Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mathematically Challenged

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.


At 2:50 PM, Blogger Preya said...

Haha, your blog cracks me up. I love reading about your Woodstock/Mussoorie experiences. I remember wishing we had a cable car as well. I only managed to get out of hiking up once when I got sick and was allowed to take a taxi up:) It would be so fun to teach or volunteer at Woodstock for a year.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Emily said...

I feel your data pain. We lost about three weeks of comments on mental health leaflets and had to enter them by hand. Most were pretty dull (just ranking the site on different scales), but there are little comment sections, so we got everything from little high schoolers complaining that we (like Oprah, apparently) do not have an acceptable collection of pictures of anorexics for her to use in a project to old ladies writing massive comments on their mothers' illnesses and demanding that we tell them why her medication had been changed. And then not leaving contact details. It was much more interesting than answering phone calls all day, but I got too into it and ended up home for two days with eye strain headaches (dull..no tv, internet, or reading, and you're home sick so you feel guilty going out to shop).


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