Life School

Back to school …

So, Torri and I were having this discussion over lunch in San Rafael with Marc Dollinger (Professor at SFSU) last fall about graduation rates and the impact of work and living on campus. Torri teaches Mathematics at a public charter school in Redwood City and mentors a group of ~17 students who are seniors this year. So, in essence, in her school’s model she becomes the de facto college counselor to these kids. Torri wanted Marc’s advice about what path she could advise her kids to take in college (work vs no work, live on campus vs live at home).

Interestingly Marc had recently been reviewing the data. It turns out attending school full time is the best way to finish. Living on campus can help if there are residual demands of the family. Work can help as long as it is very part time. In terms of graduation rates he broke it down as follows: full time students at SFSU tend to finish in 4-5 years depending on major and class availability. Part time students who haven’t finished by year 7 tend not to ever finish their degrees. By year 10 or so, almost no one ever finishes.

Driving home to San Carlos, it took me until about 280 and 92 to have it click. I would go back to school and finish my degree! I told Torri I had just decided to finish my degree. The look of what the fuck has gotten into you was quickly followed by the question: “You haven’t cared about that at all in the entire time I’ve known you. Why now?”

So, I explained: If I go back now and finish (30 years to the semester I left SFSU the first time), I will be added to the data set. We know from Marc that they pull the data to evaluate the very questions you asked him. Therefore, when they pull the data, there will be at least one data point that will be an extreme outlier. Statisticians should at least look at the outlier to determine if they should exclude it from their analysis. They will see my name. I will achieve a sort of outlier immortality.

Torri looked at me with a bit of disgust (and secret admiration) and said as she laughed: “That seems like a very Alex reason to go back to school.”

104%. Outliers.

It got me thinking, as long as I am in school, I should start writing more regularly. So, here we go.

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