My Math Forum Confused

 January 10th, 2012, 02:12 PM #11 Math Team     Joined: Jul 2011 From: North America, 42nd parallel Posts: 3,372 Thanks: 234 Re: Confused CRGreathouse wrote 'It's pretty rare that you can find useful, college-level resources at a public library or bookstore. Popular materials and high-school math (through calc) are common, but when was the last time you saw Galois theory at B&N?' http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Field- ... 0387947532 If there is a book in print, barnes and noble will get it to you in 24 hours, free shipping if the book costs 25 dollars or more. I used to hang out at 2 barnes and noble in nyc both had thousands of books about math and science, schaums outlines on hundreda of math and physics topics. Haven't been there since 2008 cause i moved. The barnes and noble at lincoln square was AWESOME! 4 massive floors with the entire 4th floor being a cafe. I would buy a coffe for $1.10 and get a 50c refill spending hours reading any book i wanted. Sometimes i would buy a latte for$5 no one ever complained. If the cafe was full, i would lay down on the carpet in a corner and use my schoolbag as a pillow,reading books i picked from their shelves. in 4 years not once did anyone complain, many others did the same as me. I learned more math at barnes and noble than any classroom, that's why i am sad and angry when i heard it is closing. http://newyork.untappedcities.com/2011/ ... nes-noble/ I bought many books from them, one book i bought twice, 'An imaginary tale' by Paul J. Nahin. The first time i bought it for me because it is a treasure of information regarding sqrt(-1), the second time as a gift for a friend. It was out of stock the second time so i paid for it and they shipped it free, got it the next morning. I also found books there about Quaternions, number theory, calculus, linalg, diffeq, you name it. Many books published by Springer Verlag...very good publishers of various mathematical content, including cutting edge research, Heck, i even learned some quantum mechanics at b&n. I remember picking up this book by John Archibald Wheeler about gravitation...1000 pages long and at least 10 difficult equations on every page HAHAHA-HAAAAHA Yeah i have to agree with CRGreathouse...mathematics of any consequence is very difficult indeed. read about Richard P. Feynman's work at the cafe...on and on... that place was a treasure repository of human intellectual achievement. Sad it is no more...
January 10th, 2012, 03:23 PM   #12
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Re: Confused

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ballser
Thank you for all the replies!

You all made good points. I was thinking if there was any alternative way of studying math and later on getting some kind of income from it. But of course you must have degree anyways. I think I just have to move my ass to the department of mathematics and move forward there. Its the only way.

Quote:
 I'd hate to see you just trudge through all your math courses like this and have to do all the fun stuff outside of class. Have you spoken to anyone? Are you allowed to study independently? Are the classes outside the math department different? I mean, do you have math classes that are in another department that are taught differently? (That's the only interpretation I can make of your comment.) If so, can you take them within the math department?
I hardly go to the classes at all. I study to the tests from home. IF I study..The things they teach are not hard, but its just very hard for me to prepare for tests. I get bored and frustrated and cant go on. Its hard for me to just memorize and read certain things for tests..I think that's what the problem is fundamentally. I feel I'm very much different learner than what people usually are. Anyways I have to find out a way to move my ass forward when I get to the department of mathematics. I hope it will work.
At the moment I'm actually studying math in a university that is 100% for master of science so I would need to change university as well, in order to get to the math department.

I like to use my imagination a lot, trying to find out new things of things I have just learned, and then going even further from there, it could be thought as a bit crazy.
My dream is that I could study and investigate math by myself as a hermit and be able to feed myself same time, hehe. If I were rich I wouldn't have any problem. I would continue as I have to this day, but since I'm not rich the future doesn't look so bright. Of course money solves problems of almost all people hehe.

I hope I made myself a bit more clear, but please feel free to make sharp and even offensive questions and comments. I don't mind you being offensive at all. It could be helpful. I don't feel I have opened or revealed everything necessary regarding this issue to you. I hope to get some clarity on my mind from this thread.
Have you ever considered becomming an actuary? As far as i know, all you need to do is pass their exams which are given several times each year. Anyone can take the math exams... you don't need to be in school, just pay the exam fee. The exams are tough, i saw some sample questions, but a self learner like you could make it happen if you have what it takes. You will be free of university curriculum, just pass the exams and you become a member, they make very good money and there is always a need for financial analysts, more so in the next 20 years because of the financial crisis the planet is going through

You can take the exams as many times as you want AFAIK and most of them (All of them?) are multiple choice.

http://www.beanactuary.org/exams/

http://www.beanactuary.org/exams/rules/?fa=exam-fees

http://www.soa.org/education/exam%2Dreq/

I would pursue it myself if my brain wasn't already fried.

January 11th, 2012, 03:14 PM   #13
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Re: Confused

Sorry to answer more than one thing at the same time, but otherwise I'd be answering about 5-6 different postings. (At least I left the names on the quotes. )

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum The best way to learn is to be shown examples. Show me how to do the problem...then change the numbers and see if i can get the result. That would be teaching.
That sounds to me like teaching someone how to be an ape. Which I don't consider to be "teaching" at all. In fact, this is the very thing I find to be the problem: show how to run through the problem, imitate me, if you can do that, you know how to do the problem. Not! It means they can imitate a structure. Not sure where the idea came from that professors (and tutors) won't show examples, when in my experience, running through examples is all I ever see them do, without ever explaining what they mean, or what is underlying it. I realize different schools are different, but I work online and see students from schools all across the country and this same thing seems to be going on everywhere.

Granted, this might be a process that has to happen somewhere along the way. In pieces, within a context of explaining. One thing that can be done is having the student explain it back to you in their own words, not just do it. It also depends on what it is and the level it's at. Higher math becomes more abstract.

This is exactly what was always expected of me: learn this process. As a general rule, everyone around me would know "how" to do something far before I would. Because they repeated the process and could "ape it." While I was trying to understand it. The difference was that once I finally got around to understanding it, I actually understood it, and they didn't. So I could then do the problems that were different than the example by applying it, and applying it to future things we learned.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum Have you ever considered becomming an actuary?
I'd be careful with all this. First, I'm not convinced that all you have to do is pass exams without any college on your record. Second, sometimes passing these types of exams is not about having knowledge about a subject, i.e. like learning about calculus or finance on your own. It's about learning the very specific things they want you to know. A lot of the work can also be tedious. I'd say look into the field carefully, and look into the requirements carefully. It also requires some business background. (No clue what type of math OP is interested in - this is a lot statistics and finance related.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRGreathouse
Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum This has been my experience: professors don't know how to teach learners and mathematicians don't know how to write books for non-experts. Solutions are closely gaurded, and many times on an exam the student is asked unfair questions only experts understand.
I think that too many people go to college; it would be better if a number of those who have trouble would just drop out. Math is hard.

It's true that many math books are written poorly -- it's actually very hard to make them accessible. But the point stands regardless.
Totally agree with this. The school where I work always seems to bend over backwards to make sure people can pass classes they should have never been in. They try to dummy down math classes cause people can't pass them. Well, maybe they weren't meant to pass them. In some cases, I can see the point. Like they require every student take some math course, even if you're a theatre major. So I can see trying to find a way to make sure they can get through these lower-level classes or they'd have a lot of people never getting a degree in anything at all. They do have classes that aren't a prerequisite for anything, but they take the classes that are prerequisites for other courses and dummy those down too. I mean, huh? If someone has a major requiring more math, they have to be able to do math to at least some extent. I'm working with mostly business majors, and they are going to have to do a certain amount of math -- if they're terrible at it, change majors. (It's not like they're taking the same courses a math major would, but still....)

And some people simply don't belong in college, either due to the inability to learn anything at all, or because they're far too lazy to actually work for it. Getting a college degree wasn't meant to be a piece of cake, though I think an average person, with work, can manage to get one.

(But yes, a lot of math books stink. That's why the instructor has that much more requirement to be good. I really love the ones who do nothing but read the book - what a waste of a salary. I also have to agree that test questions are sometimes unfair, and I don't believe in dummying down tests. But some are unfair.)

January 11th, 2012, 03:50 PM   #14
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Re: Confused

I'm supposed to be getting ready to go somewhere. I hate when I do this. :P

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Ballser I hardly go to the classes at all. I study to the tests from home. IF I study..The things they teach are not hard, but its just very hard for me to prepare for tests. I get bored and frustrated and cant go on. Its hard for me to just memorize and read certain things for tests..I think that's what the problem is fundamentally. I feel I'm very much different learner than what people usually are. Anyways I have to find out a way to move my ass forward when I get to the department of mathematics. I hope it will work.
I think right now that may be what it comes down to: just dealing with it for the moment. It sounds like me with my third quarter of econ. The first two were more interesting and I had a better instructor, and then that third quarter came and I swear I couldn't read that book for more than 10 minutes before I'd be up pacing around the house cause I just couldn't tolerate it.

You also may not be that much of a different kind of learner - perhaps you just recognize it. If people are taught a certain way, that's all they know. If they were taught a different way, they might realize it works better.

Quote:
 I like to use my imagination a lot, trying to find out new things of things I have just learned, and then going even further from there, it could be thought as a bit crazy.
I don't think it's crazy. I just don't know that it fits into the structure of your average class. Upper level classes seem to be more encouraging about going outside of things a bit or getting into research and whatnot. Lower level classes seem a lot more structured. I once had an argument with my stats teacher over a lab. To this day I contend that I'm right, as I was trying to apply it realistically to this business model. She told me I was being "too creative." (???) It wasn't creative - it was just realistic. So I screwed it all up cause I couldn't stay within the confines of what was a terrible lab.

Quote:
 My dream is that I could study and investigate math by myself as a hermit and be able to feed myself same time, hehe. If I were rich I wouldn't have any problem. I would continue as I have to this day, but since I'm not rich the future doesn't look so bright. Of course money solves problems of almost all people hehe.
Well, I'm a bit of a hermit (that's why my friends are online - sheesh), and I feel for you here. I have lots of things I'd rather be doing if I were rich and didn't have to work. Work can be very structured as well. I have a feeling this problem of yours is going to extend to work as well, and not just school. People sometimes don't understand when I say I can't stand jobs where I have to do everything someone else's way - it's too structured. I need to to just know what you need, and then let me do it my way to get to the goal.

Quote:
 What is generally taught: "This is A, that is B. You do **** and you get E." Students learning: "This is A, that is B. I do **** and I get E. Now I know this thing." I don't say that's bad. Particularly if you just need math as a tool for applications of it.
You are absolutely right!! I run across a lot of people like this. If they can follow the process and get to the answer, then they "know how to do it." And they don't care about understanding anything else about it, cause they just want through the class. Of course, this is usually when the class isn't their major area. I don't in any way consider they "know this thing." They know how to follow a process. And then as soon as the next problem turns the tables on them, like wants them to work into it backwards or something, they have no clue. And in the next chapter when they have to utilize the thing for something else, they have to learn it from scratch again as though they never saw it before.

Quote:
 Now the reason why I say that I feel myself being a very different learner is because I study and learn by exploring and using imagination. If someone says me "This is that and that is this. Remember it in the exam." I will not be using my imagination or exploring anything and I will be extremely bored compared to the other way I study, learn and investigate math.
Very true - again sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get through something. College is going to have a certain amount of structure. You need to find things that you can do outside of that to keep your interest. You may have to spend time figuring out what exactly interests you and see if you can follow that path.

I believe I saw where you said you're a first-year student? So you're going to be in all the basic junk. And I don't think you're all that "different." If you are at basic levels, you're with a lot of people who may be heading off very different directions than you, and maybe they don't care about this particular stuff. It's a bit like me with my accounting major: all business majors (and some non-business majors) have to take the first-year accounting. For a marketing major, they may hate the stuff. Worse, computer networking majors have to take it. That's a real hoot - they don't care about accounting. (Even grad students who didn't have it as an undergrad have to go back to this basic class.) But then you get to the upper level classes, where everyone is specifically an accounting major, it's a totally different story. Now they're interested. Now they want to understand. Now we have the teachers who specialize in this area and are also interested in it, and interested in the students. Yes, I still had to take stuff totally not my thing (auditing ), but upper level stuff was definitely more interesting, and I was among students who were more interested in it. Hopefully this will happen to you when you get further along. (This is of course assuming I understood you correctly.)

Remember that you're in an area that your average person hates. Most people hate math and find it difficult. You are obviously going to get a different attitude when you come to a forum that's a bunch of math geeks. (And occasionally an accounting geek. ) So you may find some solace here.

 January 11th, 2012, 08:39 PM #15 Math Team     Joined: Jul 2011 From: North America, 42nd parallel Posts: 3,372 Thanks: 234 Re: Confused I would like to pose a question and my opinion for the answer as food for thought. Question: Why do students struggle in college level courses even though they meet the prerequisites for the course? The answer (in my opinion) It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the student, it has everything to do with the desire of the college to maximize profits by making students take the same course more than once. Most professors explain a few key points, then strap a jet engine on a concept and vrooom! the student is left to figure out the consequences of theorems and when to apply them. Most professors apply a 'sink or swim' philosophy but they don't jump in to help you if you sink. In your opinion, CRGreathouse and Erimass, there are too many idiots masquerading as students in colleges, maybe so, perhaps universities shouldn't advertise that higher learning is for everyone that can pass the entrance exams? As far as the ape comment is concerned, in my opinion, most people have to learn that way before they can learn how to think like a mathematician. You know what i really hate? professors who won't tell you what is on the exam, who won't administer a pretest so you can know exactly what is expected of you. These are the same professors who treat the course as some sort of contest between them and the student's...you have to outsmart them before they give you a decent grade. Think of all the students who take the same course again and again. Paying good money what do they get in return? whipped air and mental masturbation. It's called 'THE COTTAGE INDUSTRY' Nice scam they have going on. By the time one has figured out college is not for them, one has spent several thousand dollars.
January 11th, 2012, 08:48 PM   #16
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Re: Confused

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the student, it has everything to do with the desire of the college to maximize profits by making students take the same course more than once.
That's not it.

Do you know why? Because the professors who set the standards are not the ones who benefit (financially) from having students retake classes.

But further, students who fail classes are much more likely to drop out of that college entirely (for another, a community college, or no college at all). The university almost certainly makes more money on students who pass than those who fail for that reason. So no, I don't think that's it at all.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum Most professors apply a 'sink or swim' philosophy but they don't jump in to help you if you sink.
I agree. That's really not the professor's job, though.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum You know what i really hate? professors who won't tell you what is on the exam, who won't administer a pretest so you can know exactly what is expected of you. These are the same professors who treat the course as some sort of contest between them and the student's...you have to outsmart them before they give you a decent grade.
You expect professors to tell you what will be on the exam?!? What is this, middle school?

January 11th, 2012, 09:35 PM   #17
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Re: Confused

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRGreathouse
Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the student, it has everything to do with the desire of the college to maximize profits by making students take the same course more than once.
That's not it.

Do you know why? Because the professors who set the standards are not the ones who benefit (financially) from having students retake classes.

But further, students who fail classes are much more likely to drop out of that college entirely (for another, a community college, or no college at all). The university almost certainly makes more money on students who pass than those who fail for that reason. So no, I don't think that's it at all.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum Most professors apply a 'sink or swim' philosophy but they don't jump in to help you if you sink.
I agree. That's really not the professor's job, though.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum You know what i really hate? professors who won't tell you what is on the exam, who won't administer a pretest so you can know exactly what is expected of you. These are the same professors who treat the course as some sort of contest between them and the student's...you have to outsmart them before they give you a decent grade.
You expect professors to tell you what will be on the exam?!? What is this, middle school?
The professors are puppets who preserve the status quo, otherwise they get fired long before they get tenure, or are in a position to set standards. it is a mistake to think management doesn't pull their strings. It is a fact that colleges make more money on lower level math courses than all the other math courses combined. It is a fact that many students repeat these same courses fattening up the college. There is an endless supply of 'customers' waiting to take these courses, it doesn't matter if they drop out, many more suckers are available, it's called 'THE COTTAGE INDUSTRY'

What is the professors job? To challenge your ability by obscuring the details and make you feel stupid when you don't understand?

So... you don't want the students to know what is on the exam? Only an expert can pass your course...how will you turn your students into experts in 3 MONTHS? All you are doing is identifying geniuses, you are not teaching, which is the job of a professor.

January 11th, 2012, 11:33 PM   #18
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Re: Confused

Boy, you have a worse opinion of education than I do, and mine's pretty bad. What I'm reading from you is that you're going to already hate a school whether you know anything about it or not. I'm not saying you're not entitled to your opinion - you are. But I have to wonder how much of this is emotion rather than opinion.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by agentredlum Question: Why do students struggle in college level courses even though they meet the prerequisites for the course? The answer (in my opinion) It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the student, it has everything to do with the desire of the college to maximize profits by making students take the same course more than once.
I strongly disagree with this as well. I disagree for two reasons, one of which is what CRG said. I have to wonder how you seem to know the inner workings of a school and things that really should be private. Are you on the inside track to have knowledge of these things, or is this just an opinion?

I went back to school after many years. I was still good at basic math and remembered really, really basic algebra. I faked my way through the pass-out-of-basic-algebra test and got into this business algebra class. I was way ahead of the people who had just come out of the prerequisite. I mean, huh? (I've always picked up on math fairly easily, but I hadn't had any of this junk for like 15 years.) If they're using a class for a prerequisite, they need a C. Most people getting a C don't really know the material all that great. (Or they know it really well and the instructor's a jerk, or they have bad test anxiety, or something else unusual.) So who is thinking they actually have the needed material to move on to the next class? If they just wanted them to pay for it again, why pass them on?

We also have some lousy part-time instructors. They know the material really well themselves -- after all, they have a degree in it, presumably meaning they were better than average at the subject. And then seem to think the class should be that way. This is why I think the upper level classes are better - now you have majors only in them. In lower level, you have people who are average. If the instructor doesn't get that, the class is gone. (We at least have a good tutorial program that gets a lot of business. These bad instructors keep me in business. But that's also why I consider that I "teach" rather than "tutor.")

Quote:
 Most professors apply a 'sink or swim' philosophy but they don't jump in to help you if you sink.
Yeah, I'll agree with that, although in many cases they don't have time to deal with individual people. But some try harder than others.

Quote:
 In your opinion, CRGreathouse and Erimass, there are too many idiots masquerading as students in colleges, maybe so, perhaps universities shouldn't advertise that higher learning is for everyone that can pass the entrance exams?
I don't know that they do advertise that. I was looking to go back to school and nearly everywhere I went, while advertising the bright wonderful future you're going to have with one of their degrees, also tended to note that it was going to take some work. One school seemed to take pride in how hard it was going to be. (Maybe they like students who like a real challenge.)

Quote:
 As far as the ape comment is concerned, in my opinion, most people have to learn that way before they can learn how to think like a mathematician.
I'm not a mathematician so I don't now how they think. I would hope that someone who is set to be a mathematician would have an innate ability to think about math without just being an ape. Yes, someone has to be shown a certain amount of stuff. But what I'm calling being an ape may be different than what you'd call it, who knows.

Quote:
 You know what i really hate? professors who won't tell you what is on the exam, who won't administer a pretest so you can know exactly what is expected of you. These are the same professors who treat the course as some sort of contest between them and the student's...you have to outsmart them before they give you a decent grade.
I have two opinions on this. The fact that they won't tell you what's on the exam in and of itself I have no issues with at all. If I were a professor, I wouldn't likely give you a pretest either, nor would I tell you what's on the test. And I'm certainly not trying to have a contest with you. I would state from the start of the class that I will go over all topics that are going to be on the test, plain and simple. Yes, I very likely might hand out some practice problems so people can see what my problems might be like versus the book, but I wouldn't hand out some pretest so you can see exactly what I'm putting on the exam. If you came to class, you'd know what topics I just taught.

Having said that, I've seen some instructors with some pretty crapola tests. Like stuff that's nothing like what was done in class. Or stuff that's really not important. And personally, I don't think they're trying to get anyone to outsmart them. I just think they're stupid and occasionally smarta**es. (It's usually those part-timers with the worst tests.)

Quote:
 Think of all the students who take the same course again and again. Paying good money what do they get in return? whipped air and mental masturbation. It's called 'THE COTTAGE INDUSTRY' Nice scam they have going on. By the time one has figured out college is not for them, one has spent several thousand dollars.
I don't think college is a scam. I do believe there are some schools better than other schools. I think some are very hard. I think some baby people. I will make some generalizations about the general education system, which has a lot of reasons behind it, but "scam" isn't one of them. But you might want to also keep in mind that any private school is a business. (I just bet you have a few theories about businesses in general though.)

There are good teachers and bad, good schools and bad. And yes, I do believe there are school systems and colleges which are probably up to no good. (In fact, I know there are.) But as a general rule I would not say colleges are just scamming people.

If I had to summarize what I think the problem is, I simply think the concept of "teaching" has gotten lost and has been replaced by "show a process and memorize." This not only hurts in terms of the subject matter of whatever class it is, but also hurts in terms of having no expectations that a student actually learn to think on their own, or for that matter, be responsible for themselves. I'm seeing a lot of problems with people just not being capable of having an independent thought and want their hands held. (That's a parenting problem as well.)

 January 12th, 2012, 06:33 AM #19 Math Team     Joined: Jul 2011 From: North America, 42nd parallel Posts: 3,372 Thanks: 234 Re: Confused Well, I'm not an expert, as i mentioned in a previous post, my brain is fried, but i can still analyse facts and form my own opinions. Fact: Private institutions charge way too much and don't provide a quality education worth the money they charge. They also make a lot of money from donations but it is not enough for the greedy arrogant bastards. With the amount of money they make from private donations alone,private colleges could be free of charge, they are not. It seems they are more interested in figuring out what the students are willing to pay for their education, not interested in how to make education better. Courses are constantly tweaked so that the pass rate falls somewhere between 50%-70% Fact: Public colleges make a lot more money from students than most people know. In addition to tuition (let's say $5000 per year) public colleges receive state and federal aid for every full time student enrolled. Roughly around$15000 so the total amount of money a public college makes off of a full time student (or full time equivalent FTE) is roughly 20000 per year. These numbers are rough estimates and funding changes from state to state. Also it is difficult to find info on this. I spoke with vice chancellor of CUNY when i was senator of math club. He explained funding issues to club officers on campus. His intention was to explain the tuition hikes cause he believed THE MONEY WASN'T ENOUGH! LOL I formed my own opinion. Had he known i was going to disagree with him he probably would not have informed us. The main idea is that public colleges do not maintain their existance from tuition. I would be surprised if tuition constitutes more than 20% of the total monetary intake. They squeeze the state and federal goverment as much as they can, then they squeeze the students. These are not the actions of a noble institution, but corrupt business practices. That's why i say colleges are run like a business, maximize profits-minimize cost. A student attending public college thinks he/she is paying tuition, not really, the student is paying a lot more than that and the quality of the instruction sucks, even more so when you figure out how much it's really costing you. Similarly at private institutions who make money from donations, you think you are paying $40000 per year but the college is making$200000 a year off of you, just by you being there. The quality of education also sucks there as well. Anyway, the numbers are rough guestimates but the points should be clear. Point: People are being robbed under the disguise of 'higher learning' Point: Learning institutions have strayed from the main focus of 'Academy' as envisioned by ancient philosophers and ressurected by renaissance philosophers.
 January 12th, 2012, 06:49 AM #20 Math Team     Joined: Jul 2011 From: North America, 42nd parallel Posts: 3,372 Thanks: 234 Re: Confused What i find very amusing is how they advertise 'small class sizes and 80% of professors employed here are Phd' but when you take the class it's usually an auditorium with hundreds of students and some graduate student teaching, you can't even get the Phd on the phone!. LOL Yeah, the upper level courses may have small class size but thats because most of the students are too busy being recycled in the lower level courses. Recycled and fleeced HAHAHAHAHA! Many of these Phd's don't speak the language and are not even on campus, probably engaged in '''research''' in another part of the world. Yet, the colleges use the fact of this so called 'employment' to boost their credibility and draw suckers like moths to a flame. HAHAHA-HAAAA!

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