Geek-Filled College Has Required Social Skills Classes

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Geek-Filled College Has Required Social Skills Classes

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Responding to employer complaints that its graduates are socially inept and glued to their computers, computer science school Neumont University is forcing its geeky student body to learn some social skills in order to graduate.

Neumont University clearly has no problems churning out top-level talent. It's a college exclusively devoted to advanced studies in computer science, where students have classes for eight hours a day, five days a week all year-round. 90% of grads land jobs three months after graduation, some at companies like Microsoft, IBM and eBay, according to a recent LA Times article.

Here there are no beer cans littering the campus on a Saturday mornings. The hottest parties at Neumont are LAN parties, and Mountain Dew's favored over Natural Light. The student body is 95% male. This is pretty much it. Geek heaven. And it does not smell good.

"The truth is there are people in this school who just don't smell pleasant at all," one of the few female students at Neumont complained on a public forum.

The smell's just part of a bigger problem. Companies that have recruited Neumont graduates have been pleased with their computer skills, but have complained that the students lack basic social skills and suffer from computer addiction. To fix this Neumont's administration is taking drastic measures by forcing students to shut down laptops in class, start social clubs, and take at least three classes in interpersonal communication before they can graduate.

"You have to look up from your computer screens from time to time," pronounced an instructor at one of the classes The LA Times observed. "This will also help you if you're in a relationship."

"We don't have many of those," a student replied.

That's a problem for the school's administration, but it doesn't seem to be one with the student body, who haven't responded well to the administration's efforts to get them away from their computers.

"I might be missing a whole laid-back year of college," student Christina Dessi said. "But my friends at other colleges might not be able to get a job."

And that's a girl saying that.

[LA Times via GameCulture]

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Shorten their classes and pay for their beer at a local bar every now and then. Boom, problem solved.

CoverYourHead:
Shorten their classes and pay for their beer at a local bar every now and then. Boom, problem solved.

Damn, someone beat me to the punch. Though I'm not a bar/party person myself. What can I say, I'm a bit of a loner...

If only every school had this :P

Poor guys lol.

Lol, as if social skills are needed in a programming job.

i would love to go there, great job chance after, and i would pass the social skills requirements

harhol:
Lol, as if social skills are needed in a programming job.

To program, no, but to interact with the rest of the company that hired you, yes. Nobody is going to want to deal with the IT guy who stinks or can't look you in the eye when he talks to you.

That's just sad...

I mean... come on... This is WORSE than the average "nerd" stereotype...

Caliostro:
That's just sad...

I mean... come on... This is WORSE than the average "nerd" stereotype...

Yeah really, I'm a massive shut in but even I can look someone in the eye when I talk to them and remember to shower every night without fail.

Susan Arendt:

harhol:
Lol, as if social skills are needed in a programming job.

To program, no, but to interact with the rest of the company that hired you, yes. Nobody is going to want to deal with the IT guy who stinks or can't look you in the eye when he talks to you.

If he was good at his job I wouldn't care otherwise...probably just me though. (Well...maybe the smell would be a bit irritating, but, having been around such, both male and female, I've felt it's rude to comment, though, guess that would change were I an employer? Don't know really...)

I don't know, I always got the impression that a job is a job, you go there to work not socialise, that's for outside.

All this will do is harm their pride and glory, their graduate job rate and their passing grades.

Screw social skills, thats what hookers are for -.-

... Is it seriously that hard to look people in the eyes when you're talking to them and to remember to shower?

GothmogII:

Susan Arendt:

harhol:
Lol, as if social skills are needed in a programming job.

To program, no, but to interact with the rest of the company that hired you, yes. Nobody is going to want to deal with the IT guy who stinks or can't look you in the eye when he talks to you.

If he was good at his job I wouldn't care otherwise...probably just me though. (Well...maybe the smell would be a bit irritating, but, having been around such, both male and female, I've felt it's rude to comment, though, guess that would change were I an employer? Don't know really...)

I don't know, I always got the impression that a job is a job, you go there to work not socialise, that's for outside.

It's not about hanging out and watching movies with the guy, it's about being able to operate in the workplace. Let's say you need to have a meeting with this guy, you're launching a new project and you want his input. If he's so socially inept that he can't communicate with you, you're going to be less likely to want him on your team. If his inability to work with others decreases his value as a company asset, that's a problem.

You don't have to be best buddies with your co-workers, but you do need to be able to interact with them in a social way (again, this isn't beers at the pub, simply communicating as humans do).

Doc Theta Sigma:
... Is it seriously that hard to look people in the eyes when you're talking to them and to remember to shower?

For some people, yes, it really is. Well, not so much remembering, they just don't place the same kind of importance on it that others do, so it slips down their priority list. Oftentimes they don't even realize that their behavior is offputting.

Hahaha, This has made my year.

Socially inept. That must suck.

lol, if I go there I would seem like an Olympian God of socializing!

...or just blend in...

Whatever the case, that place sounds like a lot of fun.

Don't really like the guy to girl ratio though.

Heh, I nearly transferred there. Now I'm glad I didn't. From what I understand, they're premier programmers and techs, though, and the companies that work with the students don't have any issue with the stuff they produce.

Susan Arendt:

Doc Theta Sigma:
... Is it seriously that hard to look people in the eyes when you're talking to them and to remember to shower?

For some people, yes, it really is. Well, not so much remembering, they just don't place the same kind of importance on it that others do, so it slips down their priority list. Oftentimes they don't even realize that their behavior is offputting.

I have trouble looking people in the eye if I'm not accustomed to them. Luckily, I seem to be able to pass off looking elsewhere as natural. (I'm so suave...) But at least I SHOWER every day. I know people who, it's pretty obvious, do not shower. Major pain in the ass to be around them.

Especially with the summer weather hitting us right now. Hoo wah.

Give them all some E and it will change....

I think a few colleges could benefit from this (math and engineer colleges to be quite honest).

"No, sorry, you guys are TOO dedicated-- fuck around a bit please."

I'm kind of wondering how I would do in those interpersonal communication classes...

Ahahahahahahahaha. It is Utah though. Combine typical geek habits with rural midwestern living and you get the armpit of American society.

Why does this remind me so much of my Aspergers' syndrome... oh wait... no social skills, focused exclusivly on one topic, highly studius and factual... I see something interesting here!

This is the very top of nerdiness

I have reccently graduated from a rather geeky engineering school and it was no where near as bad as this. They need to lighten up on the work and have some fun that does not involve computers.

You can't make people be social. All you'll get is resentful imitation of social behavior.

Often wondered why eye contact is so important though... Still, not as bad as the people who claim to be able to tell what type of person you are just with a firm handshake and a heavy eyeballing match.

hahaha!

fuck social skills class, i have a charisma stat of 18

meatloaf231:
You can't make people be social. All you'll get is resentful imitation of social behavior.

Truth. It's still weird, though, geeks usually are comfortable around other geeks even if they're all imitating normal social behavior.

You can't teach social skills in a classroom!

Doc Theta Sigma:
... Is it seriously that hard to look people in the eyes when you're talking to them and to remember to shower?

For some people it is a problem that they can't help (such as those with asperger's syndrome etc.) but that wouldn't be a viable excuse for the majority of students at a college.

The only real way to counter this lack of social skills is to force the students to act in a social manner (sociability can't really be taught, it's something you have to learn the hard way), don't give them the option to just slide underneath the social radar or they will.

The students won't like it, it'll be difficult and there will no doubt be a few people who have a nervous breakdown as a result but at the end of it you'll be ready for the big, bad world and it's drunken, stoned, sleezy, horny and prejudiced populace (you'll be impervious to any socially awkward thing anyone can throw at you).

I have my doubts as to whether Asperger's Syndrome actually exists. I've met enough people with Autism to firmly believe that there is no such thing as 'mildly autistic'. That is another discussion however.

You CAN teach social skills to be honest, that is more or less what prep schools, etiquette courses, and other things are for. Albeit they require fairly willing participation.

Honestly though, my actual reaction here is that it's stupid. I think corperate America gets what it wants too often. The entire point of dedicated schools like this is to produce monsterously talented computer specialists. If you want the skills, you deal with the whole package. I think being detached and singularly focused is part of what makes such people so good.

What's more corperate America has never been especially good at the entire creative process, and one way or another being a computer jockey is about creativity. These people start conforming and their basically shooting themselves in the kneecaps. The annoyance is good for the entire culture these guys wind up working within.

Minimal personal hygiene, yes. If they smell that bad I can see the need for refresher courses on "health". As far as social skills go, that's not really nessicary providing they do the job. Corperate America probably is trying to say it wants bootlickers. Well, when you get to this level of genuine abillity/talent that doesn't usually go with it. Time for those guys to back off and realize that when it comes to computers these guys are THEIR Lord and Master and the computer systems are their territory. They want the benefits, they learn to back off and tolerate the characters in the field. :)

I'm NOT a computer geek, I have a hard time programming a bloody VCR with instructions. It's just that I've seen these kinds of complaints from "the establishment" over a long period of time in differant fields. The guys on top hate non-conformist mavericks, and not being in direct control of everything that happens, BUT when they bring people into the fold they wind up losing a lot of the benefits that they had, can't realize what happened, and everyone pays the price.

I could give examples, and personal experiences, but this would just get longer.

>>>----Therumancer--->

>>>----Therumancer--->

>>>----Therumancer--->

Hate to say it but the American workplace has changed dramatically. The number one complaint I got in my yearly review was the "lack of socializing with the team". Now I am the only person at my work who does not get written up or scolded at for slacking off. I even talk to my co-workers from time to time except my manager. When I asked my manager about this review on why he wrote that note he said to me "You aren't my friend or willing to make shit, homosexual or fuck jokes at work. I don't feel like I can approach you like the others".

The workplace is more of a social environment now than being an actual place of work and productivity. Employers want you to do the job and there are times where they care how well, but now the focus is on how popular and how social you are. If you are nervous or intimidating by facial expressions you are not going to make it far in the workplace.

When the band Bowling for Soup said in their song "High School Never Ends" they meant it.

If people can't get along with you or you can't be one of the "guys"(relate to their egos) then finding employment is one of the hardest challenges because it isn't so much as your passions but finding the people who share your passion and your hobbies.

Therumancer:


What's more corperate America has never been especially good at the entire creative process, and one way or another being a computer jockey is about creativity. These people start conforming and their basically shooting themselves in the kneecaps. The annoyance is good for the entire culture these guys wind up working within.

Minimal personal hygiene, yes. If they smell that bad I can see the need for refresher courses on "health". As far as social skills go, that's not really nessicary providing they do the job. Corperate America probably is trying to say it wants bootlickers. Well, when you get to this level of genuine abillity/talent that doesn't usually go with it. Time for those guys to back off and realize that when it comes to computers these guys are THEIR Lord and Master and the computer systems are their territory. They want the benefits, they learn to back off and tolerate the characters in the field. :)

I'm NOT a computer geek, I have a hard time programming a bloody VCR with instructions. It's just that I've seen these kinds of complaints from "the establishment" over a long period of time in different fields. The guys on top hate non-conformist mavericks, and not being in direct control of everything that happens, BUT when they bring people into the fold they wind up losing a lot of the benefits that they had, can't realize what happened, and everyone pays the price.

No, it's just that trying to talk to these people can be one of the most annoying things a person can go through. It's like they have all that programming power but no common sense. And when you're trying to relay a message on how you want a certain project you need somebody who doesn't piss you off because they can't process a simple instruction.

And trust me nobody is worried about conforming these guys.

GothmogII:

Susan Arendt:

harhol:
Lol, as if social skills are needed in a programming job.

To program, no, but to interact with the rest of the company that hired you, yes. Nobody is going to want to deal with the IT guy who stinks or can't look you in the eye when he talks to you.

If he was good at his job I wouldn't care otherwise...probably just me though. (Well...maybe the smell would be a bit irritating, but, having been around such, both male and female, I've felt it's rude to comment, though, guess that would change were I an employer? Don't know really...)

I don't know, I always got the impression that a job is a job, you go there to work not socialise, that's for outside.

I'd say it's about collaboration rather than socialization. The ability to communicate effectively is vital for a software engineer.

While a lot of schools teach primarily via solo projects, most real-world programming jobs involve software that is too big for one person to know in full breadth and depth. You're constantly talking to system engineers to clarify requirements, constantly talking to testers to exchange information about bugs and changes, constantly talking to other developers to share experience and make sure your stuff works together with theirs. You don't have to be a social butterly, but if you're a programmer who can't comfortably talk to other people, you're likely to end up being the guy who sits in his office for a month writing code that the project didn't actually need.

Many projects demand maintainable code -- not just code that works right now but code that somebody else is going to be able to go in and change years later, probably without any input from the original author. Understanding how to write things that other people will actually understand -- theory of mind for programmers -- is more important than pure hacker virtuosity.

-- Alex

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