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!

Learn more about our professors!

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God's touch11

Too busy browsing /r/gonewild?

Broke your arms and mom won’t help with your homework? No time to write your paper because you’re on a Colby rescue mission? Don’t worry, Unemployed Professors has your back! Our writers have PhD degrees from top American universities, and they will make sure you get the highest quality work, completed before your deadline, at competitive prices. We’ll write you anything you want, at any level or in any style you require. Everything we write is 100% custom written for you, and guaranteed to pass TurnItIn.

Want to learn more about our professors? Come check out our AMA at http://reddit.com/r/IAmA on Monday September 8 at 1pm PST. Ask us anything you like!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going to graduate school

The Winner Takes All

imagesK2RQ71JLGoing to graduate school is generally a bad idea for at least 100 reasons – this I learned much too late in my career. As I learn to adapt to the current job market I find myself reflecting on the path that brought me to Unemployed Professors. My personal route started in some very humble beginnings and took me through a variety of academic situations around the globe. These experiences have left me with little faith in the U.S. higher education system. You may think that this view is jaded, but I am perfectly happy with my successive approximations of reality.

I believe that there are more than 100 reasons not to go to graduate school, all of which can be translated into reasons why undergraduate education is a bad deal for many. The one reason that tends to float to the top of the frothy head inside my mind is that the winner takes all in the world of academics. This is similar to pedigree, but applies to those who have managed to bypass those invisible barriers. Education is very much unlike the business world (although this is rapidly changing) in that one doesn’t need to be a high-level executive to make more than a living wage.

Think about high school. In practice, the faculty teaches two types of students, college bound and not college bound. This means that the educational resources go to the college bound, who are likely from relatively privileged parents. For those not going to college, the difference is negligible between the passing and top grade in a class.

This same grading structure applies in the universities. Sure, there is the priceless satisfaction of a job well done and some intellectual enlightenment, if you are lucky; however, for most students their only reasonable expectation is higher earning potential. And from what I have seen along the way here, this is the desire of most college students.

The odds are stacked against you. To think otherwise is to be foolish. If you are not a white male, then things are even worse.

For many universities, your return on investment is diminishingly small. It’s worse if you go to a community college for anything other than a trade. I usually tell most struggling students to go become a skilled tradesman – there’s more work, money, and job satisfaction.

My peers who have received the most benefits out of their higher education were born into a world of academics and/or privilege of some sort. Their parents are mainly educators, professors, doctors, and lawyers. College is easy for them because they have already learned everything they needed to know before you even thought college might be an option.

Those who already have the most benefits will continue to receive the most benefits.

I have yet to see any students become substantially recognized and rewarded for climbing out of failure and into top-level grades and marks. This is a crying shame because it is these people who have truly shown exceptional intellect and motivation. Only the awarded get awarded. If you were not the head of your class as a young teenager, do not expect much in the way of scholarships, fellowships, awards, citations, etc.

Do not expect your boss to care that you earned the highest grade in your epistemology course. Hell, most public school districts in the U.S. could care less about their teacher’s own grades. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, but I am not talking about the tail end of the distribution.

Higher education has no place for students who are not already in first place. It is nearly analogous to why the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. But there is one crucial difference: Those at the top of the academic pile literally get everything and everybody else gets almost nothing – there is nothing in between. You can have good ideas; but, if they are not the best ideas, then you can expect no reward.

And guess what? The best ideas are not the best ideas. We all know this, but it doesn’t matter much. What matters in academics is if you have the privilege and prestige to back your ideas. These people get the very best resources, i.e. Ivy League and top government schools, while the rest of us can only ever hope to have one or two professors who care. I used to wonder why the professors at the top schools were the worst instructors. I now know that this is a stupid question; these students already have the necessary knowledge and background needed to succeed.

The best professors are at many community colleges. Period. These are the academics who entered the game for the right reasons: 1) They care about intellectual enlightenment. 2) They believe in equitable distribution of higher education. 3) They enjoy helping people achieve and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Coincidentally, these are the same reasons that ensure faculty failure at the best universities. Unfortunately, the community college students are not literate enough to understand this and the community college system is constructed in such a way that faculty are intellectually and academically castrated. At one community college, I was told that they do not normally hire PhD’s because they tend to overthink the job. I had to dumb down the way that I spoke to the hiring administration for fear of not getting the job. It is a depressing situation.

Universities have become quasi-trade schools for careers with no futures. In fact, a lot them started out as trade schools, uh, I mean, colleges for teachers. You are not walking into an environment that fosters enlightened discourse. You are entering a group that is a distribution between the extremes of people who like to party and those who simply want a well-paying job. Yes, there are a few students who have deluded themselves into believing that they are intellectuals. I say do not believe everything you think.

How do we accommodate all of these lovely students without failing everybody and collapsing the university system? We do this with grade inflation, student loans, and government grants. This means that most students need to get past some dickhead professor to get a degree that is effectively worthless.

The devalued bachelor’s degree has simply become another obstacle in life. Chances are that your new employer after college will not care about your sense of equality, imagination, creative writing skills, and so on. Your degree in anthropology only qualifies you to dig holes in the real world. Got a master’s degree in anthropology? Bigger holes. And guess what again? You will most likely end up with a boss that has the intellectual appetite of a goat and the human resource skills of Darth Vader.

At this point in my career, questioning the ethics of buying a model paper/essay is mooted by reality. To succeed in a situation where the winner takes all, one must not play by the rules. Disclaimer: However, you should keep it legal.

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

Petra-Pirate

June 19, 2014

The Art of Unlearning

AToffler_fullThe illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
–Alvin Toffler

No matter how many papers you buy from us, you’re going to have to learn the stuff that applies to your hoped-for career sometime. In the 21st century, that includes the ability to unlearn. Particularly in technical fields, stuff happens, and stuff unhappens. The pace of change of knowledge is speeding up all the time, and employers demand an ability to at least marginally keep up.

Which means that technical info, How (Your) Stuff Works, and programming languages and techniques are going to change, and change fast, and that is not going to stop during your career. Learn how to forget. The easiest way to do this is to deliberately replace old knowledge with new. Have short-term mantras – “There are no curly braces in Python” – and after a few hours, you will forget the idea that there ever could be curly braces in Python. Discard the mantra, and discard the obsolete no-longer-knowledege.