Doing my civic duty

in Reflections2 months ago

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Don't let the title of this post fool you. Despite the fact that Michigan held their primary election yesterday, that isn't what this post is about. In case you are wondering though, @mrsbozz and I did cast our ballots although it was several weeks ago via absentee ballot.

Given the fact that we work half an hour away from where we live, and we never quite know what time we are going to get finished with work each day, we have been voting absentee for quite some time now. Contrary to what the conspiracy theorists want you to believe, it's a viable method of voting.

But again, that's not what this post is about.

For the past 5+ years, @mrsbozz and I have been volunteering as scholarship raters for a local community college that we both attended earlier in our lives. It's the kind of school that a lot of people go to for two years right out of high school and then they transfer from there to one of the major universities in the area or elsewhere in the state.

It's been around for as long as I can remember and it has grown immensely since my time spent there. There is zero housing available on the campus, so it is 100% a commuter school and you often see a large number of non-traditional students attending.

If you aren't familiar with the term, non-traditional students are basically adults who have decided to go back to school to get their degree. They have always been a staple at this particular college, even when I went there. It wasn't uncommon to have five to ten single mom's or older gentlemen in your classes each semester.

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Each year we receive an email from the person who runs the program asking if we would like to be raters again. @mrsbozz and I usually have a short discussion asking each other if we want to, but we always end up doing it. It helps them out and it keeps us sharp.

In fact, I think that my time on Hive has made me a better rater and I also think that my time rating has made me a better author and curator on Hive.

Each application consists of a bunch of questions that we never see as raters. We don't even know who the person is unless they write their name in the essay portion of the application. Which is good since my wife and I both work in a public school district. There is a good chance we have unknowingly rated at least one or two applications from current or former students of our district.

What we see on our end is two questions that the applicants are supposed to answer in at least 150 but no more than 260 words (each). The first question goes something like this:

"What is your career goal and why did you choose that career?"

and the second question reads as follows:

"If you could go back and change one decision in your life (or behavior), what would it be and why?"

Each year we get about 36 applications that we need to review and we have three categories that we rate each question on.

First, we give it a rating based on whether they met the 150 to 260 word requirement. If they go over or under they get docked points. Then we rate the responses based on grammar and spelling. More errors obviously result in a lower score.

Finally, and most importantly, we rate the answers based on their quality. Did they answer the question? Did they demonstrate knowledge of the field or provide statistics, and finally was there an emotional connection.

It used to be a pretty cut and dry process, but over the years things have begun to evolve. @mrsbozz was saying this year that she had a fair number of low quality submissions. Cases where they didn't even bother trying to hit that 150 word mark. Other responses where they basically just phoned it in.

This local college is well known for its health program, so you often seen quite a few nurses, dental hygienists and similar aspirations from the applicants. This year I had a large number of people who wanted to be sonogram operators.

Given the recent legalization of cannabis in Michigan, I had an applicant last year who wanted to run a grow operation.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that this year I had a submission to the first question that I was pretty sure had been written by AI. I ran it through several checks and it was indeed flagged as AI.

I wanted to give the person the benefit of the doubt,

so I checked their answer to the second question in case they were just a good writer who knew how to lay out their thoughts in a proper manner. Their second response proved without a doubt in my mind that they had used AI for the first question.

I also had a couple of responses where I am pretty sure the person doesn't speak English as their primary language. It was pretty obvious they had used a translation program. The grammar was all over the place and didn't flow well.

I reached out to the supervisor and asked what we should do in the case of AI content or translations. She indicated that each application is reviewed by three people and the combined score is taken and averaged for the final score. She said, rate it as I see fit. I can take into account if there was a emotional connection despite the spelling errors or generated content.

So that's what I did.

It's been really rewarding doing this. It's something we can do behind the scenes without a lot of fanfare, but we know we are making a difference and helping our community.

Finally, I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite responses this year. Answering the first question the person stated that their career goal is to get a job where they can work at home. They went on to explain that they currently work for a courier service and they want to have a job where they don't have to worry about finding a bathroom when they need to go.

You can't make this stuff up!


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They went on to explain that they currently work for a courier service and they want to have a job where they don't have to worry about finding a bathroom when they need to go.

Hahaha, that's awesome. Well, at least they were honest. I'd say that counts for something. Good reason!

I can't even remember how I scored their essay at this point. I feel like a lot of it kind of rambled, so I think I knocked off points for that.

You can actually suggests the students to join Hive too :) They seem to be hardworking and goal-oriented, oterwise the'd hardly enroll themselves for further studies. And that's exactly the combo Hive desperately needs ;)

It's not really a two way thing like that, but yeah.

I think that you and your partner are doing an excellent job, since you take very seriously the analysis of the students' answers and that is very important, since you are the perfect filter to obtain mature and honest students, thus reaching student excellence. It was very nice to read you, greetings!

Thank you, I appreciate it!

Sad to see people wanting the basics in a job. Capitalism really does take its toll on low wage marginalized workers.

I totally agree.

That's a great way to give back to the community and help worthy people to move forward with their lives. Pity about the person who had to use AI to write their application, how do they expect to graduate in life?

Their other response was quite well. I actually almost appreciate the people who use AI more than the people who simply say "I don't know what I want to do yet for a career". Even though that's honest.

That last thought was an honest one! It must suck to have to find a bathroom when running around all day. That's a good service you perform, funny how some people don't even try and others go straight to AI. Soon AI may be good enough to take a person's writing samples and write them in the same style as to not be detected. Keep up the good work!

To me, that feels like a waste of AI. I think a lot of this stuff is just wasted potential right now. I want AI to solve problems, not make simple tasks easier. I know a guy that applied for a job at one of the delivery companies. They told him he had to keep a bottle in the back of truck to pee in because they weren't allowed to waste time finding a bathroom. He quit before he even really started.

I don't blame him! AI will replace tasks that people shouldn't have been doing in the first place like simple straight forward paperwork. Why pay someone minimum wage when AI does the same thing for free? People are by nature lazy, and now that they have AI to make something easier they'll do it. Right or wrong it's what will happen.

Yeah, I can see your point. I guess I just haven't had the occasion to need it yet. I'm sure once I do I will be "oh my gosh, where has this been all my life!". I don't blame the guy either. I'm pretty picky about bathrooms in general and public restrooms even more so. I had a business idea a long time ago that was basically creating "bathroom clubs" in large cities like close to tourist areas. You pay a monthly fee and it gives you access to those facilities. The subscriptions would cover the rent and maintenance as well as cleaning. Inside it would virtually be fort knox to do your business.