Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's the Little Things that Matter

So, I'm back from a little jaunt to the north. I met some really great people and I also had a quintessential academic experience.

I interviewed for a national fellowship program that has sites at several universities across the U.S. As I was writing the application essays I faced a choice in jargon. In many ways the choice was equivalent to the following ways of saying that someone is fat:

"full figured"

Except, this is academia. Selection of any one word over any other word carries with it the weight of countless leaders in the field and any number of known and unknown connotations and implications regarding your academic and personal self.

To my amusement, in my third or so question in an interview with one of the program directors, I was asked, "tell me what you mean when you say roly-poly? Sure enough, in the only marks on my entire sweat-stained essay, he had circled, in red, just those very words. This query led to a discussion that lasted several minutes about the exact meaning of those words vs. the other possible word choices, the appropriateness of the words I selected vs. the alternatives, and the implications thereof.

Looks like I made the right choice.

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