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Brought to you by the letters G, R, and E

My mother refers to the SAT and ACT as the 'sat' and 'act' tests. She has not managed to do the same for the GRE (probably because I've only slightly referenced it to her). But I look forward to hearing her encouragement about the greeeee.

I am devouring vocabulary - FreeRice, baby - and scared spitless of the math portion. I haven't done math since high school. I find it fun and challenging, but I am really not up to speed. Tomorrow I'm going to go visit my high school, specifically to say hi to my math teacher, and hopefully she will have words of wisdom. Or words of something.

The writing portions as well. I know I am a good writer, it's just the uncertainty beforehand that is making me jittery. ETS is even nice enough to post all of the prompts online...but there's several hundred of them, not really anything I can prep for. I need study guides, oh yes I do. Let's test-drive one of the argument essays for now though:

The following is a letter from a professor at Xanadu College to the college's president.

"The development of an extensive computer-based long-distance learning program will enhance the reputation of Xanadu College. This program would allow more students to enroll in our courses, thereby increasing our income from student tuition. Traditional courses could easily be adapted for distance learners, as was shown by the adaptation of two traditional courses for our distance learning trial project last year. Also, by using computer programs and taped lectures, faculty will have fewer classroom obligations and more time to engage in extensive research, thereby enhancing the reputation of Xanadu."

The willingness in education to embrace technology is a good thing; technology aids communication and ultimately enhances a student's understanding and participation in his or her course. This is the argument that the professor championing technology should be making; online classes and distance learning hold little or no prestige in the eyes of academics, and certainly would not do much to foster a better reputation for the university.

For-profit and online colleges have not gained much credibility partly because of the way in which we think about education: the "Ivory Tower" ideal, lofty and prestigious compared to mundane society. Conversely, online colleges cater to part-time and non-traditional students, often of a lower socio-economic status than traditional schools. Even the online course offerings at traditional schools have the unfortunate stigma of attracting unmotivated students and slackers (who want nothing more than to "attend class" in their pajamas). The decreased obligation of the professor to be in the classroom may seem more efficient, but it may also give the sense of the professor being absentee, or unsupportive of his or her students.

Some of the reception of online courses depends heavily on the area of study - for example, the liberal arts tend to invite more discussion-based classes, in which participation and communication of ideas not only with the professor but also with one's peers is crucial. Online courses have a greater potential of isolating students, who may not get to know their peers and thus discussions or study groups are stunted.

On the other hand, of course, technology and hypertext offer new possibilities for learning, allowing for dissemination of information in a more efficient and personalized way. Therefore online material should be integrated into curricula, according to the needs of each class. But to strive for entirely online courses such as the Xanadu professor is proposing would not bring about the entirely positive consequences which were anticipated.

Think I should do one of these every night? Or alternate between argument and issue topics. I'm planning to take the GRE early August, so I'll have time to re-take it September/October if necessary. Plus, if I take it here my location is in Anaheim (which is a little bit of an inconvenience to get to); if I wait until I'm back in Pennsylvania my nearest location is in Harrisburg (which is a hell of an inconvenience. Plus I'd need to find transportation. Unless SU offers it but I don't believe so). I don't know, I don't know. I am keeping busy, at least