My job for the Admissions Office right now is to collate a bunch of surveys given to all the new students in middle school and high school. They’re open-ended questions like “What did you most enjoy most about the first six weeks of school?” and I have to turn their open-ended—and frequently either virtually illegible, broken English, or both—answers into nice coherent data tables. I’ve been asked to collate them by grade, by school (middle school and high school) and for all new students.
That doesn’t sound so bad, right? And it’s not. It’s fun most of the time and the answers are entertaining. The kids don’t like the food—surprise surprise. And several have suggested putting in a cable car between the dorms and school. The wimps! One high school boy mentioned that what he looked forward to most at Woodstock was the girls. Hmmm.
Now, the problem arises with my, apparently rusty, math skills. I go through and do all the surveys by grade first. Then I collate all the middle school responses. Then I suddenly realize that the total number of responses for middle school doesn’t match the sum of the responses for 6th-8th grade. And then I curse. So I recalculate. Repeatedly. And suddenly I realize that I counted “our bedtime is too early” twice and all is well. Repeat for high school. More cursing, this time with flared nostrils and pursed lips. And finally it turns into a nice chart and graph set. But en route there is much grumpy mumbling. Luckily I work in the basement all alone.