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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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3213 clicks; posted to Main » on 14 Dec 2013 at 6:50 PM (29 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-12-14 08:01:57 PM
I don't mind grading essays, I just hate having to write detailed comments to justify a grade.  I mean really half of it is just so easy, why do I have to mark every spelling or grammatical mistake, shouldn't I just say the essay isn't English as we know it?  I have students whine over the page limits, I mean really if you just can't write 3-4 pages are you really trying?  That said the vast majority of students really try, and I actually enjoy reading the different interpretations of things that people with different backgrounds present.
 
2013-12-14 08:02:23 PM
Sorry if you went to a liberal arts college, barista-mitter.   Some of us went to real schools and didn't need to write essays.
 
2013-12-14 08:08:19 PM

raerae1980: 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.


Same here. The notion that there is ONE correct answer in most subjects is absurd. Multiple choice tests were invented for one reason and one reason only: Efficient grading.
 
2013-12-14 08:09:40 PM

lewismarktwo: 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.


Really? I always had problems writing too much. We could have a 4 page essay and my first draft would come in at 8 pages. They would have others edit the draft to learn to edit. I would typical get back 3 or 4 edits. I would then evisicate my own paper for being long winded, and covering too many subjects. My next draft would likely get it down to a normal size and work from there.

My favorite paper was a physics assignment. We could write about anything related to the field. Minimum size was 5 pages. I covered telescope technology. I only got half of what I wanted in there and hit 60 pages.

Fun times
 
2013-12-14 08:11:03 PM
I wrote about how I would bang Mrs. Thompson in the administrators office like a screen door in a tornado.  It even involved duct tape, Mazola and a drop cloth.  I knew no one would read it.  I was wrong and became the president of my fraternity.  College didn't do a damn thing for me, 7 years wasted.
 
2013-12-14 08:21:00 PM
I didn't mind the essays in the classes where we were expected to write a page every other night or so anyway on whatever reading material was assigned. Those were the ones that would have you write two outlines for your longer papers, a skeleton and then a final outline.

Don't sneak essays into your midterms and finals if you don't have students writing stuff for you most days anyway, and you won't get shiat and plagiarism back.
 
2013-12-14 08:23:09 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 ...


This gif's for you
 
2013-12-14 08:23:50 PM

limeyfellow: Really? I always had problems writing too much. We could have a 4 page essay and my first draft would come in at 8 pages. They would have others edit the draft to learn to edit. I would typical get back 3 or 4 edits. I would then evisicate my own paper for being long winded, and covering too many subjects. My next draft would likely get it down to a normal size and work from there.

My favorite paper was a physics assignment. We could write about anything related to the field. Minimum size was 5 pages. I covered telescope technology. I only got half of what I wanted in there and hit 60 pages.

Fun times


This is what the folks worried about paper length never seem to get.  It's *easy* to write a lot.  The topics in my class are basically endless- books have been written about them, and it's trivial to add another 2-3 paragraphs to a short paper by following citations/using library databases/using Google Scholar and finding more info.  Many have troubles doing that- they're used to the high school five paragraph essay that's basically bullshiat. Go find more information- you have tools for that I could only dream about when I was your age.
 
2013-12-14 08:30:13 PM
I didn't RTFA, but I assume that the author hates essays because: 1) No-one knows how to write anymore; and 2) The author doesn't want to do the work to teach them.
 
2013-12-14 08:34:15 PM

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: 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).


Nice anecdata! I wish my experience were more reflective of that story. I will say that a length requirement seems...well...required for most students. Whenever I offer them an assignment absent a length requirement, that's always the first thing they ask for. When I say, "As long as it needs to be," I get confused stares, "harumphs", and the like.

If I were to tell the students I have that they should write until they feel the subject is covered as you suggest, I assure you I'd receive nothing more than 2 1/2 page essays that really said absolutely nothing at all. In my experience, incoming freshmen have no concept of how to communicate controversial ideas of even the most basic levels of complexity, yet they believe their one-sentence explanations express answers with utterly incontrovertible clarity.

The funniest thing is, many of them find composing grammatically correct simple sentences to be an insurmountable challenge. Check my profile and visit my blog to see representative samples...ugh...

Cheers!
 
2013-12-14 08:45:12 PM

Psychohazard: 1) No-one knows how to write anymore; and 2) The author doesn't want to do the work to teach them.


You liar.  Only one who read the article could have paraphrased it so succinctly.
 
2013-12-14 08:49:56 PM

raerae1980: 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.


Me, too. If I was writing, I could make sure I covered everything, And I could support my assertions. Multiple choice is hell.
 
2013-12-14 08:50:58 PM

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: 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).


USI? Who was the prof? Pitzer?
 
2013-12-14 09:03:07 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 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.


... Mr. Schag?
 
2013-12-14 09:43:25 PM

Spanky McStupid: 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.


I got to write a (graduate school) paper about history and Assassin's Creed. I've never written a paper where I had to ask the professor how to cite a video game as a primary source.
 
2013-12-14 09:46:25 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.

Pocket Ninja holds the title of Snarkum Emeritus


That's why my grad school professors gave out assignments with a "suggested page length"--and included something along the lines of "but if you can make your point in fewer pages, that's good."
 
2013-12-14 10:08:30 PM

slepygryhnd: Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: 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).

USI? Who was the prof? Pitzer?


Actually, yeah. Pitzer was boring as all snot in the intro to US history class as a freshman but absolutely rocked on the 300 level class.

Kudos to you, madam.
 
2013-12-14 11:17:22 PM
Uh, maybe because learning how to write is one of the more important skills students can have.  Especially essays that require someone to make an argument and defend it.
 
2013-12-14 11:37:27 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 ...


You awesome bastard.
 
2013-12-14 11:42:42 PM
 
2013-12-15 12:05:20 AM
So this person wrote what amounts to an essay to biatch about college student having to write essays?
 
2013-12-15 12:51:30 AM
I always liked going with the left-field hook on essays.  Any idiot can sit in lecture and gather enough to write an essay on Romeo and Juliet as a love story.  But how about treating it as a story of how each generation's political intrigue poisons the well for the next?  Or, digging deeper, R&J as a subversive critique of mercantilism and therefore a hidden dig at Elizabeth I?

Seriously, I bullshiatted my way through countless Comp Lit essays pulling this.  I'd be up at 4:30 AM, read the back of the book for what the story was ostensibly about, then flip to three random places and look for anything that could be read as about anything but that.  Invent a thesis statement.  Write standard essay, citing those three examples of my left-field hook thesis, print, and sleep.

I racked up B+/A- grades all through that course.  The TA once wrote that I had "obviously thoroughly read and deeply contemplated the material" or some such.  That actually kinda made me feel bad...
 
2013-12-15 01:08:07 AM
I shut down turnitin.com to avoid grading essays for a while and where do I find myself? In a goddamn thread about grading essays.
 
2013-12-15 02:37:34 AM

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 ...


an instant classic
 
2013-12-15 10:23:45 AM

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 ...


A+ would read again!
Are they still teaching the 5 paragraph essay in high school and college?
 
2013-12-15 11:00:48 AM

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


Plus it teaches you that if you cant find a quote to support your view, change your views to something supported by a quote (for the purpose of the essay)
 
2013-12-15 01:13:27 PM

hershy799: A+ would read again!
Are they still teaching the 5 paragraph essay in high school and college?


They were in community colleges when I went 2-3 years ago.

/went to one of them liberal colleges that forced me to show my work or whatever
 
2013-12-16 02:16:51 AM
Thank you all for your short essays on the subject. Brevity is the soul of wit.
 
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