February 19, 2010

Do you really need a minor in college? Some say no. Have your say.

Have you ever wondered if you minor is that important. You're not alone, even the New York Times has an article just on that subject. I am beginning the doubt the traditional wisdom that you need a minor...with some schools placing little emphasis on them and Yale not offering them. What do you think? [Note the Canadian Studies minor on the image below. :)]


What’s Your Minor?

Published: April 20, 2008

DO minors matter? I need to know — right now, please — because as my second daughter sits across the table compiling an “apply to” list that favors the sort of university that offers lots of them, I am writing checks totaling $46,180 for a child at a college with no minors.

Tuition-paying parents get a little nervous without a focused student.

“Parents sometimes feel they’re getting their money’s worth if their child has a major and a minor,” confirms Laura Avila, assistant director of undergraduate advising at the University of Washington in Seattle, which offers about 100 minors. But not all colleges offer them, and most of the rest don’t require them.

Tara Stopfel, assistant dean for academic advising at the University of Cincinnati, explains: “Whether a minor is important really depends on a student’s reasons for wanting one.”


I can’t remember what my minor was. Or, come to think of it, if I even had one. In those days, a secondary area of study was usually either an afterthought or evidence of an abandoned major.

A generation later, minors have more cachet, for practical and theoretical reasons. “A minor is a hidden weapon,” says Joe Cuseo, an author of “Thriving in College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development.” “It can be a good marketing tool, or it can be a way to explore a second interest and still graduate in a reasonable time.”

Minors, along with double majors, are increasingly popular as students try to master multiple subjects on the way to flexible careers or future education. “Students understand that a minor can give them better leverage in the job search after college,” says Ms. Stopfel; at her university, students with minors “probably have doubled within the past five years or so.”

“You’ve heard of diversifying a financial portfolio,” she says. “Well, we say a minor can diversify your educational portfolio.”

Having a secondary area of study can signal to a job interviewer that you have concrete expertise, especially in business or a foreign language. It can also set you apart from all the other graduate school applicants.

Graduate admissions officers are just the sort of people who are likely to read your transcript thoroughly, and a minor could indicate you did more work than the average undergraduate.

“We are running out of the traditional tools with which superb students can sort of document how good they are,” says Barmak Nassirian, spokesman for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “It used to be enough that you graduated from X, Y or Z university with summa cum laude. But now instead of separating you from the crowd, summa cum laude is the crowd. Some students are resorting to double degrees, two majors, majors and two minors, the sort of degree accomplishments that would have been unnecessary a generation or two ago.”


A minor is a quicker path to a specialization than a double major. While requirements vary widely among institutions, completing a minor generally takes about half the coursework of a major. A history major at Georgetown, for instance, must take at least 11 history courses; a minor in history requires six. At Bentley College in Massachusetts, finance majors complete eight finance courses; a minor requires four.


Minors can either counterbalance or complement a main area of study.

“Think of it as declaring an interest and specialty that you wouldn’t necessarily have if all you had was a collection of electives,” says Mr. Cuseo. “If your passion is English or art, and you’re worried about whether that’s going to be practical enough, a minor in computer science or business increases your marketability.”

Similarly, a biology major with a business minor may look attractive to a biotech startup.

Many colleges are creating minors that integrate academics with life after graduation. “We’re trying to break away from the silo-ed experience and broaden students’ context of the world,” says Ms. Avila. At the University of Washington, for example, students pursuing minors in disability studies and in diversity take courses in class, gender and race issues. At the University of California, Los Angeles, undergraduates may choose among 76 minors, including the interdisciplinary “civic engagement” and “environmental systems and society,” as well as the more traditional English and mathematics.


Is it too much to ask that young people develop the necessary skills to become gainfully employed one day?

Many academic advisers say it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture. The liberal arts argument holds that undergraduates should explore broadly, and a minor channels a student into a less varied course of study.

“Both premature and overrated,” John R. Thelin, a professor of education at theUniversity of Kentucky and author of “A History of American Higher Education,” says of minors. “Let’s say you have an undergraduate specialization in physics. That doesn’t mean you’re ready to work as a physicist.”

Yale has majors but no minors. Joseph W. Gordon, dean of undergraduate education, explains: “We definitely believe that concentration in the sense of learning one subject and going at it from an introductory to an intermediate to an advanced to an independent level is important, a hallmark of university education.

“But, we share the liberal arts philosophy that breadth is equally important and that people should explore and learn about all kinds of things.”

Faculty members, though, have recently proposed that the committee on majors look into offering minors, Mr. Gordon says. “The one advantage I’ve heard people say is that instead of having a miscellany of courses, a minor organizes the choices.”

Colleges without minors may offer another way to pursue a secondary focus.

Students at Williams, for example, can declare a concentration in one of about a dozen interdisciplinary topics — including Jewish studies, Latino studies and environmental studies — in programs that don’t offer majors. In the past five years, the number of students who have graduated with at least one concentration has more than doubled, says James G. Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs.

Still others, like Bennington, where my daughter is a freshman, eschew the whole system. Students develop their own programs of study, creating not just unofficial minors but unofficial majors as well. I’ll be excited to see whether my other daughter chooses a similar college or one with a more traditional approach. And even more excited to learn how much it will cost.

Michelle Slatalla writes the Cyberfamilias column for The Times.

February 17, 2010

The only time the NB Legislature will ever be featured on TMZ: The Leader of the Conservative Party was caught with His Pants on the Ground

'Pants on the Ground' Used in Political Attack

The "Pants on the Ground" phenomenon has infiltrated the Canadian government -- where one member of the legislative assembly broke out in song to attack a member from a rival political party.

T.J.: Burke: Click to watch
It all went down Friday morning inside the New Brunswick Legislature -- when veteran politician
T.J. Burke used "General" Larry Platt's theme song to explain how an opposition member had been caught with his "pants on the ground" during a recent radio interview.

Details aside -- it's just funny.

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2010/01/25/pants-on-the-ground-canada-politics-politician-american-idol/#ixzz0fqr16iLk

If you haven't heard about Pants on the Ground...it's quite possibly the best song ever sung about "people pulling thier pants up",

And you thought American Political Discourse was uncivilized...

And I thought NB politics was boring...

Apparently a lot of people are in support of the Liberal MLA from Saint John/Lancaster even though his "unparliamentary like-conduct" (giving the finger to another member and threatening physical violence) got him suspended for three days. Unlike even the most partisan politicians in the, LeBlanc has not and apparently will not apologize for his gesture and statements. From CBC News:

N.B. MLA expelled for rude gesture

Last Updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010 | 5:30 PM AT

Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc gives the finger to a Tory MLA during a heated exchange in the N.B. legislature.Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc gives the finger to a Tory MLA during a heated exchange in the N.B. legislature. (CBC)

Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc was expelled from the New Brunswick legislature Thursday for extending his middle finger at an Opposition MLA.

The member for Saint John Lancaster made the gesture at Rothesay Progressive Conservative MLA Margaret-Ann Blaney after question period.

The house Speaker, Roy Boudreau, called on LeBlanc to either apologize or leave. LeBlanc opted to leave.

'Yes, I gave you [the finger]. And I'll give you that again. And I'll give you this if you want to go outside.'—Abel LeBlanc, Saint John Lancaster MLA

It's unclear how long the suspension will last.

Premier Shawn Graham told reporters he was extremely disappointed with LeBlanc's actions.

"It's totally unacceptable," Graham said.

Graham wouldn't say whether LeBlanc will be suspended from the Liberal caucus, but he said he thought the Speaker's punishment was appropriate.

Accused of heckling

The incident occurred after Opposition house leader Paul Robichaud accused LeBlanc of repeatedly heckling Blaney.

"It happens all the time, Mr. Speaker … I believe that this is enough," Robichaud said during a point of order.

"We heard enough of those kinds of insults coming from the MLA for Saint John Lancaster, and I believe, Mr. Speaker, the MLA for Saint John Lancaster should apologize to the MLA for Rothesay."

Boudreau urged everyone to behave.

"We're talking here about respect and decorum toward everybody in the house — men or women," he said. "I know it becomes very boisterous at times, very emotional at times, but respect is No. 1."

Moments after Boudreau finished speaking, there were audible gasps from the Progressive Conservatives.

"Oh my, God — he just gave the finger," someone exclaimed.

"That's enough," said another. "I saw it!"

Robichaud complained again, but LeBlanc refused to apologize.

"I'll not apologize in this house for that young lady over there," he said, before accusing Blaney of telling lies about Saint John-Fundy MLA Stuart Jamieson.

Jamieson was asked to step down as tourism minister on Friday for suggesting the controversial deal between NB Power and Hydro-Qu├ębec should go to a referendum.

LeBlanc did not elaborate on the alleged lies before extending his middle finger again at another Tory MLA and shaking his fist.

"I'm gonna tell you, Dale [Graham, Tory MLA for Carleton], I'll walk outside with any one of yas here," LeBlanc said. "Don't ever laugh at me. Yes, I gave you that. And I'll give you that again. And I'll give you this if you want to go outside. You're a punk!"

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/02/11/nb-abel-leblanc-finger.html#ixzz0fqme8Mr5

The Performer's Company Presents Arsenic and Old Lace in Sackville, New Brunswick

Arsenic and Old Lace, a black comedy written by Joseph Kesselring in 1939, was performed at Live Bait Theatre this past weekend (February 10-14, 2010). It was well done production by the cast and crew. Teddy Brewster and Dr. Einstein were especially well acted. Fellow Mount Allison Student Aja Cooper also gets a special mention for the exceptional Props and Set Dressing/Decor. One of the few plays I've been able to see at the small town theater and hopefully I'll have the chance to see whatever they put on next. Like most events these days it was advertised through Facebook. Even with a just a few posters around town and the facebook group the play managed to almost sell out with their last performance on Valentine's Day.

Abby Brewster - Sue Rose
Mrs Harper - Lea Foy
Teddy Brewster - Leif Haugen-Strand
Martha Brewster - Shelby Dolan
Mortimer Brewster - Jeffrey O'Hara
Elaine Harper - Rebecca Guilderson
Jonathan Brewster - Rob Downey
Dr Helga Einstein - Hilary Avery
Officer O'Hara - Derrek Poole
Lieutenant Rooney - Sandy Burnett
Officer Klein - Karissa Gaudreault
Officer Brophy - Diante Richard
Mr. Gibbs - Doug Maclean
Mr. Witherspoon - Scot Kimbal

Director - Stephen Puddle
Production Manager - Stephen Puddle
Stage Manager - Karissa Gaudreault
Script Supervisor - Amy MacKay
Costumes - Melody Petlock & Sue Rose
Props - Aja Cooper
Set Construction - TBA
PR - Sandy Burnett
Artwork - Sue Rose & Fraser Orr-Brown
Set Dressing/Decor - Aja Cooper
Front of House - TBA
Lighting - Ron Kelly-Spurles

From the Live Bait website:

Performers’ Company Announces a Recipe for Murder and Merriment

The Performers’ Company, Sackville’s popular community theatre group will present, as its first production of 2010, the ever-popular suspense-comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Performances are scheduled to take place at Live Bait Theatre, February 10 – 14, 2010.

The play, which was written by American playwright Joseph Kesselring, premiered in New York in January, 1941. Its successful three-and-a-half year run on Broadway was followed in 1944 by a highly popular film adaptation directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant.

Set in Brooklyn NY, the action takes place at the home of the Brewster sisters, Abby and Martha, two elderly spinsters who delight in the self-appointed charitable task of helping “lonely gentlemen“ to find a final resting-place. They are aided in their good works by their nephew Teddy, an eccentric who is convinced that he is President Theodore Roosvelt, Also living in the Brewster mansion is Mortimer, a second nephew, who works as a theatre critic and who has been selected as a good prospect for marriage by Elaine, the only daughter of the Reverend Dr. Harper, who lives next door.

Complications arise with the arrival of a third nephew, Jonathan, the black sheep of the family, accompanied by the strangely gifted Dr. Einstein, a plastic surgeon who specializes in facial makeovers for wanted criminals. It is their intention to set up a clinic in the ancestral Brewster home. Add to the mix a squad of comically incompetent police officers and you have a formula for a farcical evening of laughter and excitement.

“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a perennial favourite among professional and amateur theatre companies alike. The Performers’ Company production will be directed by Stephen Puddle and features Sue Rose as Aunt Abby, Shelby Dolan as Aunt Martha, and Leif Haugen-Strand, Jeffrey O’Hara, and Rob Downey as their three nephews, Teddy, Mortimer and Jonathan. Other cast members include Hilary Avery as Dr. Einstein, Rebecca Guilderson as Elaine, and Derrek Poole, Nicholas Jarche and Diante Richard as the comic cops.

“One of the strengths of The Performers’ Company is our ability to draw on talent from across the whole community,” says artistic director Puddle. “Both the cast and the technical crew for this play benefit from the involvement of high school and university students as well as adult residents of Sackville. As our past productions have shown, the range of skills available in this town is truly remarkable.”

The Performers’ Company seeks to provide rewarding opportunities for actors, backstage technicians and audiences alike by presenting plays of proven worth and popularity. Past productions have included Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”, Noel Coward’s “Hayfever” and Ronald Harwood’s “The Dresser.”