Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Perks of being in Academia

Congratulations on landing a tenure-track faculty position in one of America's finest research universities! Maybe one day we will be colleagues in rival schools.

You can also start thinking about this soon. After all, it is good to hear that your (future) employer is one of those that provides tuition assistance and preferential admissions consideration to the Other Legacies: Fac Brats.

Imagine offering this carrot to your prospective bride: "I may not be as rich as my peers in Wall Street, but I can guarantee our kids a higher chance of getting admitted to this super-elite university and paying no college tuition for 4 years."

College towns are also islands of (economic) stability, and regularly rank amongst the best places to raise a family in the US.

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I think there are many advantages for exposing children to an academic environment early in their lives. They get *easy access* to some of the best facilities available - well-equipped libraries, sports complexes etc. If you are a faculty member in the engineering/physical/biological sciences, your children may get to see some of the most sophisticated (read: expensive) equipment and view for themselves what happens when you add X to Y, or how a yeast cell is like under the Atomic Force Microscope before and after budding, or how the fourth state of matter can be used to completely remove organic residues from a Si wafer.

For those who are more inclined towards the Arts, it doesn't hurt too to have them know your colleagues in the humanities departments.

They might get that edge when it comes to college applications time. What better than to be able to see what your child is up to in college? :)

(Note: This is NOT helicopter parenting.)

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I come from a family of teachers. There has always been an emphasis towards excelling in school. It's not just about getting an A, but about doing the best you can. If your best means being able to top the cohort and you failed, it doesn't matter even if you get a distinction for the subject. You would have disappointed the family. Conversely, if your predicted grade is a C but you get a B, it is considered an achievement worthy of praise.

That said, I always felt I was subject to a higher standard than my peers simply because my mum is a teacher. I am expected to do well.

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Does Steven Chu's family history sound very similar to the typical high-achieving Asian American family?

2 comments:

tong said...

I really enjoy reading your wen zhang.
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codfish said...

Imagine offering this carrot to your prospective bride

Hi - I've been lurking for a while (got here via -ben), and I can't help (and, truly, I say this in the friendliest way :-)) but be struck by the cynicism in some of your posts. Not everybody looks at the world in terms of carrots and sticks, not everybody counts costs and benefits. Some of us do still work very hard in reminding ourselves the value of value (if that makes sense), and remembering that love/r'ships aren't things tipped on a scale. It's hard, but keep the faith! :-)