What I wish students would understand about writing for a college class, part 2

As I said in my last post, I completely appreciate the challenges you go through as a student. Believe me, when I go home after a day of teaching or grading, all I want to do is curl up with a good show on Netflix, binge watch to my heart’s content, and scarf down food.

At the same time, I know that’s not helpful or healthy. Further, that doesn’t get my WORK done. College is true work, both for the student and the instructor. That said, I hope you remember this simple fact…

This quote has gotten me through a lot of pain, frustration, and challenges I’ve faced over the last few years. As I told one group of students, I had good grades and generally, school came easy to me. At the same time, I can be fully honest and tell you that college was still tough for me.

The classes I am most proud of in college aren’t the ones I earned As in, though. The grades I am MOST proud of are the hard-fought Bs, the classes I struggled through, the ones that I had to spend extra hours in a lab looking at rocks or writing the same paper for the fifteenth time. One instructor flat-out told me my paper wasn’t good enough and that I would need to redo it (again) if I wanted a B. Yes, at the time, I was furious; I’m a good writer! I’ve been told so all my life…

But writing for THAT instructor was different; his standard was harder, more direct. It wasn’t about flowery language (my strong suit in high school); rather, he wanted me to fulfill the page requirement by supporting my ideas more effectively. He wanted TRUE content, not fluff, and when he said 3 pages minimum, he meant that I shouldn’t end the paper until the top of the fourth page, not 2 inches from the bottom of page 3.

If you’re frustrated, I get it. But come talk to me about it before you hand in something that you think “will do.” I don’t want your “will do” work; I want your BEST work.

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