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Today's word on journalism

May 12, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Back to school: College dropouts often return and find success

By David Bowman

May 4, 2009 | LOGAN -- When Bryce Chamberlain, 23, started college he didn't know that he would be dropping out later on to join a band, but he did and doesn't regret it.

"I'm glad I took a break from school. Of course if the band did work out I wouldn't be here right now. I'd be with them," Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain dropping out didn't come without a price, however. The semester he dropped out "was the worst I had ever done," he said. He dropped out after midterms and received Fs in almost all of his classes.

Students drop out of college for many reasons. The most common of these is a bad semester. A bad semester is when a student received low grades on assignments and/or on tests and they may feel that they are going to get kicked out of school so they drop out.

"We don't want them to drop out if they are receiving low grades or are failing classes," Beth Walden, student counselor, said. "We want the students to come to talk to us and we can help them come up with the best course of action."

"A student has to earn their way back into school if they have been placed on suspension," Walden said.

A student that has received low grades for more than one semester in a row may be suspended. A suspension lasts a year and students are required to remain in contact with a student counselor during the suspension and for some time after they have been re-enrolled. The most common years that students drop out are the freshman and sophomore years.

"Unlike my friends in high school, I didn't go straight to college," Vince Baker, 25, said. "I had a good job and I didn't want to lose it. When I did decide to go to college I was 22 and my first semester went really well, then the second semester happened."

Baker dropped out of Weber State University after receiving low grades in his second semester. "I'm not really planning on going back to school but, I might, it's not completely out the window yet," he said.

Tricia Brown, 47, left school after her sophomore year because she was pregnant. Her husband continued to go to school while she stayed home and took care of their baby.

"After my divorce I decided that I wanted to go back to school and finish. So I took my three kids with me to Logan and went back to Utah State," Brown said.

Since she has come back to school, Brown has received her bachelor's in social science from Utah State University, and a master's in criminal law from Weber State University.

"It wasn't easy; I had to re-learn everything that I had forgotten and doing so while raising three kids was hard. But I made it and I feel a set a good example for my kids to follow," Brown said.

"The student success rate has been fairly high this school year from those who have re-enrolled," Debra Reece, student counselor, said. "This school year we have seen 80 percent of the re-enrolled students do better than they had when they left. They come back to school more prepared and ready for what will be coming at them and that could very well be the reason why we are seeing such a great returning student success rate."

"I'm glad that I'm almost done and I can't wait to start making some real money when I graduate," Chamberlain said. Chamberlain took a year-long break and is back in school at Utah State after his band fell through. He has one more year to go before he graduates with a major in mathematics and he said he's "stoked!"


Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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