Yesterday, one of my professors returned a paper I wrote. She didn't just return mine, she graded and returned everyone's.
Before she gave them back, face red and voice shaking she said, "Some of you are going to be disappointed. I don't know how to make you understand using more than three words of anything you've read without quotations is plagiarism; using any idea that is not wholly your own and not citing it is plagiarism. And I have two words for most of you, 'writing center'. We have one on campus for students. It's free. You get professional editing and help with your work. These papers should be professional quality at this level in your education. If you have any questions about your paper, see me after class."
I don't know about you, but that's not something I want to hear right before an instructor passes out a paper that is worth 1/3 of my overall grade.
Before class everyone was excited to get their papers back.
I like the illusion I mustered in undergrad. Ya know, the one that has me being a good writer? hahaha.
Granted, fiction and research are worlds apart in content (usually) but the mechanics are the same. Graduate papers are difficult because you can't just regurgitate what you research. There has to be analysis, critical thinking, taking what you research and applying the core concepts of the course. Sounds easy until you sit down and realize there are literally hundreds of "core" concepts which apply to literally thousands of pages of research. Oh and the paper can't be over 20 pages and must be engaging. That whole 'bsing' thing doesn't apply at this level either. These professors are still active in the field and can spot bs a mile away.
So, I was playing worst case scenario in my head. C's aren't acceptable in this program, you have to retake the class or quit. And there is no winning the professor over. Our names were on the title page but that was the only identifier to whom the paper belonged.
She ripped the title page off, gave each paper (over 40 of them) a number and graded them. She did it to be fair, so she didn't know whose paper was being graded at any certain time. At the end, she returned the title pages to the assigned number and recorded the grades.
I watched faces as she handed out the papers. One by one my classmate's faces fell when they flipped to the back of their paper where the coveted grade nested.
I thought, "Ok T, only two more seconds of illusion and then you're gonna find out everyone who says you can write, well, they are your friends right?" heh.
She handed me the paper, I flipped to the back and I GOT A FRIGGIN 98%!!!!!!!!! WOO HOO!
I used the contraction "didn't," and she says professional papers do not have contractions.
Ok, I'll file that away. I DID NOT know that...heh.
One person out of 40+students got a 100%. He sits right beside me and is REALLY smart and already in this field, (just needs the MPA to be boss or get a raise or something probably). But WOO HOO for him. He's also one of the nicest people in the program. Quiet, but nice. Just how I like'em;)
In all honesty, I was struggling with this return to school. The amount of time it consumes is mind boggling. I literally spend over 40 hours a week reading and researching outside the classroom. They warned us this MPA is largely writing and research but I didn't appreciate the concept until I was in the thick of it. Some people with full time jobs only take one class per quarter because it is so labor intensive.
And out of 40 plus students, a third over 30, only FOUR OF US have children (that I know of). I never made a correlation between liberal Democrats and childlessness. True or not, I am starting to associate the two. In fact, most students in the program have no desire to EVER have children.
I have lots of childless friends who feel the same way, but never been in a room full of them.
Oh well. I have my babies and my 98%!! WOOT!
This paper's grade helped me feel more confident about my return to academia after a 13 year absence. It calmed the turbulent doubting waters in my head.
We'll see what the next paper brings....hahahahah.