Oral Comps for Amy
April 4, 2007

I am a mom, and I am a grad student. These might seem like two completely unrelated undertakings, but you'd be amazed at how much my two worlds overlap.

I am finally--and thankfully--in the fourth and final year of my two-year grad program, which means I am finally--and thankfully--graduating in May. You might wonder why I have taken so long to complete this 36 credit degree, and the answer is simple. I'm getting a Master's in Public Administration and let's face it, the s*** is boring. You would have needed some diversions in your educational path, too.

As the crowning jewel of this snoring-boring degree program, I have to pass an "oral comprehensive exam." The academics call it "oral comps" for short, and I simply call it "another-test-that-I'll-cram-for-and-forget-it-all-tomorrow-anyway." But that title is too long for James to remember, so I refer to the test as "poop" when I'm talking to James. For example, "shhhh...Mommy is studying poop, " or "Mommy needs to concentrate because she needs to take her big poop soon."

Anywho, the big test goes like this...my advisor emails me eight questions related to my field of study. I learn the answers to all eight and have to answer four of the questions in front of a panel of my professors. Bottom line is this: you look way too ridiculously passionate about public administration and you get to graduate, or you look like a total and complete dumb-brain and you cry from sun-up to sun-down on May 12th. Both options have their advantages, but I'm shooting for the first one.

I finally got my oral comp questions this week and the studying has begun [sidenote: studying has consisted of me plugging key words into wikipedia and seeing if someone has already done the work for me]. I want to take this time to discuss how the real-me would like to answer a few of these questions.

Because I want you to keep reading, I have paraphrased the questions:

Q. You want to change the culture of an organization to reflect a greater commitment to citizen service. Outline two management strategies to do so.

A. Oh my gosh...I don't care! How about you hire bikini-clad super models to work at the town office and give people and order of mozzeralla sticks when they pay their taxes. That's two strategies...there ya go.

Q. Define the various forms of privatization. Discuss the conditions necessary to ensure the likely success of privatization.

A. 1) Buy mini-blinds, install them and keep them shut.
2) Wear pants when you go to the grocery store, and then keep them on the whole time.
3) When your neighbors are home, rely on silent hand-gestures to show your spouse how exasperated you are with him.

Q. Select a level of government you would like to work for as public manager (federal, state, local), outline your strategy to increase levels of citizen trust in your government agency.

A. Ok, I watch Dr. Phil--I know that people who can't trust have issues rooted in childhood. If they don't trust me, we'll hold a bake sale and use the proceeds to send them to therapy. And if that doesn't work we'll drive 'em out of town...I don't want those types in my world anyway.

Q. Illustrate and explain contrasting perspectives of equity and efficiency in U.S. society.

A. (?) I'm not even going to waste my brain power on that kind of junk.

So there you have it, my real-life answers to the oral comps. Wish me luck my friends!

1 comment:

Michemily said...

So Amy, I was looking through some old posts of yours to make sure I had my info right for my thesis, and I found this treasure. It made me laugh and I felt bad that no one commented to wish you good luck. Yes, I'm two and a half years too late, but I think we both know now that you didn't need any extra luck. You made it. Nice job. And nice writing. Oh, and I hope that all those questions are helping you in your current job.