NYQ thinks Unemployed Professors “should burn in hell”

According to a threatening email my company received today, Ray Hammond thinks I should “burn in hell” for starting this site and hopes that I “choke on [my] money.” This message was sent from his official email account at the New York Quarterly, a non-profit and poetry publication.  

Instead of responding to this highly unpoetic message in kind, I am choosing to be the bigger person in this situation and I therefore made a gift to your organization. 

I began Unemployed Professors to help out both struggling students in a credential-oriented, capitalist educational system, as well as under-employed academics who may be struggling to pay for food, medical bills, or childcare.  

Mr. Hammond, I respect the work you do and hold your own organization in high regard. You don’t need to respect mine, but veiled threats and evocations of eternal damnation are uncalled for. After taxes, this is the largest donation I can afford to make this holiday season. 

Unlike NYQ, my organization would never under any circumstances wish death, violence, or eternal damnation on anyone. I hope you will use this gift to reflect on the true goals and values of your organization, as well as how you use its official communication channels.

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Creative writing can improve your communication skills

banner5In today’s day and age, people have the ability to engage in a more diverse range of hobbies than ever before. Some are physical activities, things like yoga and Zumba, which challenge the body and contribute to bodily health. Others, such as interactive gaming, stimulate the mind and, if interactive, create social situations for people who may otherwise be more introverted in their everyday lives. A hobby that’s been around for a long time, but is gaining popularity due to the technology driven world around us is creative writing. Something that is completely free to do, creative writing has the ability to improve one’s vocabulary, language, and cognitive reasoning skills.

Money is an issue for many people, and finding a hobby that can fit into a tight budget may seem daunting. Creative writing only costs time and the rewards that can stem from it are innumerable, especially when it comes to developing language skills. In the present culture of text messaging and emails, spelling, grammar and vocabulary tend to fall by the wayside. As a result, language and reading skills of the general public are suffering. This can prove problematic in any social situation, but especially in academic and professional environments. An easy way to overcome this is with creative writing, which forces the writer to utilize various words to get their ideas across. Dictionaries and thesauri are tools that creative writers often end up utilizing, which helps them get a more widespread grasp on language. The more someone writes, the more they tend to seek out new and innovative words to convey their thoughts, which translates into improved vocabulary in all aspects of life.

Creative writing can be anything from free-form prose to a structured and coordinated script, the possibilities are endless. Once a writer chooses a path, the goal is to organize their thoughts in a way that the reader can grasp the work. Often, this type of discipline and organization in creative writing will translate into more cogent and organized reasoning skills in everyday life. For example, during arguments many people feel flustered and incapable of expressing their thoughts in a cohesive and easily understood way. The intent, emotion and reasoning is there, yet the person lacks the language tools to effectively get their point across. Creative writing will help with that, as it trains the writer’s mind to express himself in a way that is more easily understood. This also works in reserve, making the writer more capable of understanding and unraveling communication from others.

Ultimately, creative writing is one of the best things someone can do to improve various communication skills. Vocabulary, language, and cognitive reasoning all improve when creative writing becomes a hobby. It is one of the most flexible and inexpensive diversions from everyday life, and there is also no set standard for someone to write. Creative writing does not discriminate, anyone from a child just learning to write to a genius academic can engage in this informal hobby; improvement and progress is inevitable.

Here at Unemployed Professors, we acknowledge this fact and are here to help you with your creative needs! Our profs are here to help with your term paper!

 

More networking tips for shy students

banner150X160Last fall, I blogged about some networking tips for the shy student. Now it’s a new year, a new term, and I have a whole new set of tips for you today. If you followed my advice, hopefully last term you made some friends, networked online, got in good with your professors, and made some social goals. Here are some challenges for you.

Hang out in the laundry room. No, really. Here is my thinking: Everyone who’s worth knowing does laundry sooner or later, right? So they will come through. And the people who don’t go to the laundry room will become someone else’s smelly friends, not yours. Added bonus: The laundry room is also a quiet place to study, generally speaking, free of many other distractions. So striking up a conversation with a potential new friend should be pretty easy. “Aren’t you in my [insert topic here] class?” is a good place to start, even if you know they aren’t. Or “Cool [team] hoodie! Were you at the game last week?”

Get out of the house or dorm. If you are in an online class, or online only program, networking may feel abstract and alienating. Try working in a public place: there are many coffee shops and even meetups targeted at people who work or study online. Check out WorkFrom.co or Meetup.com

Volunteer. This will help your resume, help you network, and connect you with people who share your interests. Put up flyers or invite people in your class to go with you to a cleanup. There are websites to find volunteer opportunities especially tailored to your interests. Try to get groups of people together to volunteer. It’s totally okay to ask your professor before class if you can make an announcement: “There’s a big river cleanup Saturday; does anyone want to go with me? It’s a great volunteer opportunity and then we can all get pizza. I’m hoping to get 20 people to come with me!”

Try on a new identity. Hell, it’s college. You might as well do it now. Do or wear something that starts conversations. Wear a tail. Get a weird piercing. Carry around a hobbyhorse. Be a Brony. Have a few snappy answers ready when someone asks you about them.

“Say Yes”. This is simple, but consider: there are few other times in your life when you have as much to gain and as little to lose as you do in college. A friend of mine had a rule in college to never turn down social engagements and to always say yes the first three times someone asked her to do something. After that, if you hate them, say no! But what’s the worst that will happen if you sit and have lunch (or three lunches) with someone who turns out to be boring, or if you go on a “meh” date or three? Nothing! You’ll gain valuable social experience and maybe even build important relationships.

Focus on networking, not studying. Work smarter, not harder, and see if any of our friendly professors can help you today.

Students – Make tomorrow suck less

banne300X200One of the most useful things I’ve ever come across is the “Unfuck your habitat” (UFYH) site. This site is full of small fixes and even an app. The fundamental idea underlying it is the Pareto principle, as well as the idea that small changes add up over time, because it’s important to change your habits.

However, one shortcoming I have found with it is that it is focused a bit more on housecleaning. It’s aimed at housewives. However, it is easy to change the recommendations for student life. One of the most important things in UFYH is to focus each day on making tomorrow suck less. That’s a great concept, right? “Make tomorrow suck less, today!” But for students, this doesn’t necessarily involve doing the dishes or laying out your clothes, and realistically, not all students are going to go to bed at a “reasonable hour.” What can you do, as a student who may have a shared bathroom that someone else cleans, no kitchen, and a raging Reddit addiction that takes up most of your night?

One of my favorite tips on the UFYH blog is to charge all your gadgets the night before. Next, you should pack up your bag. If you have an 8 AM class, make sure that before you go to bed (even if you go to bed at 6 AM), your bag is ready to go, so you can make sweet love to that snooze button as many times as possible while not risking forgetting anything. Is an assignment due? Will your professor only accept it in hard copy? You better print that shit out and have it in your bag. College is casual, so you might not need to worry as much about laying out clothes for tomorrow as the UFYH blog suggests, but you might want to lay out something clean to wear.

Double check your assignments and your email before you go to bed. You would not want to get up at the crack of 10 AM to the cruel sounds of your alarm clock if your professor canceled class the night before! Similarly, you don’t want to overlook any last-minute deadlines or homework assignments.

Finally, I think students should never be working on an assignment the day it’s due. Even if your class is late in the day, set yourself a deadline of the day before. Don’t go to bed and promise yourself you’ll get up at 4 AM to finish (trust me, I did this many times when I was in school, and it took years off my life). That kind of time management is only for experts, like me. And look how far it got me! Anyway, a buffer day to account for last-minute computer / health / zombie disasters is a great idea, so ideally, even if it means you stay up a little later, you can go to sleep relaxed. A looming deadline can interrupt even the most epic of sleep, so it just makes sense to get all your work done before you go to bed.

Make your own tomorrow suck less.  See if any of our tweed-wearing nerds can help you with your assignments.

 

 

How to talk to your college professor

banner3-300X250Believe it or not, professors are people too. Nerdy, boring people, yes, but people nonetheless. And most of them actually love to hear from students. Most of the time, I am happy to sit down with students and clarify expectations about an assignment, content for the course, or just shoot the shit and talk about their educational experiences and goals. Not only is this a great way to network and plant the seeds of later recommendations, it can be the difference. I know when I’m teaching, I’m a lot more forgiving of the students who made an effort to engage with me as a person than I am of the ones who huff in on the last day, claiming my final exam killed their grandmother and demanding an extension.

However, it’s possible to take this too far. Some professors like being called by their first names, others don’t. Follow their lead and call by the name they’ve introduced themselves in class. Emails should always be relatively professional, but on the other hand, why waste your time writing “Hi it’s [your name]” in an email, where the subject line clearly says the sender? You may feel a real rapport with a professor and that’s great – but keep in mind that office hours need to be prioritized. You may be having a great conversation, but it’s polite to leave if someone else comes in, especially if they seem to have a concern.

Professors do care about you (really), but you should keep conversations professional or neutral. Don’t ask questions about their personal life unless it’s something they have brought up first. Also, while it may be important to talk a bit about your personal life, keep in mind that these are the first professional relationships of your life, so try and be professional in what you tell your professor. “I am very sorry I missed class; I was very sick” is acceptable. “Sorry I missed class, I had diarrhea” (as one email I received said) is not.

Remember that if you are having very serious personal issues, it may be best to ask your professor about campus counseling options and services. Your professor is your professor, not your friend, your priest, or your psychologist. Your professor is your champion, because they want you to succeed, but they have a different role than counselors or social workers. They may feel a rapport with you – I do have my favorite students – but they have an obligation to all of their students, so don’t monopolize all their time.

In my experience, the students who made the most effort to communicate professionally and appropriately were the most successful. It may be really difficult to navigate the professor-student relationship, especially if you’re the first in your family to go to college. However, this is no reason to be intimidated. Even the most famous and renowned professors are still complete dorks in the real world. Well, maybe Indiana Jones wasn’t…but he was the only one. And he’s probably not your professor….I hear he’s on sabbatical anyway.

Talk to your own professor today. See if any of our tweed-wearing nerds can help you with your assignments.

Unemployed professors review – an insiders opinion

Professors_01A couple of years ago, my company rewrote the unemployed professors website in return for an equity position in the company. Writing a website for equity is a common request in my industry, but not one that I often entertain. After all, I have enough ideas of my own that I do not have time for. I made an exception for unemployed professors because they had a revenue stream and management was very very impressive.

Some of the questions that I get from friends and family are: “Are you worried that your existing clients will look unfavorably on the fact that you created a website that enables students to cheat?” “Don’t you feel that it is morally irresponsible to be part of unemployed professors?”

If you can imagine the look of disbelief on John McEnroe’s face when a ball is called out, I can only answer these questions with: you cannot be serious!

First of all, I am in business to make money and don’t have time for all the kumbaya bullshit that our overpaid Hollywood starlets engage in.

On a serious note, our customers come in many flavors. There is a small minority that literally buys their entire degree. I can only surmise that these people are sent to school by their rich daddies and have no desire to be there. Is this a problem created by unemployed professors? No, it is a problem created by nepotism. These people will probably end up taking a cushy, high paying, no-work job with one of daddy’s affiliates and live happy ever after. It’s good to be lucky; I don’t have a problem with that.

Another reason students use our service is to complete writing assignments for non-core forced elective courses. These students are making the practical choice of spending more time on their core studies in order to elevate their GPA as well as their expertise in their chosen field. These are highly motivated students coping with an enormous workload in a practical manner. In the end, these students will usually graduate with honors and with a deeper understanding of their major. The argument can be made that these non-core courses help broaden your education. A load of crap; life itself is good enough for that, you are in school to get a solid foundation in your chosen field, use every minute wisely.

The most interesting subset of our clientele is the student who has already written an assignment and is asking for advice before submitting it or asking help with a re-write after it was rejected. Truly remarkable; obviously a very dedicated student, but why come to us? If you are a student like I was many years ago, you can understand the frustration of professors not respecting their office hours or caring more about their own research projects when you happen to find them. The fact of the matter is that the professionals at unemployed professors are here for you and care that you get the help and the mark that you deserve and also to learn from the experience.

.… And during the process I truly believe that you will become a better student. – Shadow

One of our friendly, tweed-wearing Unemployed Professors is happy to help you tame the paper monster.

Steven Covey’s time management quadrant

Are you constantly scrambling to get stuff done at the last minute? Maybe the problem isn’t what you do or not do, but how you prioritize it. The scrawled list of things “to do” may work well if you only have a few simple tasks to accomplish, as one of the best Kids in the Hall sketches demonstrates. I used to put things on my to-do list like “drink coffee” and “drink more coffee.” This made me feel productive, but it didn’t get my important tasks done.

kids

(Source: Kids in the Hall, “Things to Do,” via YouTube.com)

When you have to do important, complex tasks, and figure out how to best implement the Pareto Principle, it is best to implement a system. Steven Covey’s time management quadrant is an easy way to prioritize things. You don’t even actually need to fill in all the quadrants. For the purposes of this blog, we’re considering a to do list that only contains academic things.

Quadrant I is important, urgent items. Your house is on fire? Quick, write it into the quadrant (actually, don’t) and get out. Gotta pee? Quadrant I. That 14 page paper you have been putting off for 2 months and that’s now due tomorrow? That’s important and urgent, now. Quadrant II is important, but not urgent. That’s where you put stuff like calculus homework due next week, a paper due in a month, and so on.urgency

(Source: SidSavara.com)

Quadrant III is where you have to make some choices: these are not important, but urgent things are ones you can’t get out of. They might be homework assignments for classes you hate, or conversations with that roommate who never shuts up. It might be scheduling an appointment with your advisor because you know you have to do it this term. They might include eating before you pass out.

Quadrant IV is for not important, not urgent stuff. Just thinking about what might go here can help you focus your energies. Tragically, reading hilarious Wikipedia articles is not going to get your important, urgent tasks done. Neither will re-watching every episode of your favorite childhood cartoon on YouTube. Someday these things may ec=-

The trick with this system is doing things before they become important and urgent, because most things eventually become urgent if you do not attend to them. Not important and not urgent – those might be things you want to do, like Facebook, or things that otherwise do not improve your life. I used to put “Return library books” on there because even though it was not important (at least before they were overdue), and not even really urgent, it made me feel productive. Don’t do that.

I used this system for years and it helped me become a top student in high school, college, and graduate school. Here are my tips:

  1. Break down big tasks into smaller tasks. “Dissertation” was important, but putting it on my to do list was, obviously, useless. “Add suggested sources to dissertation prospectus” was not, and it was both important and urgent.
  2. Appointments are important and urgent, because flaking out is shady, and having an appointment in your day affects how much of your time is left to do other things.
  3. Put categories of unimportant, not-urgent stuff in Quadrant IV. Don’t write in specific timewasters, but keep your eye on it and ask yourself if you are getting distracted or if what you are doing is contributing to the big picture.
  4. Consider each item in Quadrant II to be a ticking time bomb. If you don’t deal with it, after a while it will become urgent. And urgent, important tasks are no fun.
  5. Only you get to decide what is important. Sometimes, school gets so intense you have to make tough decisions, and this might mean that a worksheet for art history isn’t as important as, say, a business exam. This might mean that you need to outsource or ask for help.

Have you let an important task become urgent? Are you trying to delegate your work flow so that you can work smarter, not harder? Try letting an Unemployed Professor tackle the task so you can focus on other important things.

The Pareto Principle

ParetoYou’ve probably heard the saying that 80% of the work gets done in 20% of the time. But what does that even mean, especially for the less mathematically inclined? Simply put, this mantra means that 80% of people’s work time is spent on trivial tasks. It is only in 20% of the time that the real work gets done. Why? Just think of all the distractions that compete for your time.

There are 5 workdays in a week. 4 of them are totally wasted on busywork. Think about this in terms of school: Maybe 1 day a week you have classes for your major. The rest of your time might be lectures, worksheets, web post discussions, quizzes, reaction papers about your feelings, dioramas, group projects, and so on, needlessly, sucking at your time like a vampire.

The Pareto Principle was named after Vilfredo Principle. Just kidding, his real name was Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923). An early 20th century Italian economist, he observed both that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population and that in his own garden, 80% of the peas were on 20% of the plants (it remains unclear as to whether his garden was located in the 80% or 20% of his own research), he also observed that The principle applies to a great deal of life today, and is at the center of a great deal of management theory, business research, and even psychology. However, you can use it, too, in your everyday life. (Source: 4plebs.org)

He looks a bit like an Unemployed Professor, which means you should totally listen to his advice about time management. In other words, the Pareto Principle tells us that we need to work smarter, not harder. That might mean turning off your phone when you study, or deleting Facebook. It might mean managing your time ever more effectively: for example, do whatever you can to ensure that you shore up important tasks before they become both important and urgent (use a Covey time management graph, the subject of a forthcoming blog post).

Or it might mean looking at your list of dismal, mediocre assignments designed to fluff the ego of your Employed Professor, and outsourcing the job to an Unemployed Professor while you spend your time focusing on what matters to you.

The top 5 worst term paper assignment types

Veteran writers for term paper writing services have seen all kinds of shit. Believe it or not, some of the reasons students try to outsource their work or beat TurnItIn have to do not with their own ethics, but because of the terrible assignments. Some professors leave students with no choice but to try and find a writing service to help them out.

Here are the top 5 worst term paper assignment types. Which do you remember from school? Which are you trying to get out of right now? Remember that if any of these are plaguing you, the experts at Unemployed Professors have got your back.


boys

(SOURCE: Boyz in the Hood, 1991)

The “Drive-by Citing.”
We all know this one. Some professor thinks someone can address a complex topic….in 6 pages…with a requirement of 15 mandatory sources. Oh, you think this is crazy? I’ve written over 1,000 papers for Unemployed Professors. The shit I’ve seen has included requirements like these, with added bullshit bonus stuff like 1/3 of the sources must be tonal poems or something. The main purpose of these papers seems to be to get students to cite sources for no reason other than to cite source, because it is impossible to treat a complex, broad topic in a short span of pages while paying obeisance to dozens of secondary sources.


the-haiku
(Source: Tasseography.com)

The “Haiku.”
I also call this the “Tweet.” The professor is asking for a 3000-word paper. All the student knows is that it’s supposed to be 3000 words and maybe use MLA formatting, or is it APA? All other instructions have been conveyed in the form of vague gestures, fluffy clouds, and tealeaves.


wall-of text
(Source: Blurrent.com)

The opposite of the Haiku. The “Tl;dr.”
The opposite of the Haiku. The “Tl;dr.” Too long, didn’t read. Dear professors: If you’re assigning a 3-page paper, you should probably not include more than 3 pages of instructions. I’ve seen instructions for 3 page papers that topped out at, I kid you not, 10 pages single-spaced. Interesting variations include the condescending or snarky instructions, as well as the ones that blatantly mock students somewhere in the wall of text. Luckily nobody ever reads that far.


structure(Source: YAChatsyouth.org)

The factual scavenger hunt.
This is a highly structured paper that exists solely so students can regurgitate facts in an order proscribed by the professor. There is no argument, no critical thinking. It is simply a recall-based exam in essay form.



fill-in-the-blamks
(Source: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk)

The fill-in-the blanks.
You know what I’m talking about. The professor isnt’ just holding your hand. I mean the professor is gripping your arm and basically telling you what to write. Underline and italicize the thesis statement. Use the thesis statement worksheet and make sure your thesis fits into the blank. Then make three, no more no less, arguments and sub arguments with a polite rebuttal. There is absolutely zero room for creativity or critical thought in these papers. They are effectively a long-form worksheet. But professors seem to love them. And why not? In every highly structured sentence, there are dozens of opportunities to ding students who dare to think for themselves.

Remember, even if you are dealing with a paper that doesn’t fit into one of these categories, one of our friendly, tweed-wearing Unemployed Professors is happy to help you tame the paper monster.

Third episode of Season 4 of Girls

girls I hate to engage in spoilers or speculation, but my take on the latest season of Girls is that Hannah is going to drop out of her MFA program in creative writing. For those of you just tuning in, last night was the third episode of Season 4 of Girls. During one emotional scene between Hannah and Elijah, she admits that in college, her best friend / roommate Marnie wrote most of her papers. Now that she’s in grad school, Hannah feels a certain emptiness from the opportunity to spend her time writing what she ostensibly wants to be writing.

But let’s stop right there. Hannah had her best friend write her papers in college! What about integrity?! On the other hand, let’s look at it another way: Hannah focused on what she was good at and found a way to leverage her time so that it worked for her. Hannah isn’t a terrible student or a desperate scumbag (well, depends on your opinion of Girls). She’s one of the whitest people who’s ever lived, true, but she is, comparatively speaking, normal. A lot of people may see themselves in her. And even she outsourced her less useful schoolwork. She did not say what Marnie got out of this arrangement, but we here at Unemployed Professors would postulate that she probably did not charge enough. On the other hand, if Marnie ditches Desi, completes a graduate degree and gets some teaching experience, perhaps she could get a gig at Unemployed Professors. Marnie seems to have a lot of experience beating the infamous TurnItIn and writing custom papers.

Girls’ shift to an academic Iowa setting may not work in the long-term for the show, but it certainly sets the characters in an interesting light vis-à-vis the potential for conversations about academic honesty.

If you need help with an essay or term paper post your project on unemployed professors today!