(Author’s Note: Upon taking the dive to present a COAL series, it occurred to me life is a grand soap opera of sorts but with somewhat less melodrama and amnesia. JES)
It was February 1990 when all the talk came to a close. Well, what little talk there had been; I had jumped at the first real opportunity not knowing how long the offer may stand. But as has often been the case with me, making a quick decision turned out quite well.
This was when a stray 1989 Ford Mustang followed me home. It would see me through the most transitory time of my life – and there have been several transitory periods over the years.
Let me preface this automotive memoir by pointing out I was too young, at 17, and not mature enough for what I was about to
endure undertake. Context is everything and this needs context.
As my parents were the first in their families to attend college, they always presented formal education to me and my sister as something that would happen regardless. Similar to puberty and death, there was seemingly no escaping it.
I had zero desire to go. Life had endless possibilities and, being 17, these possibilities needed to be explored. What possibilities were there? Darned if I knew, but I certainly wanted to find out. Plus, I knew if such exploration was to ever happen, this was the optimum time for it.
Perhaps college would have been on my radar later in life but it wasn’t at that point in time. But suffice it to say I was steamrollered, so I started college in August 1990 at nearby Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.
Not wanting their firstborn to be ill-prepared for a journey in which he was profoundly disinterested, my parents said they would buy me a car as a tool for this endeavor. After a short look at a few candidates, and really wanting a 5.0 Mustang, I settled on a second choice of sorts – a 1989 Mustang with the mighty 2.3 liter four and a four-speed automatic. I truly did (do?) appreciate the car. For reference, this Mustang was obtained when I was 17 years, 5 months in age, three months shy of my high school graduation.
What about the other automotive candidates? Well, I knew with my father being the financier the spectrum of potential acquisitions would be pretty narrow. To him, GM was contemptible and anything with a brand from outside the US wasn’t durable, so the tea leaves were screaming Ford and Chrysler.
It came down between the Mustang and a significantly higher mileage white 1988 Chrysler LeBaron coupe. The Mustang checked my box and the four-cylinder portion checked my father’s box. A trip to Guetterman Motors in Cairo, Illinois, sealed the deal.
Also helping my decision was this being the only late model Mustang to be found that was neither red nor white.
On that magical day, Jason trotted home in his charcoal (so said Ford) colored Mustang notchback. It undoubtedly spent those first 15,000 miles in some rental fleet.
That fall I started college, using the Mustang to commute the twelve miles each way. Upon conclusion of my first day, I went home and announced “well, I’ve now been to college, it’s time for better things”. The look on my mother’s face was priceless. Yes, I do stick my finger in the figurative monkey cage.
I turned eighteen three weeks later.
As an aside, the reason for my college aversion is simple; with all the pro-college spiels poured over me, I had become skeptical. My entire life my parents had asserted how college was the key to success, blah, blah, blah. However, it took about 1.7 seconds to identify successful people who had not been to college and unsuccessful people who had been. Thus the various assertions were, to me, flawed and suspect. Naturally this was pointed out to them.
Such inconvenient observations were as welcome as a turd in a punchbowl.
As another aside, a few years ago I took a personality profile test called a DISC assessment, one of the better ones I have taken over the years. While everyone has traits of each, we all have a majority trait; my majority landed in the “D” zone, which reveals a person who is direct with statements and observations, also mixed with a sprinkle of impatience, and we generally don’t follow rules that make no sense to us. This directness is usually not appreciated by others, particularly those who don’t like being challenged – which is a distinct number of people.
This is mentioned to provide context for the rest of this series.
As yet another aside, I was due to register for the Selective Service in September 1990. For those outside the United States, all males in the US have to register at the post office (likely online now) within 30 days of turning 18. While the specifics aren’t coming to mind, it is a throwback to times when there was a military draft.
My registration was due right as Operation Desert Storm began; with rumors of the draft being reinstated there was a part of me that wondered if this might be an escape hatch – just not one I wanted.
For the time, the 2.3 in that Mustang was one of the better four-pots I had experienced, but that’s still not saying much. By May 1990, I had driven several Ford Escorts, K-cars, a Mazda pickup, a Nissan Sentra, and my father’s 1988 Ford Tempo. The OHC 2.3 (as opposed to the pushrod 2.3 in the Tempo) had tolerable off-the-line punch with that automatic but all the fun and merriment left the engine room at 3,000 rpm. When one’s power band is that narrow, and only in the two lowest gears, you learn to adapt and improvise while having your patience tested relentlessly.
The Mustang did not fall into the “D” quadrant above where it says “just do it”. That poor, well-meaning car didn’t just do anything regarding momentum with any sense of rapidity. Even the brakes weren’t that awe-inspiring.
The “maybe…someday…eventually” mentality of that 2.3 facilitated my not purchasing anything with a four-banger for nearly a quarter-century.
I commuted from my home on the Illinois side of Cape Girardeau for four semesters. The Mustang did its thing – unexciting, but reliable. The one trick I quickly learned was if one was so bold as to pass anyone, it was wise to turn off the air-conditioner as it gave the galloping Mustang at least another five crucially needed horsepower. Ford should have named these half-engined Mustangs “Tennessee Walking Horse” – they looked good, but sprinting wasn’t their thing.
The fall of 1992 saw me transferring to the University of Missouri – Rolla, UMR. At that time my major was going to be mechanical engineering; I figured if prison inmates can better themselves during their incarceration, I could also. I changed majors to civil engineering in August after working for the Illinois Department of Transportation that summer. The project I worked on, a 5 mile total relocation of Illinois Route 3 in Alexander County, was in the grading phase at that time. It was an ideal introduction to civil engineering.
As still yet another aside, various alumni from UMR include six astronauts, a slew of generals, and a host of politicians. Another student during my time at UMR was some guy named Jack Dorsey; it appears he has found a modicum of success despite never having graduated.
Some comments over time have made mention of the Midwest being flat; that’s painting with a very broad brush. The elevation in Cape Girardeau is 384 feet and the elevation of Rolla, 154 miles away, is 1,184. Granted that is nothing compared to the American West nor is it a constant climb – there is an abundance of climbing with descents, only to repeat itself. My preferred route, seen above, skirted through the St. Francois Mountains (seen below) and it was up, down, turn, down, turn, up, turn, up, turn, down, up…you get the idea.
For all my trips along this route, that Mustang consistently gave all it could. But sometimes giving your all isn’t enough as that poor under-endowed pony required (or dare I say “thrived on”?) being flogged every mile of the way. By the time I parted ways with the Mustang, there was considerable wear on the carpet under the accelerator pedal due to my foot being on the firewall so consistently. The 2.3 was rated at 88 horsepower but it seems some of those ponies were a bit less ambitious than others. The automatic was likely an accomplice to this, also.
I quickly discovered the best way to drive the Mustang in hilly terrain was to simply keep my foot planted on the floor. That was the sole method of not falling far below the speed limit when going uphill. This was also an act of being considerate; there were often drivers behind me and nothing creates frustration like a rolling roadblock.
The Mustang handled the twisty roads with reasonable aplomb; I have always wondered how much the suspension in these differed from the 5.0 models. Yet the Mustang does deserve credit – it was always comfortable and the seat upholstery wore like cast iron.
Upon moving to Rolla my parents began having major squabbles; for whatever reason I got to be an intermediary way too much. It was prompting weekly trips back to the Cape Girardeau area, a lot of driving while I was there, and not much time for why I had moved to Rolla – and I had evolved to the point where college was infinitesimally less repellent and loathsome. By December, my grades reflected my being distracted. I only had to repeat one class, so there was a positive to be found.
My third semester at Rolla found me in a structural analysis class. It was a five credit-hour course, taught by a new professor who had already managed to build an undesirable reputation. However, in retrospect, he meant well but had the entirely wrong approach. With the family garbage going on, I didn’t have time for this class, plus his methodology was lacking, so I dropped it.
When visiting his office to get the paperwork signed, he asked why. Having disclosed there were personal matters to address I politely mentioned his picking people out in class for public interrogation was doing him a disservice. I reminded him this was new material for everyone, yet he was compelled to call out and relentlessly probe people who were trying to comprehend what they had just heard. He asked why that was wrong. Not holding back, but remaining polite, I told him he tended to choose those who most appeared to be struggling with the material and this public embarrassment approach made him look like an asshole.
For perspective, a third of the original class had dropped this course by the time I did. There was no alternate instructor; this course had only one class per semester.
He was apoplectic. I told him he had potential as an instructor, but his methods needed polish. In disbelief, he signed the paper and I left. By the time I graduated three years later his reputation had changed, he was winning teaching awards at the university, and he always spoke when he saw me. Despite wanting to think I played some role in his transformation, it would be wrong to assume I did.
This led to a sizable part of my time in Rolla being anything but enjoyable. Too many family distractions while trying to get settled in plus adjusting to the dynamics of a different university all took a toll on this then-20 year-old. Yet, as previously stated, I knew things could have been a whole lot worse.
It would have really been worse had I believed all the fecal-laden sales pitches about college; I would have been wallowing in disappointment for a decade.
One can only have their optimism bombarded for so long before it starts to become dulled. The never ending drama and other garbage caught up with me as one humbling day I realized all these disclosed (and many undisclosed) events had me wishing time away. I realized my constant search for tomorrow and not making the best of the moment. It was a scary realization.
So it was time to make the best of it all.
Part of this meant driving that Mustang all over the place, exploring the area around Rolla and beyond. I drove that Mustang to several trout hatcheries in the region, visited local wineries (where I discovered the virtues of blueberry wine), explored the Lake of the Ozarks area, and used it on my less frequent trips back to the Cape area.
One of those weekends in Cape found me visiting a friend and his fiancee. The fiancee had a female friend at her apartment; a tall, slender brunette, she made an impression on me. However, there was no immediate spark as for some inexplicable reason my sister was with me. The brunette, I later learned, thought my sister was my girlfriend.
The Mustang continued to transport me back and forth through college and into a new career. Its repair needs were minimal but annoying. The thermostat was stuck open from about the time I had it; I just figured it had crummy heat. This was discovered / realized a few years into my ownership. Later, something in the steering column broke, rendering the blower motor and turn signals inoperative. At some point a noise developed in the rear axle, the result of a seal having come apart.
In the 80,000 miles I put on the Mustang, the spark plugs were changed every time the odometer read a multiple of 30,000. Every time, in each cylinder, the electrodes had a quarter-round shape. I’ve never seen anything similar since. Fuel mileage was nothing stellar, often around 22 mpg.
My last transitory experience with the Mustang was when I moved to Jefferson City the first time in January 1996. It snowed heavily during the first day of my new job. Leaving work, located in the middle of town, I fought the snow and local traffic to return to my newly rented duplex. Given its four-cylinder engine, the weight distribution on that Mustang was quite good, making it deceptively good in the snow. But it wasn’t perfect.
When going down the mild hill toward the turnoff to my street, I slid past my turn. Not thinking things through, I simply attempted to turn around in the driveway of a nearby house. For whatever reason, I could not back up but discovered I could go forward. Again not applying much thought, I turned the wheel to the right, mashed the throttle, and drove through a corner of their front yard (a stupid, yet pragmatic, move), dropped over the curb, and got back on the street. I hot-footed it back to my duplex and parked in the garage.
How I didn’t get stuck is beyond comprehension, but, as it always did, the Mustang pulled through for me. That is worthy of tremendous respect.
Having a new job, with a decent income, I soon realized I was no longer on a search for tomorrow. So in April 1996 I went car shopping to celebrate; also, the noise in the rear axle had reappeared. What I would special order was twice the car, with twice the engine, and it netted me the same, to better, fuel mileage.
But first we have a mild diversion…
(Note: Search For Tomorrow aired on CBS from September 3, 1951 to March 26, 1982; the following Monday it began airing on NBC until the show concluded on December 26, 1986. Ironically, that is the day I took possession of my 1963 Ford Galaxie, which has been covered extensively on these pages.)
A related and prior COAL about my 1975 Ford Thunderbird, purchased while I had the Mustang, can be found here.
Nice story, in my teenage years I owned a pair of foxbodies as well. The lack of power of the 2.3 is very relatable, I had a European spec Fairmont Futura in great condition which was sadly equipped with the 2.3 and four on the floor. Oversteer rarely occurred, but despite having the lightest engine it did have more understeer than my Chevelle with bad tires in the front. I wish I still had it, I would drop a 302 in it and do something about the suspension.
I fall mostly into the red “I” on that personality test, but somewhat into the yellow “C”.
I’d like the Mustang better if it were one of the earlier four-eye models, whose interior I prefer. I contemplated buying a new Mustang LX 5.0 hatchback the first time I could afford one in 1987, as well as a Buick Regal Limited with the 3.8T engine (for that one year only you could order a Regal with essentially all the mechanical parts from the Grand National in a base Regal or a Broughamed-out Limited; of course I wanted the latter with red velour pillowy seats that nobody would suspect could outrun a Porsche). But I decided blowing nearly all of my money on a new car wasn’t a good idea so I kept my ’82 Pontiac J2000 going a bit longer. Had some good times with several friends with Fox-body Mustangs, including one of my best friends from middle school through college who had a circa-85 white notchback with the 2.3L, and a college friend with a post-facelift grey GT 5.0. Also someone I don’t remember well with a rare ’79 2.8L Cologne V6, and – does this count? – someone else from the same place with a black Fox Capri (don’t know which drivetrain it had).
Agree that the four-eye Fox Mustangs had a better look about them.
In any event, it seems like the Fox Mustang was the most successful (to date) of the line, and the lo-po, 2.3L coupe version (often referred to as a ‘trunk’) was a huge part of that. It was distinctive, but it was a lot easier to see it as just a smaller, 2-door Fairmount than calling the original Mustang just a 2-door Falcon. I’d attribute that to the Fox missing some of the well-known Mustang styling cues, most notably in the quarter panels that lacked either a brake scoop or upper curve bulge at the beltline. All Foxes had a straight belt line and no scoop. Even though it was somewhat mundane, I can’t disparage the styling too much since sales stayed pretty healthy.
It’s telling that throughout its long production, there was only one major refresh to the Fox, and it was just to add flush headlights and different taillights.
I remember the Fox Mustang when it was new, and it was almost shockingly European-style for an American car, especially a Ford. Recall that when these first were shown in late 1978, it shared showrooms with basket-handle Thunderbirds, huge LTDs and LTD IIs, and the original Granada. After five years of the Mustang II, we were burned out on “retro” cues that you mentioned, all of which the MII had. Most Fox Mustangs didn’t even have the prancing horse logo. It carried over the long-hood/short deck/low roof proportions, but threw away all the other stylistic baggage. By the time the Foxstang was nearing the end of its very long run, the first-gen Mustangs had become valuable classics and stylistic cues evocative of the early cars were fashionable again.
Yeah, by the time the Foxstang arrived, Lee Iacocca was out at Ford (the lackluster sales of the Pinto-based, heavily retro Mustang II almost certainly helped his ouster), and the original retro Mustang styling cues went with him.
Hank the Deuce was also effectively gone not much after Iacocca, and Don Peterson and Jack Telnack were now calling the shots at Ford, with cars like the all-new Foxstang, aero Thunderbird, and Taurus being the successful results.
The Fox Mustang was an enduring, good design that lasted for an astonishing 15 years. But everything is cyclicle and, sure enough, the retro styling touches returned when the all-new SN95 Mustang arrived in 1994 (and ‘really’ came back with a vengeance in 2005 with the S-197 Mustang).
“[…the lackluster sales of the Pinto-based, heavily retro Mustang II almost certainly helped his ouster…]”
I thought that the Mustang II was an unqualified sales success and only with hindsight has been villified by enthusiasts?
The Mustang II was a sales success, particularly in its first year (1974) when 385,993 cars found buyers – that’s way up from the 130,000 or so they sold each of the two previous years. It was the year of the OPEC oil squeese and long lines at gas pumps, and a small, economical, but reasonably sporty and luxurious car (compared to Pintos, Vegas, Gremlins, and Beetles anyway) struck a chord with buyers. Mustang II sales for the remaining four model years hovered around 180,000, but that’s still better than any year since 1989. Mustang sales have cracked 100,000 only twice in the last 14 years. Even the Mustang II’s biggest detractors (and there are many amongst Mustang fans) give the MII credit for doing one important thing – selling well enough to ensure there would be a successor, allowing the Fox body and later versions up to this day to exist.
If memory serves, the “I” was my secondary trait with the “C” being rather low.
It’s good you got some perspective among the various versions of Fox-body Mustangs. I rode in an ’87 or ’88 GT exactly once and it was the polar opposite of that ’89.
I found the “sport seats” in the GT to be much less comfortable (and not much more supportive in cornering) than the LX seats, which I would have liked more back support from but otherwise were very comfortable. The adjustable leg supports always stuck into the inside of my knees, and the backrest was shaped all wrong for me. And the cloth upholstery was scratchy (and unattractive) compared to the LX velour.
If I hadn’t ridden in one of these extensively as a young man, I would think you were exaggerating its glacial acceleration. My neighborhood friend had an ’88 hatchback with automatic, and my parents an ’88 5.0 convertible. The difference in acceleration was…uh…name a magnitude that has to do with interstellar travel, and that’s it. It’s probably good that his car was sooooooo slow, because he was a risk-taking type and he likely would have wadded it up within weeks, although he was a good driver.
But I remember being shocked by how slow that car was.
By the way, that DISC assessment is interesting. “D” was also by far my dominant trait.
It’s good to see you and others confirming my thoughts and recollections about how underpowered that Mustang was.
From what I can remember, the information I was given about the DISC assessment said only about 15% or 16% of the population falls into the “D” category. Either “S” or “C” was the most common.
Wow, you kept that one a long time, though it certainly didn’t give you much reason to send it away sooner. You exhibited a discipline in that way that I did not muster for a few years (and way too much money squandered chasing my dreams).
Your description of the acceleration hits home. The slowest car I can remember driving (for quite awhile) was a 76-ish Mustang II owned by a friend of my mother. The car was only a couple of years old, but with its 4/automatic combo it was the slowest thing I had ever driven up to that point. That single experience turned that powertrain into the one at the very top of the “I’m never doing that” list, something I stuck to for many years.
I have never taken the DISC test, but suspect I would come out of it as a hard C, with maybe some bleed into the green area above it. And there is nothing worse than family drama when you are trying to deal with college. Anyway, a great read and I’m looking forward to many more.
There was a huge temptation to dump that Mustang at one point. The temptress made so sense whatsoever other than it would accelerate (quite nicely) when called upon. The temptation was a 1972 Buick Riviera with a very nicely running 455. It was quite the contrast to that poor Mustang.
That Riviera would “just do it” when called upon. It was glorious. But the used car dealer wanted too much and I’m a tightwad on some matters.
“… Despite wanting to think I played some role in his transformation, it would be wrong to assume I did…”.
Never underestimate the power of honest, brutally accurate, and helpful information offered to someone who knows there is a problem but can’t, or doesn’t want to, acknowledge what may be causing the problem.
Anyone smart enough to be a civil engineering college professor who is seeing mass losses in class attendance can put aside self-rationalizations and pure stubbornness if the critical information is presented forcefully and honestly.
Considering the change you saw later, it is logical to think you DID have a role in his transformation.
Regarding the Mustang – there’s a purity of form and simplicity in the notch-back even if the fastback is more useful and “sleeker”. And as a driver of a modestly powered first car, one must put a greater measure of thought and care into the driving experience (says the man who owned such a first car).
And… on the personality test I was a solid C but without the diplomacy. Careful, logical, organized and unfriendly (as verified by many co-workers).
You raise a great point on the professor. It reminded me of a quotation from the economist Thomas Sowell (that I even looked up to make sure I quoted him accurately) – “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”
That teacher’s method is the backbone of law school education, or at least it was when I was there. “The Socratic method” is supposed to work you through the problem and a good teacher can pull you there. But it is certainly high-stress for the student and I can see where it would be a poor choice for teaching undergrad engineering.
You have reminded me…this particular professor did later transition more to graduate level classes. So perhaps this helped play to his strengths.
I have never heard of the Socratic method but it makes utter sense. And I agree on it not being well suited for undergraduates.
That method of teaching was essentially universal in Europe, starting in middle school. My son Ted experienced this first hand when he went to Innsbruck for a year as a junior, attending a gymnasium (intended for those going on to university). The teacher calling on students to answer orally, often complex questions, was par for the course. It was an eye opener for him, although he didn’t get called on as his German was not up to snuff.
It can be very effective.
And there’s a useful element, as in Austria and Germany at the time (possibly/likely other European countries) there was no limit or entry tests to study any university subject, including medicine. In medicine, the starting class would be very large, but every year the bottom 25% of the class would be culled. By the end, only the top 25% were left. A good way to make sure that those that became doctors were really capable. In the US, it’s exactly the polar opposite: Once accepted, it’s almost impossible to fail out of medical school.
Not to dispute your approach with him, but in recent years university teaching has become all about getting good marks/ratings from the students; those that don’t risk their careers. Now teaching is about making the students feel good.
I was invited to a writing class at the UO a few years back, because the prof. is a CC reader, and he wanted his students to go find a CC and write them up. Frankly, I was shocked at the level of apathy and general malaise in that class. He had to constantly cajole them, to elicit some response and discussion. I was aghast. It was all at a very much lower level than what I had experienced at Loyola High School as a freshman and junior. It made me very thankful I never went to college. I can’t even imagine being a teacher, even at a well-rated university like the UO.
This is fascinating about teaching methodologies. This also could explain a few things as what was seemingly an insignificant tidbit may not be – this instructor was from the Middle East.
I have helped this same university with a couple of research projects over the last five or so years. My interaction was strictly with the instructor and / or grad students but the apathy you mention is unfortunate.
This approach to university education is similar to the one in Czech Republic, the one I experiences or have heard of from friends (especially the medical school).
The structural analysis picture got me feeling a little weird, because this (strength of materials) was one of the reasons I dropped out of Mechanical Engineering studies after three years with no degree. I just could not grasp the logic behind the things, doesn’t matter how many times people told me it’s really simple once you get ahold of it. First year was quite good, the second year was all online due to covid and that’s when I fell behind. We attended the third year as usual, but I still could not keep up with most of the essential courses (thermomechanics, fluid mechanics, strength of materials). Many people at Brno University of Technology need to prolong their bachelor studies for a year, because the number of people retaking some of the courses (math, physics, mechanics) is really high thanks to this approach of education and to the final exams. Nevertheless, I wasn’t a good fit for a mechanical engineer from the beginning, but it just took me long to figure it out.
Once a professor of Thermomechanics posted a picture on the department’s Facebook page that showed a bridge with a collapsed pillar, people standing around and wondering – I got the right formula, I just put in the wrong numbers! So the engineers really have to be precise and punctual.
Another professor’s (this time less favorite, from the construction department and with a very high-rate-of-failing-and-dropping-out courses) favorite saying was ‘engineering isn’t just using some basic formulas. Engineering is about creating a new world from the knowledge that science brought us!’
Paul, having taught graphic design as an adjunct for seven semesters just a few years back, I’m not surprised by your experience. I had good students each semester, but as the semesters went on the ratio of motivated students to apathetic or outright hostile ones got so imbalanced I didn’t want to continue.
” It was all at a very much lower level than what I had experienced at Loyola High School as a freshman and junior. It made me very thankful I never went to college.”
Paul, I think you are about five years younger than I and you would have enjoyed university back in the day. The greater deterioration of higher education you write about is more recent. During my 40-year professional career at a major American university (that ended 10 years ago) one witnessed this phenomenon steadily from the last decade of the century up to the present. It begins earlier and US students come to university with much less background than earlier generations. A friend who ended his university teaching career (English, French, literature) a few years ago was appalled at the lack of preparation of his last classroom cohorts. The kids were smart but had read little and lacked basic knowledge and understanding of history, economics, science, philosophy, literature. We’re paying the price for that at all levels, especially the voting booth.
Given the professor sometimes went out of his way to speak, I may have broken through. But when writing this I was concerned about sounding presumptuous.
I have had to tap into this very direct approach several other times over the years and I have made mention of some of them in upcoming installments. Sometimes it is the most effective tool and it certainly doesn’t waste time.
Your mention of friendliness in the workplace…that can be a precarious situation at times. As one who manages many, I need to be approachable and relatable. However, I need to balance that with those times when I have to do unpleasant things, such as demotions, suspensions, and terminations.
Some time ago I was suspending an employee. Things got emotional and I just kept a blank look on my face throughout, keeping my gaze upon him. It’s a method that has worked out well in other similar situations. That little unfriendly streak is your only friend in those circumstances.
I was watching the series “Yellowstone” when John Dutton said the following:
“I never had much luck leadin’ men and bein’ their friend. Maybe it can be different for you.”
That caught my attention.
I too can relate. In early ’85 my sister bought her first new car, a ’85 LX jalapeno red ( and I thought they were green, silly me) still carbureted 2.3L, auto. Yes, 0-60 times were measured with a calendar. BUT…the thing was a Top Fuel dragster compared to my ’83 long bed, dual fuel tank, 4×4 Ranger,,,with the 2.3L. At least the Mustang pretended to have some form of aerodynamics… Any wonder the Ranger, which I still have, got a 5.0L swap?
At one point my sister had a ’92 Ranger, long bed but 2wd, with a 2.3. This is likely the only vehicle I have ever driven that was more infuriating than that Mustang due to a power deficit.
I fully understand and support the 5.0 swap.
Terrific entry, and one I’ve been waiting for. I love that the “D personality” in you told the professor straight-up what the deal was with you dropping his class. I can’t recall being bullied by any of my own college professors, but yeah, not a good initial tactic for a new professor.
Loved the account – reminded me much of my own ’88 Mustang 2.3L hatch. You’re right about the interior fabric, in that corduroy. It wore very, very well, and the Regatta Blue color of mine had what I’d consider to be minimal fading, even in the Florida sun. My gas mileage was probably better than yours, but yes – a/c off for passing or freeway entry ramps.
And reading this, I suddenly remembered that having the spark plugs changed made mine feel like a new car.
Looking forward to your next entry!
There are times when something just needs to be said and that was one of those times. Plus, there are also some people in which nothing other than direct and borderline rude breaks through.
Why Ford didn’t offer a V6 on these still mystifies me. I know they wisened up by 1994, but would’ve liked the combo of the Essex V6 (or Vulcan) and the 1987-1993 interior.
I had one of these (a 1990) as a very old car. Gave it up because of the twin enemies of snow and rust. But it redefined the word lethargic. Scaringly slow for a new driver.
My car as a high school senior? A 13 year old Acura Integra. Automatic. A hot rod by comparison.
While I have nothing to base it on, I can’t help but wonder if the lack of a much needed V6 may have been due to manufacturing constraints. With the 3.0 going into the Taurus, Ranger, and Aerostar, which sold many units, perhaps there was not enough extra supply for the Mustang?
Possibly. And the Essex V6 was in the Thunderbird and later in the Taurus. I read gossip that this engine was going to be canned but seems implausible as the Thunderbird went on for more years.
Very first car was a Taurus with the Vulcan. Only car with something bigger than a 4. Just adequate but much better than the Mustang.
So much to unpack in this terrific entry Jason.
To think that at age 17 you were deciding between a Mustang and a LeBaron Coupe. Wow…I wonder if anyone here at a similar age made the opposite choice that you did. I get it now, but I think at 17 I’d sooner have chosen to daily a riding lawn mower.
You experience driving the 4cyl Mustang sounds a lot like mine driving the diesel Rabbit just a few years before you. It always got the job done, and could give the illusion of fun, but I’m sure that the floor under the accelerator was depressed by close to 1/2″ by the time I got rid of it.
And good on you for calling out that Prof in the manner you did. Most students would have just taken it or walked (as you say a third of the students did). Constructive criticism is worth so much…something I learned in my college experience where if nothing else, everyone majored in criticism (and quickly came to learn that was the one thing we nearly all had in common…which is why were weren’t anywhere else). Learning to make the criticism constructive and hopefully palatable is the challenge.
Finally, your antipathy toward attending college is a refreshing read. Frankly, it’s something that I wish young people today could spend more time reflecting upon. It’s not that I believe that fewer young people should go to college…and I can tell that where your story is headed relates to some extent to the fact that college benefited you, as I think it does many…but I wish that kids would just think more about their decision. And since kids typically need help thinking through the big stuff, I wish our society/culture helped kids more with that thought process. For a lot of reasons.
Anyhow, love following your journey, and am eagerly awaiting next week’s installment.
You’ve got me thinking here and I’m tried to harness my thoughts as best I could.
Over the years my antipathy toward college has softened to ambivalence. If a person wants to go, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine also. My larger concern ties into what you said (although it might diverge somewhat from your intent) – it seems so many go to college because that’s just what people are expected to do. That is not reason for going to college. Believe me, I know.
Did college help me out long term? Yes and no. Yes in the fact I have had some experiences and insights I might not have otherwise had. I would obviously have a much different job. To a degree, college did shape how I think. No in the fact I missed out on other experiences.
One thing colleges overlook is how the people element is overpowering in the workplace. At the time I went to college this part of the equation was utterly ignored. It could be said college only gets one half-prepared for the workplace as the people component is the primary component.
In looking back in the 26 years since I graduated college, my degree prepared me for an entry level job. Now, my degree is like the keys to my assigned vehicle. Sometimes I need them daily, sometimes not for a few weeks. Thus the knowledge I use most often is not sourced from a college education.
The intent of college should be preparing a person for a lifetime. In my case, it took me 5.5 years to prepare for 5.5 years of entry level jobs. College did nothing to prepare me for motivating and managing people (particularly those much older than I) and did nothing to prepare me for how to tackle those times in which the home lives of others interfere with the workplace. College prepared me for nothing in the people realm – what to expect, how to manage it, how to approach it. Should it? Perhaps, perhaps not. However, college – for me at least – has always been presented as preparing a person for a lifetime. Does it really? Or does it just set the framework?
Maybe this sounds negative. Such isn’t the intent. These are more rhetorical questions and very broad critiques.
I applaud you for making me think about this more in depth. And I’m still obviously questioning it all.
Next week’s installment isn’t quite as deep as this one, but there are numerous others that do go deep. It’s going to be quite the adventure, so thank you for coming along for the ride.
You describe a very common problem. Being a practicing engineer and being a manager are two quite different things.
I can only say that a good liberal arts education is probably the best educational training for being a manager, as that does delve a lot into the human experience in many realms: history, literature, arts, etc.. Engineering is clearly not a very human-oriented field; probably the least of all of the fields. So that alone would explain the huge gap you encountered in your education.
As you know, I didn’t attend college and followed my whims for some six years. It’s not for everyone, but I did have a wide range of experiences which presumably helped me when I was suddenly thrust into a key management position at the tender age of 28.
Although I had a clear idea of what I wanted/needed to accomplish in that job, I was deeply lacking the skills and most of all the wider knowledge of the tv/broadcasting industry. I was not at all properly “educated” in terms of my working experience, and it made me vulnerable to being influenced by those seeking to take advantage of my naivete. But I got through it, although I always rued my wider lack of knowledge. I started reading industry papers/magazines religiously to try to make up for that, but experience and /or a mentor is invaluable.
I know that many companies require additional education when professionals are moved into management roles. That might have been quite helpful for you. But ultimately, management of people is challenging, no matter how well educated. And I suspect most of us will always feel like we’re not really up to the job.
FWIW, after managing people for some 13-14 years, when I transitioned out of tv management I decided to never do that again. I purposely decided to keep my real estate investment portfolio small enough so that I could do it all myself. I turned down numerous opportunities to buy properties at very attractive prices because my goal was not to get big and have to hire people and manage them. I have zero regrets about that. Frankly, managing people fundamentally…sucks. The whole nature of the relationship, of superior – subordinate, is fundamentally problematic, at best.
I can’t stand to be told what to do, and I don’t like telling others what to do. I like to work with others as equals and collaborators, but not in positions of where the power is uneven. It just doesn’t work well for me, and I’ve oriented my life around that reality.
Spot on. Another thing I have also known for sometime is I am not one of the stereotypical engineers who lives and breathes the profession. In high school I took an aptitude test in which one’s talents came out in one of four quadrants on what otherwise looked like a dartboard. I came out in the middle, which means I likely could have done a number of things with equal success.
As a contrast to that, I work with an engineer whose technical skills are tremendous but he doesn’t quite know how to respond when telling him hello.
I did have some internal training upon moving to a managerial role although it was obvious it was designed largely by engineers for engineers. Lots of hard skills with management but none of the soft skills that are essential.
A few years ago a similar training program for up and coming field staff was developed and I had to ensure the training was given. I largely shit-canned the content and made my own due to the absence of soft skills. That was my “D” at work.
While it’s a few installments away, a later chapter delves into the transition to management and some of what I dealt with along the way. Like you, I was 28 at the time.
These days I’ve got a plumb leadership role. While I have a few hundred indirect reports, I have only three direct reports. We are all on the same page and life is delightful in that regard.
A few thoughts regarding your comments on college, etc.
My father got a scholarship to an engineering school in the late 1950s. He enrolled, but found the teaching awful. One professor was particularly bad, and he had a discussion similar to yours. The professor didn’t care; my father then dropped out – the teaching was poor enough to walk away from free tuition.
When I came along later, college was presented to me – like you said – as one of life’s necessities. Dad still operated under the 1960s belief that any college degree represented an unlimited ticket to success. Decades later, and I still haven’t seen a job listing from an employer looking for a candidate with a History degree.
In the intervening years, it seems that college has changed. It’s frightfully expensive, and I question whether there’s much in the way of actual educational value… seems that college degree has become little more than a verification of upper-middle class economic status and/or a ticket to a graduate degree. I’d be very pleased if my daughters choose some other route for themselves. Like Jeff mentions above, I hope that our society evolves into helping kids more with that thought process, and that fewer employers require college degrees for jobs that don’t really need them. End of rant here… just a lot to comment about.
College has become not only frighteningly expensive, but it has become a place where the school caters to students’ whims by promoting fields of study that have no practical purpose but for a very few. A young man of my knowledge graduated with a degree in animal behavior. He was very interested in animals, and the school was right there to collect his parents’ money. As graduation was approaching, it became clear that becoming a zookeeper was pretty much the only open field, and only then after some unpaid internships. He put himself through a nursing program and works as a nurse now.
Your concern aligns very well with my intent, fwiw.
Even as a significant portion of what I do professionally seems on the surface to point toward orienting all students toward college, I tend to view things a bit differently. My belief is that students/young people need to be prepared to think critically, communicate, collaborate and to overall be prepared to take increasingly responsible roles in making decisions that positively impact their lives and by extension, society. That growth process could be something that benefits from college, or it could be hampered. Or, even worse in a way, it could have nothing to do with college, in which case blind adherence to the “everyone needs college” is a mighty big waste of time and resources (both for the student, and as a social investment). Which is why I am a big proponent of a strong liberal arts education as it offers the best pathway, IMO, for continuing that critical thinking pathway that often (increasingly) does not get addressed in K-12. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer proponents of that sort of higher education nowadays.
I will also add (and I’ll try to keep it short since this isn’t Collegeside Classic 😉 ) that people do change over time, and the benefits of certain experiences – such as college – do not necessarily manifest quickly. My personal college experience sounds as if it may have been almost the flip side of yours. I went to a college where the motto was “To Know is Not Enough”, and the place took that very seriously…so seriously that by the time I graduated, I felt that I actually knew virtually nothing so far as the practical, career skills, stuff that I had assumed that I would have gotten from college (and some people I know who went to other colleges did acquire). In terms of factual info, I knew pretty much nothing beyond what I had learned in high school (I went to a very good high school). Instead, I spent pretty much my entire time there learning how to master life skills, managerial skills, interpersonal communication, and negotiation (often with faculty as that was pretty much the only way to pass a course…negotiation).
Oh, and I had a lot of time to drive, learned how to fix a car on my own, and how to manage a budget that would allow me to own and operate a vehicle…so there, that’s the car connection.
But you probably know where this story goes. 40 years later, the ONLY stuff I have benefited from in terms of what I spent my college time doing is the stuff I actually learned in college. Pretty much everything else that related to academics is either long forgotten (there were some academic courses…) or subsequently learned on-the-job. Jobs, that I’ll note, that I acquired via my ability to work with groups, quickly acquire skills, exercise management, and self-promote myself into. I shudder to think what kind of life I’d have if I had mostly spent college acquiring academic skills and book-knowledge, versus the “soft-skills” that I in fact did acquire.
And so far as the DISC thing goes, I’ve never done that particular test, but I have done many a Myers Briggs and have stayed consistently INTJ over the past 30 or so years. I think that’s a C-D in DISC.
So where did you go to college?
It’s of course changed and grown over the years, but still has the same DNA it did back in my day.
The Myers-Briggs has placed me as an INTJ, also.
Your statement about the default route of college has me thinking of the apathy Paul and others have described seeing. Might it be due to these students not caring to be there or college simply isn’t a good fit for them but they were thrust that direction anyway? Rhetorical again, but that’s where my mind goes.
Just how not everyone can draw or sing, the same applies to college (as well as many other things in life) as one size never fits everything.
I kept on getting a 94908 on the Myers-Briggs test, which made no sense until I realised I’d been taking the Briggs-Stratton.
I’ve been hit with the Myers-Briggs type indicator by three prospective employers over the years (though all long ago). Twice was an ENFJ but once an ENFP. What I remember is being told once I pegged the needle on the “extroversion” scale once. Curious, since while I’m unquestionably extroverted, I don’t act like a stereotypical extrovert at all – i.e. I have no problem spending time or going places alone.
I recall another psychological test of this variety where there was one question like “when you go to a restaurant, do you prefer to sit near the center of the room, or off to the sides or in a corner?” All things being equal, I feel more comfortable around other people so would prefer being near the center. But things aren’t usually equal in restaurant seating – the outskirts of the room often have comfortable, padded booths, whereas the middle areas get hard, uncomfortable wooden or plastic chairs surrounding small tables. I have serious back pain problems, so I always go for the padded benches off to the sides. But I could tell this question was about my comfort level being surrounded by people, not about backaches, so I lied and said I’d sit in the middle of the restaurant. If I brought up back pain, they’d figure I’d run them dry on health insurance and not get hired.
I have no idea where I’d fall on the DISC thing…I look at it, see a trait that starts out right but then there’s an immediate and strong contradiction with the next word in that trait…all the way around the thing…But knowing you in person I think I can see aspects of all the options for you as well.
Your car-selection story is fascinating as we are around the same ages but yours is a solid midwestern perspective that took me many years to wrap my mind around. While Mustangs certainly were represented in my area at the time, a LeBaron would have been a flat out non-starter unless just a hand-me-down from Grandma, in fact I cannot recall actually ever knowing anyone with one. On the other hand, there was a wide variety (probably each better represented than non-GT Mustangs) including Golf and especially Jetta, Celica/Corolla/Tercel, 200/240SX, Prelude/Civic/Accord, Integra, 3-series, various minitrucks but more import-skewed, and so on.
I did drive an ’84 or so Mustang with a 4cylinder and a 4speed manual once when I was considering one during college. Beyond a little rust due to it being a Maryland plated car of all things (on the CA coast at the time), it just didn’t seem to move. At the time I probably still had the ’79 626 with all of 80hp but a 5-speed, which comparatively made all the difference. That Mustang just had no spirit.
I’m a hard D, which is not at all ideal for someone running a web site. No wonder we’ve lost a few commenters/contributors over the years. 🙂
You may be a double D. 🙂 Only the best and most worthy remain after the culling of the herd. It’s like college in Austria and Germany…
That’s a personal attack, and against our commenting policies! Do you want to get banned? 🙂
Hmm, that could free up a LOT of time!
Jim, you are a tougher nut to crack on the DISC thing. D’s can generally spot D’s – I could tell Paul was a D long ago. :). I had also determined JP was a C.
Keep in mind another Midwest quirk that was my world at the time…the nearest VW dealer was 100 miles away in St. Louis so nobody had a VW. The next nearest VW dealer was likely in Memphis, the major city second closest to where I grew up. Same with Acura and Lexus. Hondas and Toyotas were infrequent and those that drove them were considered eccentric. No lie.
In other words, take what you knew and inverse it. I do that all the time for those describing their experiences along the west coast.
Also keep in mind something I’ve related before…the closest Honda dealer was Weiser Honda. Pronounced “wheezer” it was one of those times you just needed to use a different name when associating it with your product.
That Mustang was like an old dog…it really wanted to run but there was simply nothing in him to make it happen.
I think I’m an I. Discuss,
The way it was put to me, the “I” people are the happy-go-lucky types who really don’t worry about much.
An example would be a guy who buys an Alfa because that is what his heart says. 🙂
Some of that is familiar……but 2 Alfas!
In 1986 I had a fairly new V6 automatic Mustang hatchback rental car for several weeks. The engine was impressive –quiet and refined, very torquey – and it was possible to make decent progress. Gas mileage was pretty good too.
I’m glad to read the full story of your Mustang here. I’ve read numerous anecdotes about that car over the years, but for some reason didn’t realize that you’d owned it for that long or put that many miles on it.
A few random thoughts:
– I used to turn off a car’s air conditioner for passing all the time. In fact, that habit persisted even years after I bought a car that was powerful enough to make that irrelevant.
– The Tennessee Walking Horse is the perfect metaphor for these 4-cyl. Mustangs.
– I’m curious about your decision regarding the LeBaron vs. Mustang. Did any part of you long for the LeBaron? And it seems you made the right choice, as I’d suspect the LeBaron wouldn’t have remained with you for so long.
– Your time in Jefferson City overlapped my wife’s time living there, and I bet that you and she (in her Thunderbird) were on the road at the same time in that January 1996 snowstorm.
The LeBaron was there primarily due to the process of elimination. While I didn’t really long for either it or the Mustang, the Mustang made more sense at the time.
Mrs. Eric and I probably even saw each other in the grocery store. The first time I met her she looked familiar. 🙂
Excellent story, thank you. I owned an 87 Mustang 4cyl , virtually the twin to your car, and I agree on all points. It combined the performance of a lowly inexpensive economy car and the spacious utility of a sports coupe.
At least it was easy to repair.
The hot rodder in me sought a remedy for the low power. Both the intake and exhaust manifolds were well shaped with long individual tubes, good for maintaining velocity of gases. The OHC format creates a nice relatively free flowing valve angle, and the throttle body was a decent size. This thing should be making more than 88 hp, given 2.3 liters is a decent displacement.
I found the plastic muffler on the air intake pipe to be restrictive, with a tiny internal passage smaller than the throttle body. I replaced the muffler with a small section of ABS plastic drain pipe.
The ignition timing was adjustable, but there were no specifications for the adjustment (I found the service manual stated it was pre-set at the factory) and no timing marks. I added timing tape, threw a timing light on it and adjusted the timing based on 1979 specs for the same engine, but slightly more advanced.
The improvement was remarkable. Noticeably more power, and throttle response. The little engine actually liked to rev. The car was still slow but could now keep up with traffic and not fall on its face when going uphill. My butt dyno estimated the power at 105 to 110 hp.
I’m not sure why Ford would engineeer decent manifolds
just to kill power through a piece of plastic and sub optimal timing. Perhaps it was to meet emission controls. My guess is the increased airflow and cylinder pressure I created would increase oxides of nitrogen beyond spec but I’m not sure.
Did you make both of those modifications in one go? I don’t think removing the intake silencer increased your cylinder pressure; this idea is the foundation of K&N’s bogus claims for their “performance” air “filters”. Advancing the ignition timing certainly did increase your cylinder pressure (and NOx emissions), though.
On the college thing, I wasn’t given the hard sell growing up, but it was simply assumed that I would be going and I never questioned it. Just like it was assumed that I’d eat the broccoli or swisschard on the dinner plate and go to church every Sunday in a jacket and tie. But this was in the late 60s/early 70s well before tuition costs got out of hand.
Looking back, I’m glad I went. It gave me the first real chance at independence from my well-meaning but overly protective mother. It also made it possible for me to have a rewarding career, even if it was in a different field from which I had majored.
BTW, from looking at that personality diagram, I’m firmly in the C category. In my college years, I never would have had the nerve to speak so directly to a professor like you did. Good for you, and maybe you did change his outlook!
Their solar car team beat the daylights (zing…) out of ours.
Mechanical engineers make weapons, so it is said…
…and civil engineers make targets.
I dig your conversation with that structural analysis professor (merits and/or drawbacks of his method aside for the moment). Was he apoplectic in rejection of your criticism, or in realisation he’d been doing it wrong?
I suspect he was apoplectic due to a) I was so nervy as to actually say it and b) honesty often stings.
He wasn’t one of the prima donna professors but I suspect he did think highly of himself. Then some skinny 20 year old tells him he acts like an asshole. That had to have rocked his boat.
Long ago I heard a religion-themed joke about mechanical vs. electrical vs. civil engineers. The mechanicals said God was an ME due to the muscles and tendons in the body. The electricals said God was an EE due to the electrical impulses that control all the body’s systems. The civils said God was a CE as nobody else could successfully have a waste discharge in the middle of a recreational area.
I had a similar experience with my differential calculus professor. He was just off the boat from Malaysia, a nice, well meaning guy who was stuck on rote learning, a method that may have worked fine for subservient Malay students but not me. I’d used Excel’s solver function for years in spreadsheets and knew how powerful differential calculus could be. I learned how to perform simple differential calc problems by hand in his class and didn’t have a problem with that. But he insisted that we perform complex calc’s by hand when we all had perfectly functional TI-89s in our backpacks. We lost points on the final if we didn’t show our work. I didn’t, I got a B, and I told him why. I think it woke him up a bit.
That’s interesting as I had a similar teacher in calculus which is my least favorite class. This was around the time that those TI calculators came out but not everyone could afford one of the early ones. His reasoning was that even if your answer was wrong at least he got to see your work and if on the right track he would give you partial credit rather than zero.
Yes, he did the same. On the final exam I completed the first few, simpler calcs by hand. But on the subsequent, complicated calcs I whipped out my TI and got marked down a bit for it.
I had recently left a job that required me to determine optimum production levels for different assembly lines and Excel did a fine job of it. I was interested in how Excel did it, and learned how in that class and appreciated the knowledge, but didn’t see the value in performing all the subsequent complicated calcs that I’d use a spreadsheet to perform in later employment. I thought it was a waste of time.
The instructor followed me out of the class while my fellow students were still grinding out answers by hand so I explained what I did. He agreed with me and we made plans to meet up in Singapore the next time I was out his way.
I guess that Ford 2.3 works better in a lighter vehicle with a manual transmission because it went fine in Ranger pickups with a 5 speed. I found this out during my college wanderings, (7 years from HS to BA) with a work truck. I ended up with a BA after 5 schools and as many majors and promptly started working as a mechanic, which is still a great deal of what I do after 26 years in IT. I just use a PowerShell script instead of a hammer.
Your part of Missouri is nicer looking than Joplin where we lived in 93-94. The road down to Eureka Springs was fun and the odd drive to Neosho and it Art Deco courthouse but Joplin itself was a lot of Wal-Mart. This is why we moved to Oregon in 94 where things were greener and more cosmopolitan. I’m still in Oregon although my area is both less green and less cosmopolitan but I’m getting old and value space more.
That DISC assessment sounds interesting, I would be almost totally C with a smattering of S and none of the other two. I’d be the one analyzing the testing procedure, and trying to figure out the ‘right’ answer.
I also got steamrollered into college, the first of my family to go. My domineering father saw education as being the answer to all he’d missed out on, and a change of government in Australia had made tertiary education free, and therefore affordable; the government even paid me an allowance to study, which enabled me to buy all sorts of stuff – a good way to get the economy moving, says the now-cynical me. It also enabled my parents to borrow from me – a position of power! 🙂 Plus at school it was just assumed that if you hadn’t dropped out already, you’d go on to university. I kind of went my own way in choosing a tech college, ‘more of what you’ll need to know’ was how I thought of it.
Considering what Ford offered in your country, I could see myself maybe ending up with one of these. I’m wondering where the 2.3 would have been noticeably better with a manual?
My dad bought my younger brother a Mustang II with a four and four speed. It was pretty slow. Enough about cars, now, on to college.
I think that a person’s attitudes and expectations towards college depends on their upbringing. If you grow up in a comfortable middle class lifestyle, it’s pretty hard for a youngster to imagine that they can’t at least have the same in their adult life. No matter what occupational or vocational path that they choose. I think that can be the same even for the kid that comes from a solid Union based blue collar family or skilled tradesman.
If you come from a middle class family than you already are middle class. There are real benefits from living in a household where the educational/intellectual level is higher than for low income families. This is the” human capital” that is often discussed. Many lower income people would like to enter the Middle Class. It’s something that has value to them and they would like it for their children. After WWII many veterans took advantage of the GI Bill to go to college. You always hear news stories where some kid is lauded for being the first in their family to attend college. So a lot depends on your vantage point.
All that being said, Does college prepare you for a career and future? I suppose that it depends what field that you want to work in. I suppose that in a highly technical field you would have to learn a lot of information to be able to do your job. Medicine, Science , Engineering, anything that takes a good background in mathematics, you’d have to learn that somewhere, even if more learning will take place after graduation. A Bachelor’s degree is really just the beginning, even if a lot of your further education comes from an expansion of your life experience.
I never went away for college. I went part time to Community College and a local state University while I worked full time. I had a great time, with money for motorcycles and cars, and I was always busy.
“… went part time to Community College and a local state University while I worked full time..”.
Jose, That’ a very smart way to do the college thing.
We in NJ have a community college called Raritan. Some of the professors at Raritan also teach at NYU and Columbia. It’s a good way to experiment with courses and majors, have serious discussions with smart people, and then make well informed decisions without first having to make a huge four year commitment in both time and money straight out of high school.
Raritan has an agreement with Rutgers that allows graduates with associate degrees to transfer in and get their bachelors degree in two years.
Going away for college wasn’t exactly part of the plan but limitations locally dictated doing so.
However, I think doing so helped make a needed distinction between work/school and family life. Despite the drama pulling me in early on, the distance ultimately worked well in a number of ways.
Doing college while working full time is not easy and I admire your ability to have done so.
My first car was procured for me by my parents when I was 17. Unlike yours, mine did not give me 80,000 miles, rather just a small fraction of that. Maybe one day I will give it COAL coverage.
The college discussion brings to mind the One Ten Initiative (https://oneten.org/) which seeks to get one million young people into entry level jobs with major corporations. The people who organized the initiative, mostly retired CEOs and the like, have learned that having a college degree is not really a good predictor of success in a job. Having a skill and personality set that is well suited for a particular job is a five times better predictor. So, they have gotten companies to remove a college degree as a job requirement and substitute a skills assessment. This opens up jobs to people with no more than high school diplomas that were previously not a possibility. While this initiative is aimed at minorities the idea that a college degree is not necessary for many jobs applies to everyone.
The One Ten initiative sounds like a very good one.
In June I hired a new assistant at work. It was an internal fill, so I knew a l to about the candidates. My candidate pool was an embarrassment of riches as I had altered the job requirements allowing one to substitute experience for education. Previously, the job had required an engineering degree.
The person I hired has no degree but loads of practical experience that he brings with him and has hit the ground running. It’s been great.
Thanks for that link/info. A program that I will check out!
LOL, I had a Physics class with a bad teacher like your engineering. This was a required class along the Life Science Pathway at San Diego State University. The problem with this large class, of around 80 people, is that it was to be taught by a professor who taught upper division classes to more experienced physics students.
By the 12th week of a 15 week semester I knew I was in trouble. Mind you this was 4B as I already had 4A so what was the problem. The teacher, who really let us know he didn’t want to be there as though it was a downgrade. Dropping a class, after 8 weeks, is quite hard. I needed the Dean of Sciences to sign off on it otherwise it was no go even if the professor signed it. I got his, I got out of the class, I went to class to tell two friends, and that promptly started a cascade of students dropping the class, circa 1972-73.
That should have been a signal to the instructor.
At Southeast I had a physics instructor who was a combination of bad and clueless. One day he gave us a five minute pop quiz. Everyone bombed it. When somebody told him to do this problem for us it took the entire class and he was using differential equations when he knew we were all in Calc II at that time.
He once gave us a 120 point test in which the average was an 11. I got a 62 and thought I had won the lottery.
Is there another website where the comment thread is as eclectic, free-wheeling and wide-ranging (and as civil) as CC? Not that I know of.
CC Rules! – Best Website Ever.
Jason, I am so far behind in my CC reading, but this COAL series (as well as JPC’s) is not to be missed. I love what I’ve read so far.
The soap opera tie-in is kinda fun, even though the only one I recall ever watching was General Hospital in the Luke and Laura days. And the only thing I remember about that was that when their saga was over around 1984, the couple drove off in a brand new Aero Bird, similar to the one I just got for myself earlier in the year (an ’83, slightly used).
The only relatable thing car-wise I can add to this one, is that my first new car was also an underpowered Fox. In my case, it an anemic ‘79 Futura with Ford’s mighty 200 straight six and 3 speed automatic. I think it too was rated at 88 horsepower.
And my car made the brochure too! – although I didn’t have those cool rims.