I’m referring to students here. Once, when I was interviewing for a job in admissions, the director asked me what kinds of students I’d have a soft spot for. Because this was a fancy-pants liberal arts college in the Northeast, and I’m from the south, I said, Well, I’d be on the lookout for a kid from a small town in the South, who’s had to raise him or herself and 3 siblings and still made an A in AP Physics. Generally, I appreciate kids who’ve been through some stuff–a divorce, a death, an illness, a major job loss, a financially-strapped family, etc. In my current job, I’m often on the lookout for kids who don’t fit perfectly. I think there are clear paths for certain kids, kids who know they want to be a doctor or a lawyer. They have a collection of classes and extracurricular activities they need to participate in and excel at. And they often do. But there are kids who aren’t necessarily bad at those things, but they aren’t at the top either. Or they struggle more generally with “fitting in.” They have friends, but not a lot. They’re a little rough around the edges.
I really like those kids. Often, those kids are really good at techie kinds of things. They like to figure things out. They like trying and failing. And they keep trying. They end up with some really great stuff. I am, I must say, a bit protective of those kids. On numerous occasions over the last couple of months, when someone has said of a student that they’re struggling in x subject, I’m able to say, You should see their technology skills. Often the response to that is, Great, how can we take advantage of that?
What’s kind of sad to me, though, is that many kids still see technology and Computer Science as odd. It’s not as acceptable as Biology or Chemistry or Math or even Drama. It’s beyond the pale for some kids. I’m hoping very much to change that, while still remaining protective of those kids who are drawn to this discipline because they don’t fit anywhere else. At the very least, I’d like kids to see the power a little programming experience could give them as a Biologist, Chemist, even as a doctor.