and it seems like you’re trying to talk me out of them.”

“The reason academic advisors exist is because a traditional university student has at most three and a half years of experience with the university system whenever he or she makes choices relating to the educational career,” he said. “Which makes it very easy for one to fall prey to errors of thinking or make mistakes that could be costly in the long run. It’s my job to prevent you from making that mistake.”

“I am telling you if I try to do six more semesters like the last two I will not just drop out I will burn out,” she said. “Imagine your college experience lasted four times as long and you didn’t get anything more out of it. Imagine every class was four times longer and the teacher spoke four times slower.”

“But there must be trade-offs!” he said. “You must be able to complete reading four times as fast.”

“Yes but from my point of view I’m not getting it done any faster I just have more empty hours between the agony of sitting through classes,” Mariel said. “That and I’ve always learned better from watching and doing than reading.”

“So we just need to come up with an approach that’s tailored to that,” he said.

“But I did that?” Mariel said. “If you want to help you can maybe help me figure out which classes are going to give me the most practical knowledge and which ones are just like there to pad things out?”

“Hang on a second,” he said.

“I hang on every second when I’m talking to you,” she said. “No offense.”

“What I mean is, I don’t think I could in good conscience help you try to plan your way around the kind of robust liberal arts education that a university offers,” he said. “If all you want is practical knowledge you might as well just go to beauty school or a community college.”

“So that’s your advice? Go to community college?”

“No!” he said. “Absolutely not!”

“Professor Harmon… I need to ask you a question,” she said, slowing herself down even more to make sure she didn’t say something she regretted.

“Please!”

“Are you on my side?” she asked. “I mean… when you’re advising me, are you for me, or are you for the school? Because I feel like I’m talking to a salesman who has a product he’s sure is wonderful for a thousand and one household uses and I’m not sure he understands that my household is just… different.”

“Miss Mariel… of course I’m on your side,” he said. “I’m your advocate and your counselor. I represent the university, yes, but when we’re in here as advisor and student, my only goal is to help you.”

“Do you ever advise anyone that they should go to community college?”

“Sometimes… sometimes it happens that students are just not right for the university, or the university isn’t right for them,” he said. “Sometimes a student’s academic record is in shambles and multiple corrective courses of action have failed to yield significant improvement. Sometimes it really is for the best.”

“So I should wait until my grades fall and my record’s in shambles before I do this?”

“You shouldn’t be so pessimistic,” he said. “It’s not just because you pulled your grade up so much that I think you belong here. You have such a rare combination of gifts: an eye for style, a unique flair, a strong magical talent! Why waste your potential? The first year is always the roughest, but you can’t decide on the basis of…”

“Four years,” she said. “It was four years for me professor and even though I was doing better by the end it was harder by the end so much harder.”

“Well, if we’re going to split hairs, it would be eight semesters,” he said. “Which isn’t the same as four calendar years, and that’s even assuming the exchange rate is exact… anyway, this is all a tangent, isn’t it? You asked me what my advice would be, and it’s to not assume that all the classes on our curriculum are pointless.”

“I’m not,” she said. “I’m asking you to help me figure out which ones would have the most point for me. And I get the whole varied education thing. Honestly some of my non-major classes last year were some of my favorite and I want to audit a few more. I mean I don’t think I need to go for a grade in them since they’re not going to be leading anywhere. I mean they won’t lead nowhere but not to a degree.”

“You’re asking me to rate our classes for relevance?”

“Isn’t that what you do?” she said. “If you knew my goal was to graduate with a Bachelor of Skill in Glamour and Design you would tell me if you thought my classes would help me reach that goal. Well if I tell you I have a different goal why can’t you do the same? Like you said you know better than I do. All I have is a course catalogue and word of mouth.”

“Miss Mariel… one of the functions, the most important function, of an academic advisor, is to help a student chart a course to graduation,” he said. “But you’re telling me that you have no interest in graduation, so I don’t know what to say to you.”

“Then maybe you should take some time to think about it?” she said.

“Maybe I will… if you promise to think about what I’ve said,” he said.

“I don’t think you understand how much I’ve already thought about this,” she said. “Anyway if I get out into the world and change my mind I can always start my career and take night classes to finish my degree since I’ll have a lot of the important stuff done?”

“Yes, but who knows where you’ll be at that point?” he said. “It might not be convenient for you to come back here to finish up.”

“So that’s it,” she said. “You are selling a product.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You’re not trying to get me to graduate on schedule. You’re trying to make sure I buy another three years’ worth of classes.”

“You’re assigning me a motive that doesn’t exist,” he said. “I think Magisterius University will benefit you more than another institution would. I only have your interests at heart.”

“Well you promise to think about what my interests are and contact me if you think of anything that will help them,” Mariel said. “But if we just keep flitting around in circles you’re more likely to lose me as a customer so… I should leave?”

“I hope you’ll consider what I’ve said.”

“If I say I promise I will, do you promise to not do the thing where you check it off in your head like it’s a done deal and the next time we meet you act like I agreed with you because I hate it hate it hateithateithateit when people do that,” Mariel said.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that?”

“Excuse me, I sneezed,” Mariel said. “My mind is pretty well made up.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. He got to his feet an extended a hand across the desk. “But my door is always open to you if you want more advice.”

“Why bother when I know what it’ll be?” Mariel said. “I’d thank you for your time but mine is literally more valuable than yours.”

“Gesundheit!”


Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!


Characters: ,





40 Responses to “OT: Part Time Student”

  1. Just a word of upfront warning: I’m going to be taking Memorial Day (next Monday, the 27th) off. So I’m not going to be pushing the bonus story total at all in the next week… if it gets over $100 this week, the story will go up the following Monday. It’s not that I couldn’t use the money, but right now time is equally scarce. Thank you!

    Current score: 0
  2. Burnsidhe says:

    “Academic advisers.” No offense to any who might be reading this story, but really… I empathize strongly with Mariel’s view on this.

    Though it’s less about ‘selling’ the university courses, than it is about being so immersed in academia that they forget the purpose of a degree is to get a job, and that a lot of the courses don’t work towards that.

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Having an adviser that is immersed in anything relevant is a step up. I found myself unable to relate to the situation here, since all the advisers I have interacted with have had little to no knowledge of the curriculum, classes, or purpose of their position. I would get more out of automatic schedule producing computer, than any of them. So one that could even be competent enough to sell me something would be a step up (I would assume).

      I do wonder, what experiences the rest of you have had with academic advisement? Mariel (and by extension the author?) experienced a sales approach, I have found them to simply be incompetent (and we didn’t really do assigned advisers, so I met many of them).

      What about the rest of you?

      Current score: 0
      • Cadnawes says:

        I was lucky. At my school, they assigned you a faculty adviser relevant to your supposed major. By the end of freshman year you were supposed to have found another professor with whom you got along to advise you. They could say no. You had to understand eachother before you could even set out on the relationship. If you were double majoring, you had to have one for each major and you should try to speak to each of them once a semester.

        I was art education k-12 with an emphasis in medieval technique, and an art history minor. So I had to have three. To be a teacher, there are a lot of very specific and goofy requirements so my education adviser made sure I could schedule those when they were offered. My art history adviser didn’t have to do much. I only took that on when I realized I had enough classes to tack that on anyway. But I did go to her house for a masked twelfth night party.

        My art adviser was special. He became almost my apprenticeship master. I took any classes he offered that I could justify, and he spent a lot of time with me teaching me stuff I wanted to know that there wasn’t a class for. Oddly, when I graduated, he told me that I was a wonderful teacher, and then begged me not to go through with it. He’d been able to see my temperament, and in my last year he got a good look at how the educational system deals with oddballs, and suggested that it was in my best interests to plot my own course, do my own art, take on one or two apprentices if I really wanted to teach.

        Damn if he wasn’t the rightest anybody has ever been. He died a couple years ago. We had stayed in touch but less than we should have. It was my fault. The painting I made to thank him hung in his office literally til the day he died. (His weird private school nun caught him drawing an angel with feet in his notebook, and he had to write “Angels do not have feet” a thousand times on the blackboard. So I painted him an angel with feet, and breasts, and the barest suggestion of points in between. He thought it was the funniest thing ever.)

        Anyway I hear tons of stories like Mariel’s and like yours, zeel. I feel like sometimes I’m the luckiest person ever.

        Current score: 0
      • Eliska says:

        I…didn’t really have academic advisement. My main goal was to get out quickly, and I only met with my advisor when I absolutely had to, as I’d already planned out my own course of study. My department was a relatively small one within my university (300-ish students at any one time), so we were all assigned to one of two people who were primarily professors, not advisors, with whom we had to meet before we’d be given a code to sign up for classes the next semester. I remember those meetings taking no more than five to ten minutes, and consisting of me saying effectively, “I’d like to take these classes next semester; I’ve already taken these, and I have these credits outside the department towards my graduation requirements. Please give me my code and let me go back to not socializing with anyone.” As my advisor was overworked and not really trained to be an advisor, he didn’t offer any advice or anything other than, “That sounds nice. Here’s your code. See you next semester.” The year I graduated, they realized that this wasn’t working very well, and split up the advisement duties among all the tenured professors in the department, so that the students would get more time and personal attention.

        In retrospect, my degree is functionally useless without further education (Bachelor’s in linguistics), so I probably should have spent more time talking with my professors about career paths and how on earth to use this subject that I found so fascinating to pay my bills.

        Current score: 0
        • Julian Morrison says:

          Try constructing an economic niche for yourself as hired gun conlang wrangler for the many things nowadays that bother to have a proper language (games, movies, authors writing fantasy novels, etc). Approach games companies, etc. “Dear whom it may concern, I am a trained linguist and am capable of producing fictional languages that sound realistic and fluid, which would enhance the artistic experience of your games and draw in nerd attention and present opportunities for marketing spin-offs, do we have a deal?”

          Current score: 1
      • Riva says:

        I went to a very unusual college for a while, where basically everyone was designing their own majors. As such, there was a lot more emphasis on advising than seems to be normal. You had to do the fifteen minute meeting on what you were taking next semester, and starting in your third semester that was with two professors instead of one. You chose both professors, at least one because they were doing things that were relevant to what you were doing. The second one could be also doing that, or could just be someone you got along with. All professors did advising, which involved going through big portfolios of student work at various points in the degree-earning process.

        Unfortunately, the self-directed thing didn’t work for me very well, so at every meeting with my advisers, I would be so anxious I’d be unable to get much in the way of wisdom out of the process. I was too busy desperately pretending to know what I was doing to let them help me figure out what I was doing. By the point at which I dropped out of that school, meetings with my committee were guaranteed to cause dissociative episodes.

        At my current school, you’re assigned an adviser who’s a professor in your major with whom you’re expected to meet once a semester to plan out your schedule for the next semester plus all your remaining semesters. I like the one I’m assigned. She schedules meetings for half an hour and they tend to run over. I’m not terrified to meet with her, which is nice, but I think a lot of what changed for me is just that a ‘traditional’ liberal arts college education seems so much lower stakes than what I was doing before.

        So, let it be noted: experimental programs that let you follow your dreams can be really bad. People talk about going to a school without grades or tests like it’s the holy grail sometimes. Imagine if all you had to go on to determine whether you were working hard enough were your own opinion and short written statements from people you looked up to. To me? Because of my mental health stuff, I tend to think that others think the worst of me. Having no way to confirm or deny that is AWFUL.

        Current score: 0
      • Anvildude says:

        My first University, I was assigned an adviser who’d gone to school during a period in the sixties where they apparently didn’t do “Grades”- everything was pass-fail. So when I started struggling, I don’t think they really realized that there were issues there. It’s better, whether you’re assigned an advisor or not, to find a professor who you get along with who works in your chosen field, and stick to them like glue.

        Also, take advantage of peer mentoring systems- they seem silly, but college-level mentoring is amazing.

        Current score: 0
      • Hollowgolem says:

        I was good at finding necessary courses, dealing with breadth requirements (I went to a smaller liberal arts college), and organizing my schedule.

        When I showed up to have my advisor sign off, he’d look at it, nod, say it looked good, and then we’d just talk about things for the next half hour (as long as nobody was at his door).

        He said I helped alleviate the boredom of some of his office hours. And he was genuinely interesting to converse with. We still keep in touch, actually.

        Current score: 0
    • Ducky says:

      I had two advisers, because I came into college undeclared. They assigned me one of their Honors Program advisers and shoved me in a meeting with her.

      Now, the only reason I went into college undeclared is because if I had declared “Theatre Arts” immediately, my mother would have had a fit. So when I met with the adviser, I said, “let’s get me into some intro-level theater classes so I don’t fall behind.” She said, “Great! Take these lib ed courses and you’ll be right on track!” So my first semester, I took some absolutely bullshit “intro-to-college” courses. None of them were in theater, even though the Intro to Theater class covers three lib eds and is “writing intensive” (a requirement at my university). I skipped our meeting the next semester and signed myself up for five truly awesome classes that covered seven requirements.

      That adviser subsequently disappeared from the UHP office. I was assigned a new adviser, and since I had declared for theater by that point, I got the adviser who keeps a Lord of the Rings poster on her office wall and attends every production the university puts on. Needless to say, she was lots of help, and I would not have taken some of the proper courses without her.

      Current score: 0
  3. Matt Doyle says:

    I had a lovely, amiable, sympathetic advisor who was a brilliant woman and very helpful to me in a great many ways. But the university did not support her with any training in advising, and the Registrar’s Office was a maze of arcane procedures that actively resisted any attempt my advisor made to help me navigate.

    As a result, after four full-time and one half-time year I have a degree in English Lit & a Classical Studies double major that doesn’t lend itself to entering grad school… when I was aiming for an English Writing degree and planning to pursue a doctorate in Classical Studies.

    Current score: 0
  4. Mo says:

    I think if Mariel pointed out that she’s 4-5 years old he might get it… Maybe not though.

    Or maybe if she gave him a list of her needs rather than her goals? Idk.

    Current score: 0
  5. Computer Mad Scientist says:

    Nice to see that Mariel’s doing well for herself, even if some people aren’t doing as well for her as their job would indicate they should.

    Current score: 0
  6. pedestrian says:

    My personal experience was the college Advisory Office was helpful with guiding me thru the bureaucracy of choosing classes. Assisting me with my own inability to plan a relevant goal and coordinating the redtape with the Financial Aid Office. I still believe that they were assisting me the best they could.

    Not their fault I’m a klutz at personal planning and don’t even get me started on multi-tasking…. no, really, lets not go there. I keep driving pellmell into quagmires.

    PS – A funny thing happen to me on my way to the heights of pedagogy. Before enrolling, I had to take a bunch of tests. I guess to determine if I was smart enough to pay the tuition for an education? I don’t remember what some of the IQ? Personality? tests were called but I will never forget the results.

    According to these “scientifically verified” tests I was qualified for two careers. Either that of Secret Police {I knock at your door in the middle of the night to take you for a ride on the Carousel}.

    Or Psychic Reader. Hmmm, you’d of thought I would have seen that one coming!

    I shoulda applied to Stanford University. The obscenely rich goof who financed SU’s beginning, stuck them with a Charter requirement that they investigate paranormal delusions of mathematical improbabilities. And in public, the researchers are required to do it with a straight face.

    Fortuitously{?} Lost Vegas is relatively close by as a 24/7 research platform. With crap tables and chorus girls constantly available to blow the grant moneys on. Somebody has to pay for all those damn light bulbs!

    Current score: 0
    • bosco says:

      are you english? do they really take tests like that in highschool to determine if they should be allowed to do anything more(and if yes, university or tradeschool) or something?

      Current score: 0
      • pedestrian says:

        Stone the crows! Not in my present incarnation.

        These tests I had to take to be permitted to apply for College courses.

        Cheerio, old bean.

        Current score: 0
    • HiEv says:

      Where the heck did you do your career testing?

      “Secret Police” and “Psychic Reader” as careers sounds like something you’d get if a bunch of eight year olds made up dream jobs, and then someone used darts to pick some of those “dream jobs” randomly. The US doesn’t have “secret police”, we have FBI and Secret Service, and those includes many career paths. And “psychic reader” is basically a con artist, so who the heck gives anyone that as career advice?

      So I have to ask, are you from some weirdo parallel universe? ;-P

      Current score: 0
      • pedestrian says:

        HEv, You have discovered the alien invasion from a parallel dimension called California, the State of Confusion!

        My guess is, these job descriptions have remained unchanged since the early 1900’s. They just add on new ones such as telephone exchange operator and cinema usher as they developed. But they never had the administrative initiative, or for that matter the funding, to delete all the obsolete and ridiculous terms.

        And hey! I’d thought I am competent to run a gulag and I’d certainly make the uniform look good.

        Now for the psychic bit, I’d probably be stumbling around in those robes. Please no incense, it would trigger my allergies. Craps was my game, not cards. So I guess I’d have to cast bones rather then deal tarot.

        See you all on the flipside!

        Current score: 0
  7. Llerk says:

    I work in the university setting, and can tell you that advisors are largely trained staff with less than 5 years of experience. They aren’t paid particularly well, and often receive only basic training. This means that they generally know enough to help the majority of students, ie those going for a degree in 4-5 years. As they get more experience, they eventually start to understand the large university system, and can help students with non-standard needs. The problem is, once this happens, they almost always get a better paying job elsewhere in the university using that experience in other jobs, and are replaced by someone else with no experience. The trick is finding the experienced and knowledgeable advisor and making appointments far enough in advance that you can get them. Wish I’d known that back in my undergraduate program.

    Current score: 0
  8. Alluvial says:

    When I told my advisor I was dropping out and transferring to a CC back home, he empathized. I was an illustration major and I just wanted enough technical training to build a portfolio. One of my good friends told me that I came up in conversation and my advisor said, “I’m not worried about her. She is really talented and she is going to be okay.”

    I struggled through the worst depression of my life and quite literally almost died. When I was on the mend, those words were all I had. I felt like no one else believed in me.

    I reached out to him last fall, and told him how I was doing. He remembered me. He was so proud of me.

    Maybe some advisers are like Harmon, but mine definitely was not. 🙂

    (Note: visual and performing arts majors were all advised by professors in their degree program. Artists understand other artists. It’s pretty common for people to leave my program to work full time, and my father died while I was in college… So he understood why I wanted to stop struggling.)

    Current score: 0
  9. Helge says:

    I like this little interlude. I’d been wondering what had happened to Ariel, and it looks like in the past year she has in fact done four times the growing up.

    Academic advisor? What’s that? I had to figure out on my own what courses I needed, how to schedule them, and what to do when, in my fourth year, a required course wasn’t available. I don’t even know if my school had anything remotely like an academic advisor. Even now it looks like they are having the department chairs serve as academic advisors. There’s no way that could possibly go wrong. :-/

    Current score: 0
    • Stonefoot says:

      “There’s no way that could possibly go wrong. :-/ ”

      I’d say that’s actually true. ‘Going’ wrong would involve a change from something that was right, but this is wrong from the ‘get go’. So there’s no ‘going wrong’ when it was already hopelessly wrong to start with. And that helps so much in the actual situation. 😛

      Current score: 0
  10. Aritê says:

    I had two advisors my first year because I was in a residential college within the university. One was for the residential college, the other was the normal within-your-chosen-major advisor. The latter was great. He knew what he was doing and played to my strengths. I was a geology major heading for a career in paleontology and he made sure I took biology classes that would give me a minor and knowledge that I needed as well as an illustration class to polish my drawing skills. It wasn’t quite what either of us expected- scientific illustration has a different focus from standard illustration- but I still got use out of it.
    The residential college guy, though…he was definitely selling a product and not on top of things. During summer orientation, I discovered he had thought I was a bio major and signed me up for bio classes instead of geo. The next semester a required residential college course conflicted with a required major course that was a prerequisite for all the other geology classes and he tried to get me to delay taking it just so I could graduate the residential college on time (it was a two-year program). Thankfully my major advisor shot him down point blank.

    Current score: 0
  11. Blargrarg says:

    this bit here


    If you want to help you can maybe help me figure out which classes are going to give me the most practical knowledge and which ones are just like there to pad things out?”

    “Hang on a second,” he said.

    “I hang on every second when I’m talking to you,” she said. “No offense.”

    “What I mean is, I don’t think I could in good conscience help you try to plan your way around the kind of robust liberal arts education that a university offers,” he said. “If all you want is practical knowledge you might as well just go to beauty school or a community college.”

    I had somebody more or less say the exact words of when I was trying to get my computer security degree and kept having to take “diversity credits”(my school was big into teaching us we were too white for some reason(my freshmen required english class was actually titled “is whitey keeping you down: the literature of social justice”)) and writing classes(With the english majors while they got to take the baby version of math) to stretch it out into 4 years because my school decided any “sciency”(their word probably, its run by art majors) majors needed double the credit hours for a bs because they thought it unfair most of them were chem majors and the fewest were english.

    Current score: 0
  12. Pixie says:

    Heh. Harmon. Community College. I’m going to go with that being intentional, because it made me giggle.

    Current score: 0
  13. Zathras IX says:

    If a Sylph mates with
    A Demon, would their offspring
    Be a Speed Demon?

    Current score: 0
  14. Kataklysm says:

    I. Love. This.

    Current score: 0
  15. Reb says:

    Sounds like maybe she got away from Puddy. Good for her.

    Current score: 0
  16. Athena says:

    He keeps saying how she needs to slow down, thinks things through – I just want to quote Inigo Montoya at the man! ‘You keep saying this thing…I do not think it means what you think it means!’

    Current score: 0
  17. Maahes0 says:

    I can only imagine how a similar conversation would have been made from a human student at an elven university.

    Current score: 0
    • Cadnawes says:

      That’s a really good comparison. I have to admit, when we first found out about the details of sylph lives, I thought Mariel was out of her mind for even attempting university life.

      Current score: 0
  18. Trystia Indraea Olyphis Farrower says:

    I must say, my own university experience with advisers was quite a bit different, but probably because my two advisers (one for each major) were each also their department chairs. So they were exceptionally busy most of the time and couldn’t meet with me very often, but when they did, they could get just about anything done that I needed. And yes, they cared about me graduating, but that only meant that they went out of their way to find loopholes to allow me to not take stupid useless classes that I would just end up sleeping through. (My application to graduate was a horrendous mess full of overrides, equivalencies, and the like. Less than half the classes I took were the ones I was ‘supposed’ to take.)

    And we had students who took the same path Mariel is going for, who just wanted to learn enough to do what they wanted to do, and had no intention of getting a degree, and they were supported just as much. I’m so glad I went to a place that cared more about educating than about making money.

    Current score: 0
  19. anon y mouse says:

    “I realized that it wasn’t home I needed to get away from but people I mean specific people” – it feels like several words are missing, is that on purpose?

    Current score: 0
    • Potatohead says:

      I think it’s just Mariel’s general disregard for the rules of punctuation (because she talks so fast). Lacking things like commas makes it feel like she’s skipping over words.

      Current score: 0
    • Stonefoot says:

      For me, her statement stands perfectly well on its own. I don’t see where there would be a place to add anything else. Maybe I’m missing something????

      Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      Mariel’s dialogue tends to be written in run-on sentences, as I imagine the spoken dialogue tends to run together because she talks so fast. Remember, every time she concentrates on speaking very slowly, that’s just bringing it down to what’s normal for humans.

      Current score: 0
  20. Trihan says:

    I almost feel that I owe Mariel an apology; although I knew Sylphs were four times faster than other races, I never stopped to look at that from the other side of the coin and consider that for Mariel everything at university takes four times longer than she feels it should. Knowing that gives me more sympathy for her in earlier chapters.

    Current score: 0
  21. William Carr says:

    Mariel is right.

    I’ve had two advisors since I went back for Mechatronics.

    I didn’t NEED some of the “padding” classes, having HAD them years ago.

    My first Advisor talked me into taking some over again, wasting my time and money.

    And I’m stuck taking one more “padding” class in the Fall, which means I have to get another loan renewal.

    Current score: 0
  22. Lara says:

    Yay Mariel! She did so well in this chapter. She’s definitely got a much stronger hold on being assertive. I’m happy for her <3

    Current score: 0