Why do some Universities Teach Better?

         By Vic Odarve

Some universities teach better than others; hence producing the best quality of graduates. People believe that the performance of these universities largely depends on their management style; may a private or federal government funded. Whatever the reasons, these universities that teach better have common denominators, as follows;

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1.Highly qualified lecturers/teachers. This is the main factor that contributes to the student’s academic success or educational quality. Mathematically speaking, knowledge to be imparted from the lecturers is directly proportional to what lecturers are having.With highly qualified lecturers, there is a predetermined body of knowledge that the teacher should pass on to the student.

These universities believe that the qualifications and competency of the lecturers bear some direct correlation to their work as lecturers.  Retention of these lecturers/teachers maintains the good performance of the institution.  Good lecturers foster student mastery of more rigorous and challenging academic contents. They can create a positive learning environment in the classroom. These lecturers allow students to feel comfortable, safe and engaged – something that all students deserve. The academic success of any school depends on the instruction provided by the hands of able, high quality and committed teachers.

Engineering students

       Engineering students

2. Strong management supports to teachers/lecturers/students. These universities do have a strong support to the lecturers as well as students by having seminars, upgrading activities, incentives, and other forms of relevant enrichments.  Some do have programs for students such as allowing them to spend time in a clinic, establishments, or school to observe the work of a professional in the field. In most cases, the students may participate in the work in addition to field trips and on the job training.

3. Sufficient and modern laboratory facilities. These universities do have better and updated laboratory equipment and apparatus to meet the advancement of science and technology. Hands- on- training develops student skills and first -hand knowledge application from the classroom lectures. Students can conduct experiments that replicate or illustrate a scientific principle introduced in the course. Laboratory experiments are important in courses such as Physics, acoustics, thermodynamics, and mechanics. Laboratory sections usually augment lectures or discussions in the classrooms. Speech laboratories allow students to listen to audio tapes or use other interactive forms of instruction. These laboratories can provide necessary training for students’ creativity, insight, and analytical skills.

Advising student

                        As adviser

4. Offer competitive salaries. These universities offer attractive salaries to the lecturers. Good salaries tend to attract more competent teachers. The managements believe that with good salaries, lecturers would stay longer at the university, meet the cost of living, bring contentment to the teaching profession, and drive motivation in the day to day activities in the classroom.  The management does not focus too much on monetary profit.

 Universities with the above features teach the students better; hence producing world class graduates – extremely well prepared for high skilled-level jobs globally and potential for future world leaders and great statesmen. In contrast, low-performing schools do not give much attention to the above school environments.

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Practice Makes Perfect in Math

By Vic Odarve

To practice is to learn. That is learning by doing! And so is mathematics! The same principle can be applied to pass the course in mathematics! An old adage “Practice makes perfect” holds true. After the classroom illustrative examples, solved step by step by the teacher, students must strive hard at home to practice solving by themselves with the aid of the notes. Notes will be put aside only if their confidence is building up and that they can do it by themselves. Teachers often told the students “Don’t stop practicing until you can perfect it!” That’s it!

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Classroom lecture

Practice working out the solution after classroom can be difficult for some students. But if they continue working on the same examples, chances are they can do it perfectly. It can be developed into a habit later. It is often suggested to read and rework the exercises before going to bed and refresh at early morning before going to school.

Difficult exercises in mathematics can be visualized and understood easier by

Engineering students Madonna University, Nigeria, Africa

Engineering students-Practice makes math perfect
Madonna University, Nigeria, Africa

breaking down to its simplest forms. But the visualization and better understanding can be achieved only by constant practice. This is the way of life… being an engineering student. Actual practice works best in mathematics because the solution involves several processes before getting into its final form. Its algorithm. The more you practice the more you understand about why the steps are being done. If done habitually you can explore more techniques and better approaches on

Workbooks are designed for practice solving Math problems

Workbooks are designed for practice solving Math problems

what to do with the mathematical exercises or problems. The more you discover its secrets, the more you love mathematics. One will find this learning method quite fascinating just like wormholes… believed to be existed in our planet and were used by alien to travel to the distant universe!

STUDENTS UNCOMFORTABLE AND TEACHERS’ HAPPY

Teachers often told engineering students to do constant practice in solving mathematical exercises or problems whatever written on the classroom. These ways teachers are molding students to create a strong study habits. That is actual practice or hands on! But sometimes students feel uncomfortable when teachers press them to do more practice at home. There were times when teachers reminded students to do constant practice, they could see their eyebrows rose up and their hairs also rose at their backs. It’s something eerie! Teachers know best that by building this habit they are building the students character and lifestyle. Teachers also want to create the student’s landscape and its environment that they are supposed to live in! These teachers are really working hard to help weak learners and by doing so they feel happy to give the students the best education possible! It is happiness in giving your best to the profession you are in. The great teacher Saint Luke, who traveled far and wide with Saint Paul, worked hard in the early expansion of the Christian church. Thus, he once said,

“In every way I have shown you that by so working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, “Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.”- Acts 20, 35

STRATEGY THAT WORKS

Constant practice in solving exercises and problems develops the skills on mastery and understanding mathematics. These, too, in turn, are the basic ingredients in developing students to analytical and critical thinking skills. That is, breaking any difficult problems down to its simplest forms. This is the strategy that works. In all human endeavors, practice makes perfect!

My Math Visitor

By Vic Odarve

Except for private institutions, the country’s federal state universities and colleges were plagued with teachers’ union strike. Students stayed at their homes waiting for trouble to settle and resume their classes afterward. But one student refused to stop her schooling!

So I am lucky to teach in one of the private universities. No teachers’ union strike!

Engineering Mathematics 1

Engineering Mathematics 1

In one of my visit to the university library to read some local newspaper, one of the students approached and requested me to have some explanation on the math solutions previously discussed in the classroom. “Okay, what part of the topic?” I told her. She opened her notes and showed the steps where she got the problems and I did the explanation and discussion. Satisfied, she said, “Thank you, Sir, I understand already”, she said. Then I said,” How was the result of your last quiz?” “I got 90 % score, Sir”, she smiled. “Good, and on next quiz you must get a perfect score”, I replied. Then she slowly walked quietly and slip away. I paid little attention. She got a good score. So nothing to worry!  She may just serious enough and want to do more on her study every day.

Family tour-Chocolate hills,Philippines

Family tour-Chocolate hills, Philippines

Then, the next quiz came. Only 5 out of 234 students in a class got a perfect score. And she was one of them!

It was then that I gave her an attention. I noticed that during the class session, she sat at the end of the last row of the seats in a packed and overcrowded room. She listened intently and focused to my discussion. No friend, no talking even on her seatmates as if she knew none of her classmates! “She must be too shy”, I guessed.

The semester math course was about to finish. I gave the final quiz before the final exam. “This would be the last quiz”, I told the students. Then what was the result? She got perfect score again! She had done it! “She is a good performing student”, I told myself.

The next meeting I returned the quiz scripts. She was absent. For almost two weeks, I could no longer see her. Then I inquired the course representative and her classmates what happened to this girl. To my surprise, none of her classmates knew her. She vanished and I received no word from her and her whereabouts! I am completely blank!

After two weeks my phone rang. The girl informed me that she returned to her school at the federal university since the teachers’ strike was over. She thanked and told me that she learned and enjoyed math during her stint in my class. It was then I knew that she was my math- visitor. She was not my student! She refused to stop schooling! Then she returned to where she belonged!

 

Professor Challenges Math Students

By Vicodar

Students need to be challenged. That is why in almost all my quizzes in mathematics are open notes, books, etc. just to keep them a challenge. But of course only a few got perfect scores. As for most of the professors/lecturers, we know how far are our students could get the correct answers even though we give them every opportunity to do so. Mathematics is difficult and most students hate this course. But if we let them open notes and books during quizzes, they are smiling ear to ear!

Open books and notes quiz keep students smiling from ear to ear.

Open books and notes quiz keep students smiling from ear to ear.

In addition to open notes and books, I also post the quiz/exam results in the website. It’s another challenge! Posting makes students feel like climbing a ladder. Noting their names on top 3 performers would raise their adrenaline of studying more. Much more, as good performers, students boost their pride such that they invite their parents to visit the website and see their names posted. And seizing this opportunity, students feel they have more bargaining power to secure for more allowance for the next semester. “This is how you would like to be on top 3”, exclaimed one of the students.

How about the professors/lecturers! They will be receiving e-mails that excite their hearts and elevate themselves to the highest level of their profession. Among e-mails they received are citing them as best lecturers, world-class teachers, mathematics genius, the best teacher I ever meet, and many more. Parents sometimes send e-mails for their support of the professors.

Prestigious colleges and universities usually share common denominators; their lecturers/professors are authors of textbooks and journals, etc. This generation of lecturers/professors gives the best education of our youths. It is world-class! A professor who could write books on his field of expertise shows ‘having something’ to impart. You could not give if you don’t have! Thus with their expertise they could lecture well and play the students to the next level of education. They can bring students to dance on their own rhythm or pacing of teaching. It is on this quality of mentors that keep the student’s interested in math. These are the teachers that keep student’s ability to challenge and learn and actively participate in classroom activities. A missing link in most African universities and colleges!

As long as this scenario is present in any higher institutions of learning, students flock to this school and join thousands of others benefiting the best education of the land. One of the lecturers had noticed and told me “Sir, did you know that students are increasing every year and the enrollment is flowing like a river?” Then I replied, ”As long as good/competent lecturers are here; so long live these lecturers, and this gives life to thee”.

This is the picture today, and should remain as is. Father founder philosophy of the institution is simple; this is for the youth the hope of the fatherland, and for those who love education.The day will soon come when these students will be catapulted to be one of the world’s best. Expat –White men lecturers who mould some of these students always say that races don’t exist: there is only the human race, to which we all belong.

LEARNING MATH AT CLASSROOM

LEARNING MATH AT CLASSROOM

Let us learn from plants! It is the nature’s way. Just like learning math at classroom! Plants make use of the quantum physics superposition theory. They harvested packets of light energy and converted to chemical energy with remarkable efficiency. Experts found that photons come in and see many energy paths and the effect called “coherence” helps determine which path is the most efficient to follow. That is it! Plants, the receiving end, maximize the conversion process!

IMG-20131003-00161Students studying mathematics are like plants harvesting the light energy. If students do not find the most efficient way to capture the wisdom of the classroom discussion, they are not converting efficiently the best knowledge that supposes to be imparted by the lecturers. Everything they do from the start to the end of the lectures has something to do with their own learning method.
Classroom lectures work on the same idea as plants do. Students, being the recipient of knowledge, must learn it with remarkable efficiency. Teachers always find the most efficient means to impart the subject to the students the best that they can deliver. Teachers feed them different ways how to solve mathematical problems by breaking these into its components slowly

Engineering Mathematics 1 students batch 2013 First Semester

Engineering Mathematics 1 students batch 2013 First Semester

and slowly. Then finally problems are transformed to its basic operations. This is basically the features of the classroom lectures!
Still classroom lectures are the best means for students to learn fast in mathematics. Teachers are there to instruct, discuss, assist, and show different approaches in mathematics by working out examples and illustrations. Classroom lecture offers opportunities for students to ask questions, offers suggestions and presents ideas, and shares knowledge with others.
In order to help students, the following are tips on how to maximize learning on classroom lectures;

1. Take an advanced reading of the topic for discussion before going to the class. Just read and picture out the new subject matter even you do not have clear understanding. Just a glimpse of the new topic! The idea is to let you feel as if you are in a review mode when you are in the classroom.

2. Listen carefully the discussion done by the teachers. Make notes on important points! This keeps you alert for the whole session. This avoids feeling sleepy or daydreaming. Sometimes teachers could share their own knowledge on things that may not be found in your textbook. Be an active participant.

3. Ask question if you fail to grasp some important points during class lectures. This keeps you from guessing and spending time later on your review. By asking questions, you learn and solidify important points. Understand the why behind every steps of the solution.

High-achievers undoubtedly do more efficient way to maximize their learning in classroom. Though not all students are endowed with wisdom to learn quickly like King Solomon, above suggested tips will help the slow learners in Mathematics. Remember there is no day in our life without mathematics!

Mount Hermon; A Mysterious Mountain

By Vic Odarve

Let us discover Mount Hermon. Known for its majestic beauty, this mountain is approximately 2,814 above the sea level. It borders Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. It is the main source of the Jordan River. Mount Hermon is a very large triple peaked mountain. One of its three summits is the highest point on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This mountain is believed to be the site of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. In the book of Enoch, this mountain is also the site that the 200 fallen angels descended from heaven. These events have profound impacts among the religious faithful; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Why these events happen on this mountain remain a mystery.

THE DANCING SISTERS

THE DANCING SISTERS

TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS

Transfiguration is a dramatic change in appearance. In mathematical language, this is similar to transformations! A change of forms in expressions or formulas that makes our mathematical calculations simpler and easier! That’s why we have logarithms, Laplace, Fourier, Mellin and Z transformations!

Jesus also does transformation. A dramatic change of appearance or transfiguration! It was witnessed by the apostles. He transforms to other dimensions – from earthly appearance to spiritual or heavenly dimension of existence. Among the twelve disciples, only Peter, James, and John had witnessed their Master dramatically transfigured. This transfiguration reveals his glory as the son of God. A true nature of his divine existence!

By transfiguration, Jesus gives his disciples a glimpse of what he looks like when he will be on his kingdom with his Father. Just a glimpse! See what happened! Jesus face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light! Below are the verses taken from Matthew 17: 1-2;

1 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone.
2 Jesus’ appearance was changed before them: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became bright as light.

This thing happened at Mount Hermon….a mysterious mountain!

THE FALLEN ANGELS

There were two hundred fallen angels descended to Earth at the summit of Mount Hermon. These watchers as they are called in the book of Enoch mated with humans. This class of spiritual beings was in charged with the observance and study of creation. And what happened? They transgressed by intermarrying with humanity and introducing forbidden technologies to earth.
They saw that daughters of Adam were beautiful and good looking. All of them took unto themselves wives. This was against God’s law as angels did not need to procreate like humans. As a punishment they could not go back to heaven anymore. These angels violated both their own nature and their office. God cannot forgive their sins. Having families, these angels taught their human wives charms, enchantments, astrology, cutting of roots and acquainted with plants, sorcery, and others.

Since then, these fallen angels were living on and around the area of Mount Hermon. Their hybrid children were monstrous giants called Nephilim. The aftermath of these giants was awful. Upon their death, they would release evil or demonic spirits that will remain bound to the earth. Since then, mankind won’t have any peace. That’s why we have demons and evil spirits.
It was believed that the tribe of Dan which the Antichrist will come from moved to this area during the days of the Judges. They adopted the Canaanite worship of these angels. Caanites Gods, Baal and Ashtaroth, have the origin at Mount Hermon! Following are taken from the book of Enoch 6: 1-3;

And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it.

Again, this happened at Mount Hermon…. A mysterious mountain!

Today this mysterious mountain is one of the hot spots in Middle East. Christians, Muslims, and Jews have contested this mountain for thousands of years. After the 1967 Six-Day war, both Syria and Israel administered military posts on Mount Hermon’s slopes.

Today, thousands of visitors come and visit this mysterious mountain! Some folks believe that this mysterious mountain is one of the Earth’s portals to other universes. A gateway to another world! Nobody knows!

Working Math Exercises; Tips and Benefits

           By Vic Odarve

Mathematics texts/workbooks have something in common: exercise sets are presented at the end of the chapters. That’s why engineering students often wonder what are they for? More so, lecturers often told students to solve some of these exercises and submit the solutions on the next meeting. The message is clear: they are there to be worked out! These exercises are like a passport before students can go ahead to the next chapter. That is it!

Engineering Mathematics 1

Engineering Students

Like a wormhole, it screens whether students are ready for the next topics; also meant to wrap up everything what students are supposed to learn the whole chapter under study.  If the teachers do not give an assignment on the exercises, solve them by yourself for your own benefit. Following are tips on how to work most out of the exercises;

1. As starting point, select one exercise that is similar to your notes or workbooks or the one discussed by your teachers.

2. If you find still difficult and you could not solve anyone of the exercises, go back to the examples from your notes and textbook you are using. Review your example notes and solve without looking the solution. Check if you have a similar answer. If along the way you get stuck up, uncover the solution for a while and see where in the way you get lost. Repeat this process until you can master and understand how it is done. If you are convinced that you comprehend the process, go back to the exercise which is similar to your notes and solve it.

3. Make it a habit of reviewing or checking your work until your final answer. Since most exercises have answers, look and compare your answer only after you thoroughly check yours. If you get one exercise with a correct answer, solve the remaining. This way will build your confidence.

Working math exercises proves beneficial to engineering students. It relates to academic success. Following are common benefits derive from working math exercises;

1. Students who work math exercises perform better on tests or examination. By working exercises, students are reviewing what they cover in class, thus increasing their understanding of the subject concept better.
2. Students develop self-discipline and management skills too.
3. Students feel enjoyment and challenge in mathematics.
4. Students put their new acquired skills into practice. Practice makes perfect.

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Math textbooks- a legacy for the next generation of students

Later, students will realize that what they learn in that particular chapter will be used in the next chapter. Mathematics or workbooks subject contents are presented in sequence. Master the first one before the next. Do not skip. If they could not solve the exercises at the end of the chapter, most likely they will be in trouble the next chapter. Follow the tips. Do it now, do not delay! Solve the exercises! Geniuses in mathematics are a gift from God, but skills could be developed!

Simply by following the tips, academic success and other benefits are yours.

Ask and Learn from your Classmates

By Vic Odarve

It is the simplest thing to do for the students to learn more and pass the course.

Last semester, I had a quiz in Mathematics consisted of four problems. The last problem was the most difficult. Thus, it required an extra mile solution – deeper analysis- so to speak! As expected, the results after marking: only 2 out of 380 students got perfect scores. No wonder, it was difficult. But one of these students who got perfect scores caught my attention. It was intriguing! This student had never been in my list as top performers of the class! After rechecking, I found her script was perfect from the initial steps of the solutions until the very end. The solutions were well presented. Presentation was so detailed that no appreciable error can be seen. When the class resumed, I returned their individual papers or scripts and let her solved the problems on the board. To my surprise she explained very well; discussed  solutions perfectly that the class applauded her. “Thank you, well done”, I commended her after the discussion. Oh my God, I was awed and shocked in disbelief?

Engineering Mathematics

Engineering Mathematics

After a week, I happened to meet and talk her in the library how she was able to solve the last problem. “Yes, very difficult sir but I was able to ask help from my classmate few days before the quiz and we discussed together”. That’s it. It was her secret! Asking help from her classmates! She was referring to the other one who always got perfect score in all of my quizzes –a gifted student in Math!

No doubt! She learned by asking help from her classmates during study and propelled her way to get perfect scores! A simple act yet effective in Mathematics! Asking help from your classmates or teachers is one of the options to learn and pass this course.

Every student runs into problems in Mathematics courses from time to time. Even the bright ones! This is a part of learning process. But students who ask help from teachers or classmates appear to move and recover the lessons easily. Problems are likely getting past by asking help. Resourceful students are doing this way.

Classroom lecture!

Classroom lecture!

By asking, students are benefited! The students may ask help from their classmates and get perfect scores during exams! But every student must know the art of asking either from her teacher or classmates in order to learn most out of it. The following tips help students maximize the benefits of asking from their classmates;

1. Do the explanations. Show the way how you come up the solutions until the steps you lose. The reason is clear: the one who does the explaining will learn the most.
2. When you are working in group or sharing some ideas, share your opinions with others. Don’t let only one person do all the talking. Participate!

Just follow the above tips and it works!

Keep Your Big Mouth Shuts!

           by Vic Odarve

When Joseph visited Dr. Martin’s clinic for HIV patients, some of his friends spotted him. So in a party held for the employees a week later, somebody asked him if he had an HIV. Joseph jokingly said, “Yes, that’s why you had seen me at the clinic last Tuesday”. He just talked without bothering it! Joseph actually had no HIV but merely visited the doctor for some business not related to his health. But when he reported to work the next day, almost everybody thought that he was infected with HIV. The news grew rapidly like a wildfire! “It is horrible!” he said. The news amplified and became unpleasant to his ears when somebody asked him on his health. That was it. It started as a joke and appeared out of control!

Keep our big mouth shuts!

Keep our big mouth shuts!

In one of a work happy hour, Mary shared her stories to the group that school management approved her scholarship abroad. Then somebody asked her question,”What if you will be hired to teach at that university with much higher salary?”Then she replied without bothering herself,”Well, I have to accept the offer”. That was it! A little rumor developed! But to her surprise the message amplified and spiraled to a proportion that it reached to the management. A few days later, her boss called her to his office. The school management cancelled her engineering doctorate scholarship in London.

So, better keep your mouth shuts next time!

See what happened. Joseph felt irritated when friends asked about his health. It brought an unpleasant atmosphere to his working environment. On the other hand, School management cancelled Mary’s scholarship for no apparent reasons. Their common denominator: Both did not keep their big mouths shut!

Biblical story, too, reminds us that it is better to keep out our mouth shuts. Abraham kept his mouth shut from the day he received the message to sacrifice Isaac until the final moments when the angel intervened.

Life is what we make it. Perhaps some intimate details in our lives are better left unsaid. Keep it from public knowledge! Even to our best friends! Or make second thoughts if we want to divulge! By keeping some vital information to ourselves is a safer option than risking ourselves to the outside world. We will soon realize that this world is much wider than just what we know to be our own.

So, keep your big mouth shuts!

The Joy of Helping Others

               By Vic Odarve

My office is open to all students except on some special occasions. And one day, a student came to my office asking assistance on how to derive the famous Einstein equation E= mc2. Upon recognizing that he was not my student, I asked him “How do you know that I can derive the equation?”My friend told me, Sir”, he replied warily.

Final Exam

              Fr. Edeh’s Arch Exam room

Then on another occasion, students came to my office bringing laptops and asking more tips on solving problems on matrices, statistics, and linear programming using MS Excel. The same thing: most of them were not my students! Then I asked them, “How do you know that I can help you?”Our friends told us, Sir”, they replied in unison.

“No problem”, I said to myself. I love to help students. A little help would mean a lot to them. These students are resourceful and they are making the best of things while I am still in this university.

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                  Seminar Workshop

Then one day somebody knocked my office door. I was surprised. He was not a student! He was a university teacher and an owner of a mall in the community. He requested for a website design offering assistance for campus students! I was overwhelmed! I was wondering how he got the information. Without asking questions and hesitation, I made one for him! Later I found out   that students told him that I am making a website for free.

That was it! I designed a website for free. It was a good website design and it attracted students’ attention. It became a big hit in the campus! The news spread like a wildfire in the entire university. Students were asking who design the website! The word was spreading.

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

After a few months and upon their request, I conducted a seminar on website design inside in the campus. The seminar drew much attention to students and community people alike. There I found myself speaking in a huge crowd that I never expected. My heart filled with joy. I could see on their faces how happy the students and community people were!

That’s how the things started. From a student who came to know the E= MC2 and ended on a seminar engagement on website design!

This is life. A little help makes a big difference to our neighbors. Just by helping others freely without expecting something in return! Helping others by sharing your knowledge gives you a happiness that money can’t buy. The events become the opportunity for growth. It motivates us to do more and make our life fulfilling. You feel that you are adored and loved by the students as well as the community people. Sharing our knowledge to the less fortunate makes you always feel happy. It also brings joy to our neighbors, too! You have done something good to your brothers and pleasing to the eyes of our Maker. The bible says,

“Let each of us bring joy to our neighbors helping them for the good purpose, for building up.”
– Romans 15, 2

I did it for the glory of God the Father! And to the one sitting on His right hand where no angels and prophets were ever admitted!