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(Slate)   Everybody hates the college essay -- the students writing them and the professors grading them. So why are they still being done?   (slate.com) divider line 78
    More: Interesting, Everybody Hates, college essay, University of Missouri-St, Waste of Time, professors, The Sun Also Rises, Virginia Woolf  
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3215 clicks; posted to Main » on 14 Dec 2013 at 6:50 PM (35 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



78 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-12-14 04:33:26 PM
That's quite a gun-in-mouth view of higher education you got there.
 
2013-12-14 04:43:20 PM
I liked writing essays, usually an easy A for me. Multiple choice exams, however, tripped me up. I always talked myself out of the right answer.
 
2013-12-14 04:51:10 PM
Essays are great because they teach you how to bullsh*t. An essential skill in life.
 
2013-12-14 04:53:12 PM

NewportBarGuy: Essays are great because they teach you how to bullsh*t. An essential skill in life.


Exactly.  People who can't bullsh*t turn to crime or suicide at some point.
 
2013-12-14 05:26:12 PM
Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

The first reason people don't like college essays is that they have many rules. This means that when a person writes an essay, he or she has to follow specific rules, like not writing in the first person. "First person" means "a set of words or word forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person who is speaking or writing" (Merriam Webster). First person is considered informal and therefore cannot be used in college essays, which are considered formal. Therefore, if the writer of an essay doesn't know the rule about not writing in the first person, he or she will not write correctly. There are other rules that a writer must know to write an essay but the first person rule is a big one.

The second reason people don't like college essays is that they require citation. An essay writer cannot just say something is a fact unless it comes from somewhere else. This is called citing a source. An example of citing a source is in the previous paragraph of this essay, in which the writer used the term "first person" and then cited where the definition for it came from, which was the Merriam Webster dictionary. If a writer turns in an essay without at least one cited source, it will receive a bad grade and so citing sources is very important. However, citation takes a long time and so this is another reason why people don't like writing essays.

The third reason people don't like college essays is that they are hard to grade. This is because the college professors must read each one from start to finish to know if the writer followed the rules and used citation, and when a professor has many students this can take a long time. Also, lots of students sometimes think that they deserve a better grade than the professor gives them, and this is why they have to keep Office Hours. Office hours are the hours that a professor has to be in his or her office to talk to students.

As stated above, there are there many reasons that people don't like college essays. Those reasons include that they have many rules, that they require citation, and that they are hard to grade. There are other reasons that people don't like college essays, but those are three important ones. In conclusion, college essays are hard and many people don't like them.

I have neither given nor received any help on this work, nor am I aware of any infractions of the Honor Code.
 
2013-12-14 05:26:34 PM

thamike: NewportBarGuy: Essays are great because they teach you how to bullsh*t. An essential skill in life.

Exactly.  People who can't bullsh*t turn to crime or suicide at some point.


They become bankers or try to commit suicide?
 
2013-12-14 05:38:40 PM
Because they listen to how your dumb ass talks and texts.. Those colleges want to make sure you can actually put together a coherent thought on paper.
 
2013-12-14 06:22:55 PM
I like the quip about plagiarism at the start of the article. I don't know about the author's school, but we punish plagiarism severely.  The minimum punishment is usually a zero on the assignment (easiest for the professors, because they don't need to involve the disciplinary committee), but it's not uncommon for the really egregious ones to actually be expelled.  In the case of international students, this results in a revocation of their student visa and deportation.  In the case of all students, it means a whole lot of student debt and exactly nothing to show for it.

And you know what? We don't have a big problem with plagiarism.
 
2013-12-14 06:53:38 PM
Because the measure of whether something is useful or not isn't whether you like it or not.
 
2013-12-14 06:53:57 PM

Pocket Ninja: Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

The first reason people don't like college essays is that they have many rules. This means that when a person writes an essay, he or she has to follow specific rules, like not writing in the first person. "First person" means "a set of words or word forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person who is speaking or writing" (Merriam Webster). First person is considered informal and therefore cannot be used in college essays, which are considered formal. Therefore, if the writer of an essay doesn't know the rule about not writing in the first person, he or she will not write correctly. There are other rules that a writer must know to write an essay but the first person rule is a big one.

The second reason people don't like college essays is that they require citation. An essay writer cannot just say something is a fact unless it comes from somewhere else. This is called citing a source. An example of citing a source is in the previous paragraph of this essay, in which the writer used the term "first person" and then cited where the definition for it came from, which was the Merriam Webster dictionary. If a writer turns in an essay without at least one cited source, it will receive a bad grade and so citing sources is very important. However, citation takes a long time and so this is another reason why people don't like writing essays.

The third reason people don't like college essays is that they are hard to grade. This is because the college professors must read each one from start to finish to know if the writer followed the rules and used citation, and when a professor has many students this can take a long time. Also, lots of students sometimes think that they deserve a be ...


/Citation needed
 
2013-12-14 06:55:21 PM
I don't hate it. In fact I quite enjoy it. Would MUCH rather write papers than do tedious daily homework or the abysmally EVIL and USELESS group project. Seriously, without essays wtf is left of school?
 
2013-12-14 06:57:52 PM
I also notice that the opinion of the article writer doesn't match many people I know in academia. However, it has become more common and I think it's largely because of the dumbing down of education and society. The reason people like the article writer see so many plagiarists and poorly written papers is that we let people into college that have business even graduating high school. Start failing all the idiots (and beating all the attitude problems), and the rest will work itself out naturally.
 
2013-12-14 06:58:33 PM

Pocket Ninja: Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

The first reason people don't like college essays is that they have many rules. This means that when a person writes an essay, he or she has to follow specific rules, like not writing in the first person. "First person" means "a set of words or word forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person who is speaking or writing" (Merriam Webster). First person is considered informal and therefore cannot be used in college essays, which are considered formal. Therefore, if the writer of an essay doesn't know the rule about not writing in the first person, he or she will not write correctly. There are other rules that a writer must know to write an essay but the first person rule is a big one.

The second reason people don't like college essays is that they require citation. An essay writer cannot just say something is a fact unless it comes from somewhere else. This is called citing a source. An example of citing a source is in the previous paragraph of this essay, in which the writer used the term "first person" and then cited where the definition for it came from, which was the Merriam Webster dictionary. If a writer turns in an essay without at least one cited source, it will receive a bad grade and so citing sources is very important. However, citation takes a long time and so this is another reason why people don't like writing essays.

The third reason people don't like college essays is that they are hard to grade. This is because the college professors must read each one from start to finish to know if the writer followed the rules and used citation, and when a professor has many students this can take a long time. Also, lots of students sometimes think that they deserve a be ...


And that's why PN has a special color, just for PN.

/essays are the language equivalent of "show your work"
 
2013-12-14 07:00:04 PM
God forbid we teach students how to make a clear point instead of just regurgitate True or False back or Multiple Choice back at the instructor.

/I weep for this country - it's like we're purposely trying to make kids stupid.
 
2013-12-14 07:00:24 PM

Pocket Ninja: Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

The first reason people don't like college essays is that they have many rules. This means that when a person writes an essay, he or she has to follow specific rules, like not writing in the first person. "First person" means "a set of words or word forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person who is speaking or writing" (Merriam Webster). First person is considered informal and therefore cannot be used in college essays, which are considered formal. Therefore, if the writer of an essay doesn't know the rule about not writing in the first person, he or she will not write correctly. There are other rules that a writer must know to write an essay but the first person rule is a big one.

The second reason people don't like college essays is that they require citation. An essay writer cannot just say something is a fact unless it comes from somewhere else. This is called citing a source. An example of citing a source is in the previous paragraph of this essay, in which the writer used the term "first person" and then cited where the definition for it came from, which was the Merriam Webster dictionary. If a writer turns in an essay without at least one cited source, it will receive a bad grade and so citing sources is very important. However, citation takes a long time and so this is another reason why people don't like writing essays.

The third reason people don't like college essays is that they are hard to grade. This is because the college professors must read each one from start to finish to know if the writer followed the rules and used citation, and when a professor has many students this can take a long time. Also, lots of students sometimes think that they deserve a be ...


reactiongifs.me
 
2013-12-14 07:00:51 PM

NewportBarGuy: Essays are great because they teach you how to bullsh*t. An essential skill in life.


That's something that comes as a rude wake-up call to naive idealistic Asperger's cases. They are the ones who need to learn and believe it as soon as possible. But it needs to be spelled out that they're learning to BS, because they'll never figure it out on time...
 
2013-12-14 07:00:56 PM

Pocket Ninja: Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

The first reason people don't like college essays is that they have many rules. This means that when a person writes an essay, he or she has to follow specific rules, like not writing in the first person. "First person" means "a set of words or word forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person who is speaking or writing" (Merriam Webster). First person is considered informal and therefore cannot be used in college essays, which are considered formal. Therefore, if the writer of an essay doesn't know the rule about not writing in the first person, he or she will not write correctly. There are other rules that a writer must know to write an essay but the first person rule is a big one.

The second reason people don't like college essays is that they require citation. An essay writer cannot just say something is a fact unless it comes from somewhere else. This is called citing a source. An example of citing a source is in the previous paragraph of this essay, in which the writer used the term "first person" and then cited where the definition for it came from, which was the Merriam Webster dictionary. If a writer turns in an essay without at least one cited source, it will receive a bad grade and so citing sources is very important. However, citation takes a long time and so this is another reason why people don't like writing essays.

The third reason people don't like college essays is that they are hard to grade. This is because the college professors must read each one from start to finish to know if the writer followed the rules and used citation, and when a professor has many students this can take a long time. Also, lots of students sometimes think that they deserve a be ...


Did not follow APA guidelines when citing sources   -10 pts.
 
2013-12-14 07:01:21 PM
Not gonna lie, writing about things in college did better help me understand them.
 
2013-12-14 07:05:16 PM
Because you can buy your way to test scores, you can slide through any number of soft public or private schools anywhere and you can do all the right "activities" to make your application look stellar but, in the end, you have to show intelligence, workmanship and creativity in order to get anywhere (usually).

Writing isn't the only way to demonstrate those things but it is, still, one of the best measuring sticks.
 
2013-12-14 07:11:16 PM

Pocket Ninja: Therefore, if the writer of an essay doesn't know the rule about not writing in the first person, he or she will not write correctly.


There is actually no rule against the first person per se in formal prose. If you have a good reason to refer to yourself, you should be able to do so. But more often than not, less experienced writers will use it as an invitation to talk about themselves and their unsupported opinions and responses without good reason.  It's easier for a lot of professors to say to those students, "Don't write in the first person" than to get into constant arguments about it.  By the time you're in graduate school, the presumption is that you know what you're doing, and all those rules go right out the window.
 
2013-12-14 07:11:42 PM
So why are they still being done?

Because until one requires students to demonstrate their own ideas and analysis one has no idea if they truly know their asses from their elbows.

But hey, keep telling yourself that taking that multiple-choice test in the 400-student lecture class at that big-name university is gonna get you as good an education as actually interacting one-on-one with a professor at a small liberal arts and sciences college.
 
2013-12-14 07:13:33 PM
I loved writing essays; I once got Jerry Springer, Darwin, Charles Dickens, and The Three Stooges in a paper - it was awesome and great fun to write.  Got an A.  My papers were never boring.
 
2013-12-14 07:14:46 PM

Fubini: I like the quip about plagiarism at the start of the article. I don't know about the author's school, but we punish plagiarism severely.  The minimum punishment is usually a zero on the assignment (easiest for the professors, because they don't need to involve the disciplinary committee), but it's not uncommon for the really egregious ones to actually be expelled.  In the case of international students, this results in a revocation of their student visa and deportation.  In the case of all students, it means a whole lot of student debt and exactly nothing to show for it.

And you know what? We don't have a big problem with plagiarism.


The teacher is misguided, in my opinion. If what she wrote is a chunk of what she believes, she doesn't like teaching very much.
 
2013-12-14 07:14:47 PM
Pocket Ninja is a national treasure. No cite, but res ipsa loquitur.
 
2013-12-14 07:15:47 PM
I'm one of those assholes who liked writing essays because they were easy, didn't take very long and always got good grades. Multiple choice tests were good, too. I think they actually tend to be harder than open ended tests, but I'm good at figuring out the answers based on the options even when I don't know what the question is, especially if it's math, so it balanced out.

No, the thing that always got me were open note tests, because they'd need way more specific answers than usual in an open ended format and I never took notes on anything.
 
2013-12-14 07:17:34 PM
I do a lot of editing for people and am consistently amazed by how terrible the average university student is at even really basic writing. Every student is required to take English 101 or an equivalent but the course has been watered down to the point it is useless at actually teaching essential writing skills. The final paper is 1500 words. It is pathetic. My high school required essays of that length a decade ago when I was in grade ten. Even that was dumbed down compared to what my parents were required to write.

I'm pursuing a biology degree so essays are not a frequently used learning method in my classes, but I wish they would encourage the use of them. Lab reports are fun, but too many scientists are terrible writers.
 
2013-12-14 07:17:35 PM
This article is just  so damn petulant too. All the sarcastic, snide asides to her hypothetical student readership seem remarkably unprofessional and whiny. Yeah, your job sucks, but you knew exactly what was going to be asked of you when you took it, and you at least TA'd in grad school. Don't get a job in a coal mine then start freaking out about how tedious and shiatty it is to swing a pick axe into rock (or something).

I spent time in grad school with people like this, who complain about the majority of their labor being spent on grading. What's your ideal? Getting paid to sit in a room and think, occasionally descending upon the populace to lead a glorified book club discussion?
 
2013-12-14 07:17:43 PM

Pocket Ninja: Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

B-


You cited one source. But the syllabus said a MINIMUM of THREE..1..2..3 sources. So I knocked you down for that. Also, as this is Freshman Comp course the first essay was required to be 1000 words and you were only 1/2 that. In fact, I would have given you a C for just those two reasons but your essay made the professor SMILE. So a B-
 
2013-12-14 07:18:57 PM
Jesuz christ on a pogo stock. Now the task of making a reasoned argument with evidence is under attack simply because it's too much work.? Persuasive written communication is what separates us from the animals. Work is hard. Deal with it.


I'm all for trying new things to help advance the field of learning but fark these people. Fark them up their stupid arses. There. That's my argument.
 
2013-12-14 07:22:38 PM
I got a bunch of Cs one semester because I didn't write any papers.  Looking back, sure they are pointless wastes of time, but I should have just bit the bullet and shiat them out.

As for essays, I found I liked the ones that didn't require a certain length.  Forcing people to pad answers is just a silly pain in the minimi.
 
2013-12-14 07:23:04 PM

Pocket Ninja: Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEedFHxSVSI
 
2013-12-14 07:24:39 PM
Maybe it would be a good idea if most college students were functionally literate. A radical thought, I know, but there it is.
 
2013-12-14 07:27:53 PM

theusercomponent: Pocket Ninja: ...The third reason people don't like college essays is that they are hard to grade. This is because the college professors must read each one from start to finish to know if the writer followed the rules and used citation, and when a professor has many students this can take a long time. Also, lots of students sometimes think that they deserve a be ...

Did not follow APA guidelines when citing sources -10 pts.


Wow, docking him a full grade. You're harsh.
 
2013-12-14 07:34:58 PM

Pocket Ninja: Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

The first reason people don't like college essays is that they have many rules. This means that when a person writes an essay, he or she has to follow specific rules, like not writing in the first person. "First person" means "a set of words or word forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person who is speaking or writing" (Merriam Webster). First person is considered informal and therefore cannot be used in college essays, which are considered formal. Therefore, if the writer of an essay doesn't know the rule about not writing in the first person, he or she will not write correctly. There are other rules that a writer must know to write an essay but the first person rule is a big one.

The second reason people don't like college essays is that they require citation. An essay writer cannot just say something is a fact unless it comes from somewhere else. This is called citing a source. An example of citing a source is in the previous paragraph of this essay, in which the writer used the term "first person" and then cited where the definition for it came from, which was the Merriam Webster dictionary. If a writer turns in an essay without at least one cited source, it will receive a bad grade and so citing sources is very important. However, citation takes a long time and so this is another reason why people don't like writing essays.

The third reason people don't like college essays is that they are hard to grade. This is because the college professors must read each one from start to finish to know if the writer followed the rules and used citation, and when a professor has many students this can take a long time. Also, lots of students sometimes think that they deserve a be ...


Bravo!
 
2013-12-14 07:35:15 PM

Prey4reign: thamike: NewportBarGuy: Essays are great because they teach you how to bullsh*t. An essential skill in life.

Exactly.  People who can't bullsh*t turn to crime or suicide at some point.

They become bankers or try to commit suicide?


There's a subtle yet fundamental difference between bullsh*tting and lying.
 
2013-12-14 07:37:45 PM
Having read and graded thousands of papers each semester as a graduate teaching assistant, I always tried to give a little verbal praise to the students who did a good job, and I would usually bend the rules for them if they wanted something.  Compared to the lazy crap most students turned in, a well-written paper was a breath of fresh air after wading through most of that excrement.
 
2013-12-14 07:39:33 PM

Pocket Ninja: As stated above In conclusion, there are there many reasons that people don't like college essays. Those reasons include that they have many rules, that they require citation, and that they are hard to grade. There are other reasons that people don't like college essays, but those are three important ones. In conclusion As stated above, college essays are hard and many people don't like them.


No points deducted.

Too many contractions.  This is supposed to be a formal essay!
 

LATE -10
 
2013-12-14 07:41:04 PM
The biggest complaint I have against essays is the minimum length or wordcount requirement. A concise point in 300 words is far better than a rambling idiotic mess of 1000.

Pocket Ninja holds the title of Snarkum Emeritus
 
2013-12-14 07:41:57 PM
I read freshman essays for a living, which is why I never read any of Pocket Ninja's posts. The two sure do have an awful lot in common. Both are equally excruciating, at least.


And yes, I'm fully aware how unpopular the above opinion will be.

/Doesn't make it wrong.
//Back to grading.
///Sigh...
 
2013-12-14 07:42:05 PM
tl;dr nobody likes essays because they require effort
 
2013-12-14 07:42:28 PM
I like the quip about plagiarism at the start of the article. I don't know about the author's school, but we punish plagiarism severely.  The minimum punishment is usually a zero on the assignment (easiest for the professors, because they don't need to involve the disciplinary committee), but it's not uncommon for the really egregious ones to actually be expelled.  In the case of international students, this results in a revocation of their student visa and deportation.  In the case of all students, it means a whole lot of student debt and exactly nothing to show for it.

And you know what? We don't have a big problem with plagiarism.
 
2013-12-14 07:46:20 PM

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: The biggest complaint I have against essays is the minimum length or wordcount requirement. A concise point in 300 words is far better than a rambling idiotic mess of 1000.


The biggest complaint I have against essays is that students who write rambling, idiotic messes of 1000 word essays also almost without fail compose rambling, idiotic 300 word messes. The only difference is in the latter case, they practice less and thus are less likely to improve in the future.
 
2013-12-14 07:46:50 PM
Because I had to do it, so you have to do it.
 
2013-12-14 07:48:39 PM
I generally got good grades on my essays and papers and I generally enjoyed writing them.  What killed me though were the professors that assigned a five page essay and then, after all the papers were turned in, announced to the class that anything less than ten pages would automatically be getting a C.  Passive aggressive bastards.
 
2013-12-14 07:51:03 PM
Many people hate the college essay. These people include the students who write them and the professors who grade them. They hate the college essay for many reasons. These reasons include that essays have many rules, essays require citation, and essays are difficult to grade.

-Rand Paul
 
2013-12-14 07:51:31 PM
writing stuff is stupid whoneeds to knwo this shti i ma doing sjust fon ien life witjhout fancy education oand wqriting skillz htansk

hth
 
2013-12-14 07:53:52 PM

axeeugene: Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: The biggest complaint I have against essays is the minimum length or wordcount requirement. A concise point in 300 words is far better than a rambling idiotic mess of 1000.

The biggest complaint I have against essays is that students who write rambling, idiotic messes of 1000 word essays also almost without fail compose rambling, idiotic 300 word messes. The only difference is in the latter case, they practice less and thus are less likely to improve in the future.


But an arbitrary guideline only encourages filling space to meet that guideline. Telling a student to write until they feel the topic is covered seems to be a far more efficient option (which of course, relies on the assumption that high school graduates can write to begin with).

Incoming Anecdata! In my undergraduate time, I had one professor who assigned papers with no length requirement and then had the students defend their point in front of the class. Questions were encouraged and the "length = good" crowd were quickly out of the class. Now, this professor had tenure and a superb community endowment set up (localized history on the Harmonist cult, with a specialization in preservation and archeological symbolism for the late 19th century). Still, it was a fantastic class that I should NOT have been able to take (Finance/Econ major with an adviser that knew how to get stuff done).
 
2013-12-14 07:53:55 PM

Omnis_evil_twin: I generally got good grades on my essays and papers and I generally enjoyed writing them.  What killed me though were the professors that assigned a five page essay and then, after all the papers were turned in, announced to the class that anything less than ten pages would automatically be getting a C.  Passive aggressive bastards.


0.o

Did you not raise hell?

Was that grading scheme specified in the syllabus?

/either fishy story or fishy school
 
2013-12-14 07:57:45 PM
There was a time in college when I'd write essays on random shiat just to keep my thoughts in order.

shiatting out 10 pages with citations is easy if you care about the topic.

/had some fun times using essays to argue points the prof did not want to discuss in class
//always got a A on those, too
///today's snowflakes are farking lazy.
 
2013-12-14 07:58:53 PM
Intro:
Hook (3 sentences),
Connector (3 sentences),
Thesis
Body 1:
Topic sentence,
Evidence,
Analysis (1),
Analysis (2),
Analysis (3),
Transition,
Evidence 2,
Analysis (1),
Analysis (2),
Analysis (3),
Concluding sentence
Body 2:
Topic sentence,
Evidence,
Analysis (1),
Analysis (2),
Analysis (3),
Transition,
Evidence 2,
Analysis (1),
Analysis (2),
Analysis (3),
Concluding sentence
Body 3:
Topic sentence,
Evidence,
Analysis (1),
Analysis (2),
Analysis (3),
Transition,
Evidence 2,
Analysis (1),
Analysis (2),
Analysis (3),
Concluding sentence
Conclusion:
Sum up all of your elements, and make your essay sound finished.
(Use about 7 sentences similar to the intro)
Best essay ever.
 
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