Thursday, May 5, 2011

The view from academia

XKCD gets it again:

Yesterday I spent three hours talking with former students who were seeking letters of recommendation. Excellent students, they're each getting a "top 5%" letter, but I was amused by how different they are from each other. Typical for UC Davis, one is a caucasian, multi-generation resident of California; one is south asian, 2nd generation; and the other is an immigrant from north Africa. They're each really smart, but I feel like their outstanding performances have widely different origins--one is moved by curiosity for the material itself, one seems to see the material as something that must be absorbed in order to get to a desired goal, and one sees it as a challenge that needs to be bested in single combat. Gotta love diversity.

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