Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Concord - classes & shit

This Wednesday begins my 13th semester at Concord University. Let that sink in for a moment. Do the math in your head. Yes, I'm halfway through my seventh year as a college student. If I hadn't taken the spring 2010 semester off, this would have been my 14th semester. So, yeah, I've been here for a while. Haven't accomplished much, but that's slowly changing.

Classes start Wednesday. I have a total of 4 hours of classes. That wasn't my intent, as I picked out 15 or 16 hours of classes. The classes were full. I'm going to try to fix that situation in the next couple days.

The only 2 classes I have were in my major. That's one of the benefits of having one of the smallest (and possibly lamest) majors at Concord - the classes are never full. There's nothing wrong with my major itself, Communication Arts. To avoid confusion, I usually just say "journalism" when people ask me what I'm majoring in. Communication Arts isn't a bad major, I just don't think Concord was the best place to go to major in it.

I was a very naive 17-year-old boy who thought you just went to college and they prepared you for your career, in whatever field that may be. I forgot to factor in things like quality of curriculum, professor turnover, campus politics, etc... Those 3 things, in addition to other factors, have really soured me on my decision to attend Concord University.

If 24-year-old Chris Slater could go back in time and have a conversation with 17-year-old Chris, would I tell myself to not attend Concord? I don't know. Probably not. I would have likely told myself to not fuck around and finish my degree with the professors I enjoyed, before they left and I got stuck with what I have now. And I probably would have told myself to not work so hard on the newspaper (at the expense of classwork), because nobody really gave a shit about it except me and a few others.

I reasoned it at the time by telling myself that I was making a name for myself. A reputation. Something that would live on in posterity. Nobody would remember that I failed English 203, but everybody would benefit from what I brought to the newspaper. That's how things worked - somebody would add some new feature to the paper, then somebody after would tweak it and add something new and the paper - and ultimately, the students - would benefit. I saw 4 great years of upward momentum and growth on the newspaper during my time there. I sacrificed some school work to work on the newspaper, but I saw it as being part of a greater good.

For some reason though, I was seen as a problem by others on the staff when I finally became Editor-in-Chief. It seemed like they couldn't wait to get me off of the staff and out of their hairs. I left the staff and everything I brought to the paper went with it. It's one thing to redesign the front page. Sometimes things need a facelift. It's another thing entirely to scrap every design idea and layout that previous generations worked hard on. I'm not just talking about me - every previous Editor from the previous 4 years, their contributions were gone as well.

That greater good I was sacrificing for, it was gone. I worked so hard to figure out what was best for the newspaper, what the next generation of student journalists could use and add upon, and it was thrown away.

Now, when people wonder why I'm a 7th year college student, all I can do is write about something that nobody knows about. "Really, the paper used to be respected?" Yeah, it did. I feel it is now, to a degree. But, nothing like it was when I was working my way up the ranks. People who attended Concord University during the 2008-2009 school year, you know what I'm talking about. The misinformation, the important stories not printed, the random big chunks of white space where it looked like stories were supposed to go. It just looked sloppy, and that was one of the things I worked hardest on - to present a "neat" product.

Somebody left a comment in a previous blog and I feel as though it sums up my reputation. It was one of the blogs about the last day of the fall 2010 semester, when classes should have been canceled and they weren't because of the snow. I wrote about how I was looking into that and somebody left a comment to the effect of "Why is everything some big journalistic endeavor? Who cares?"

I think that comment speaks volumes about the attitude at Concord. I care about journalism at a school where most people don't care. There's a few. But, for the most part, I feel as though Concord does not care about journalism. But, that's just me. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope so.

But anyway, the semester starts this week. I'm going to try and get the classes that I need. I have a projected Fall 2011 graduation date that I'm working toward. I'm going to do what I should have been doing all along - focusing more on class and worrying less about everything else.


  1. Hey Chris,
    Great blog, as usual. I was part of your newspaper staff for several semesters, and I have to say that I have learned more from you and Ms. Peck than I have in any other classes I've taken at Concord.

    That's kind of sad when you think about it. It was great that I was so well prepared for my News Reporting classes, but isn't the point of a class to LEARN? I had already learned almost everything from those classes from having the Concordian workshop with you.

    I think Concord needs to develop more majors instead of having to lump people into a category that isn't really what they're trying to study. We were trying to be journalists. I'm an English major and you're a Communications major. Doesn't make much sense. I just hope for future generations they'll actually establish a journalism degree.

    You did something as an editor that I wish I could have done for my staff when I was editor. You took the time to individually show people their strengths and weaknesses and how to make their writing better. I tried to balance my focus between classes and the newspaper, but I feel like I didn't give my staff the attention they deserved.

    Honestly, if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have the interest in journalism that I do today. So don't ever doubt that you haven't had an impact on Concord. You can't have much control on the direction the newspaper will go in the future, but for the time you were involved, you made a huge difference. But now it's almost time for a new chapter and new chances to make a bigger impact.

    Just graduate already so you can go make it happen =)

  2. Thank you. I'm sure you know by now you were my favorite staff member to work with, both when you were on my staff & when I was on yours :)

    But yeah, there's major problems with some of the majors at Concord (see what I did there lol). Hopefully things can get fixed to some degree, just to ease up on any potential confusion.