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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 2nd 2014, 09:50 PM

Ok, I generally think I am a good writer. I know I am not perfect. But I'm good at it. I am much better communicating on paper than when I speak even.

But I am also in university. And when ever I get a paper back it's always full of criticisms (grammar, organization, you name it) and that just makes me feel really dumb because then I'm left feeling like that one of the few things I wan to be good at I am really just not good at. And it frustrates me. If I am being perfectly honest, yeah, I'm busy as hell. So by the time I finish writing a paper it's usually due the next day or something. It's not like I have a lot of time to sit around editing and toying with it. I basically write a paper, edit as much as possible, and send it away because I don't have a lot of time to spend on it.

And maybe that's because I am in university and I've never really given a damn before, but now I am seeking out more writing opportunities and need to be able to learn how to write faster - the biggest problem for me is that if I have just written 10 + pages I don't want to look at that ever again, you spend days on it and by the time I'm done I just sit there thinking "wow, I just really don't care any more" cause usually even if I liked the topic it is rare that I get to have control over how I research and write it. I am usually forced to include content and research it in a way that I really hate doing.

I need to find out how to edit things FAST though.




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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 2nd 2014, 10:43 PM

This happens to almost all students, in every discipline offered at universities and colleges. While accepting criticism as a means of growing and developing your skills is important, don't always take it to heart. Personally, I find that essays are extremely subjective. I received a grade of 77% on a criminal law paper in my second year and I appealed it because I thought I deserved higher. After it went through the appeal process and was re-marked, I received a grade of 93% on the paper. To me, that's a massive difference.

The subjectivity of essays is what drove me out of any type of essay course; I avoid them like the plague. But, when I did have to take courses that required essays, I found it was helpful to make the effort to meet with your prof and ask specifically what he wanted to see from the paper. Not only will this provide you with a much better idea of how to structure your essay, but it'll also show the prof that you're serious about getting a good grade and are putting in the effort to do so. Profs like to see that kind of thing.

With regards to editing, I never edited a single one of my papers. I'm lazy. Maybe you can ask a close friend or family member and see if they'd be willing to edit your paper. It doesn't necessarily have to be someone who is knowledgeable about the subject on which you are writing; it can be anyone who has a decent sense of spelling and grammar. Often, the biggest mistakes in editing come from a lack of spelling and grammar - which could have easily been found if the editing was done properly.

Don't let a couple of low grades and/or criticisms get you down - especially when it comes to essays because of how subjective they are in nature.


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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 3rd 2014, 12:18 AM

I always get a sinking feeling when a teacher hands back a paper covered in criticism. But I've learned not to take it personally, or decide that it means I'm a bad writer. I think my teacher just knows more about writing than I do. Which is probably true. Also, I see his edits and comments as suggestions more than criticisms. After all, what's on that page is his opinion of my work, not everyone's. Think of it like this: your professor is not attacking you. He is attacking the paper. Pointing out what he thinks is wrong. Honestly, I love doing this. I'm head editor of my school's literary magazine, and I just love putting my opinion onto the paper I'm editing.

As for editing your papers - put it away for a day after you finish, then go back and re-read. Fix little things like grammar and spelling first. Read any sentences that look awkward out loud to a friend. Fix any little things that you notice, it won't take too long and it will greatly improve your paper.

hope that helped...


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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 3rd 2014, 05:01 AM

This happens to everyone. Don't feel like an idiot: you're at university to learn and part of learning is making mistakes so you can know what you need to improve. Your professor probably isn't thinking so much about it, and they're not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. Your professor is giving you feedback so you can improve and become better at what you do, which will be helpful in the future.

It might be a good idea to start doing your papers a bit ahead of schedule if it's bothering you. Doing your papers the day before is great if you don't mind getting things wrong. Not so much if you don't feel well when you don't. Doing it ahead of time will give you a better chance to revise it and edit it. Editing is much easier when you can put your work away for a bit and then go back as many times as you need, rather than do it fresh out of it or not do it at all.

Does your university have some kind of office you can go to to get help on editing papers? Mine has an open workshop of sorts where you can take in your work if you have trouble with it and they'll give you feedback on things like grammar.

Another thing that might help is talking to your professors and asking for feedback and constructive criticism on what to improve.
   
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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 4th 2014, 10:01 PM

See, the thing is that I am in my 4th year... So I went from a 1st year who could barely get a 60... To now, I usually get 70's and 80's. My grades aren't going to blow anyones mind, but when half you're upper year grades are in the 80-86% range its' a little hard not to be like "yeah, I've done right by my education", but I constantly have professors criticising my grammar which I feel is bad because I want to go into career that involves a lot of writing.... And I just got a 68% on a paper that I got back last week. And that's a bad grade for me, I am usually a fairly consistent person, so anything under a 70% is usually pretty shocking and everyone is always like "grammar... grammar... grammar..." and it's like, ok, what do you want from me?




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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 5th 2014, 11:17 AM

I have to support the idea of getting your papers done early. I've done it both ways, last year I ripped off a few papers the week they were due. This year I'm submitting at least a week before, which means I've started writing long before that. It's saving me a lot of sleepless nights.

The thing is, some people are able to write coherently and well with no preparation or editing. Other people aren't. It's a skill that you can practice! Which is what your professors are doing, they're trying to help you improve by giving you feedback. Don't take it personally though, chances are they're marking hundreds of papers and don't really pay any attention to the name.

Is there a particular style you have to write to? I'm restricted to APA, which is a bonus really - it means that there is a style I can follow, and a book full of examples and what to do. That structure does help. Also, you will often be able to get help from your uni.

To summarise.
- get work done early
- leave it and come back to edit
- ask for help
- practice, practice, practice

(Completely off the topic - Harvey, this year I think I'll end up submitting close to 25k words of essay stuff. Subjective, maybe, but it is allowing me to pursue my interests and show I know my stuff )


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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 6th 2014, 08:27 PM

I cannot physically get a paper done more than maybe 1-2 days ahead of time.... I have 2 part time jobs as a reporter and support worker and I play sports on top of going to school.... I'm pretty much on the go from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed. If I am not working on essays, writing articles, doing research for both, interviewing people for both and editing for both and making newsletters and so on and so fort I am in appointments with my doctor or buying groceries, eating sleeping, at practice, practicing learning a language or so on (all of which is important)...

When I can, I do get things done ahead, but when I have a lot going on it's very idealistic to think it's always going to be possible, a lot of the time it's about all I can do in order to make sure I have enough time for 1-2 edits before submitting an article, essay etc.. Like I wrote 1 short paper of around 1500 words and made up the slides for a presentation, both were done by last night that are due next Tuesday so I'll review them before then. But that's only because I have an article deadline on Sunday and the second thing I have to do is a massive truck load of research and a draft for said research by next Friday and so on and so forth, so it's not like I have a lot of time to dawdle, know what I mean...

I just need to find a way to get the grammar right the FIRST TIME around. And it just makes me mad when I know my writing is good and the profs just pick away at it hard core (and I mean, obviously my writing is good enough to usually get 75% to 85% on papers and I am a friggin news reporter, know what I mean




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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 6th 2014, 10:45 PM

I've been asked to peer review or otherwise grade friends' papers many times in high school (as a newspaper editor) and college. I recall in high school I was an absolutely brutal "grammar nazi." Since then I've eased up a bit, but I still tend to use more than my fair share of red ink. Try not to take your professors' suggestions personally, but make mental note of those that can improve your writing. In my opinion, simple spelling/grammar mistakes are inexcusable in a college-level final draft. If your paper were published, misuses of their/there/they're, for example, would undermine its credibility. For the most part, they're an easy fix - just skim your paper after you finish it and make note of stupid mistakes (printing out a copy helps for me).

Another easy way to lose points is improper formatting or length - my perennial bane in college. I was always the guy who used the wrong citation format, under-cited my work, or tried to manipulate margins and spacing to get 10 pages, lol. These issues can have more difficult fixes and are so irrelevant in the real world that often I didn't bother. You just have to hope your professor didn't co-write the APA style guide!



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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 7th 2014, 11:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Wallflower~ View Post
I cannot physically get a paper done more than maybe 1-2 days ahead of time.... I have 2 part time jobs as a reporter and support worker and I play sports on top of going to school.... I'm pretty much on the go from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed. If I am not working on essays, writing articles, doing research for both, interviewing people for both and editing for both and making newsletters and so on and so fort I am in appointments with my doctor or buying groceries, eating sleeping, at practice, practicing learning a language or so on (all of which is important)...


It's all important? Then, sorry to say, you need to work out what is most important. If you want to do better at your studies, then you will need to devote more time to them. I'd disagree that you can't get a paper done further ahead of time. What I would say is that, based on your competing priorities, you put it lower than other things.

Perhaps you need to consider what you are doing, and think about dropping some of the workload. That does depend on your circumstances.

Quote:
I just need to find a way to get the grammar right the FIRST TIME around. And it just makes me mad when I know my writing is good and the profs just pick away at it hard core (and I mean, obviously my writing is good enough to usually get 75% to 85% on papers and I am a friggin news reporter, know what I mean

Practice, and then there are no guarantees you'll get it right first go. I've been writing academic papers for... *mumbles* close to 15 years. I still make mistakes sometimes, it helps to have someone else go over my papers (they don't have to understand what I'm saying - although that helps (and topic for a different post)).

Again, though, the reason your prof is picking away hard core? To help you improve. Oh, and I know you don't work for my local paper, because they need serious help


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Last edited by Mahray; March 7th 2014 at 11:55 AM. Reason: Fixing formatting of fonts
   
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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 7th 2014, 11:59 AM

Oh, and read. A LOT. Read all sorts of works, but pay attention to academic writing. That can really help (plus, reading relevant academic papers? Helps your learning!).


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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 8th 2014, 01:37 PM

You must not be understanding me. I am in the arts. What I do IS read and write. ALL THE TIME. I am in my last year of university, that's all I've done on huge volumes for years. Literally, that's all I do with my time. I read novels, I read the news, I read academic papers, I read book reviews, I write book reviews, I write academic papers, I write news articles, I write short stories, it goes on and on and on and on and on.

Trust me when I say that A) it's not a matter of reading or writing more when it's all I do and B) its not a matter of managing my time better.... I need to take care of myself (sleeping, eating, exercising etc.), that's not out of line. It's not unreasonable to spend 5-10 minutes a day practicing Spanish. And it's normal to spend time working or volunteering.... That's not the problem.

Practice and how I choose to spend my time are NOT the reasons that I have professors criticizing my grammar... Especially when I am getting GOOD GRADES, I ALWAYS get good grades, if I get anything under a 70% that's just an off paper.... But when grammar is the one thing I need to work on more I need another way to fix it... Like, I don't know, triggering my brain to automatically remember that "oh, these are my common mistakes" so I can pick them up right away (ex. on the 1st edit, NOT on the 5th)




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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 8th 2014, 01:52 PM

Have you ever used an online grammar checker? If it's just grammar that your professors are saying you're stuck on then this could really help.

I occasionally use one for my academic papers - http://www.paperrater.com/

Apart from that I'd suggest asking a friend to proofread it before you hand it in or if there's an academic support service at your university they probably have people who'll proofread papers.
   
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Re: A professors ability to make you feel like a total idiot - March 8th 2014, 04:30 PM

Even people who write professionally make mistakes with grammar. It's why there are people to edit. I would see if your school has a writing center of some sort to proof read or have someone do it.

And there's only so much a person can do. You could hold off on Spanish to get one thing done ahead of time and then use the time you would have used to do that one thing to get ahead on something else.



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