Save Me From Stupid Students

February 12, 2008 at 9:59 pm (Writing Center)

After having worked in the Writing Center for an entire semester, averaging 6 appointments a week, I felt I had seen a good sampling of students here, with various levels of writing skills. Today, I was proven wrong.

The student who came to me for help had a 6 page paper due in a few days and had written part of it, and was already at 5 and a half pages, and wanted help cutting it down. After reading through the paper once, I was confused: he started out with a page of really interesting comparisons involving a play called The Persians and then started talking about justice and brought up another play called Agamemnon and then started giving me a history lesson about the social reforms of a hundred years before Agamemnon was written. So I asked the kid where his thesis was. After much searching, he discovered it. In the middle of a paragraph. On page 4. Of 6. I’m not sure I understand how this kid passed English 103, the required English writing course for all freshmen who didn’t test out with the English AP.

We spent the next hour going over the paper, with me trying to convince him that a paper needs one thesis stated on the first page and then proven throughout the rest of the paper with relevant paragraphs, and him trying to convince me that everything actually was connected and that he really didn’t need to rewrite the whole thing. Essentially, he just kinda sat down and started writing about whatever came to mind, all the while trying to do everything possible not to offend the professor by utilizing wishy-washy language that irritated me beyond belief.

I think this guy just wanted me to tell him that his paper was fantastic and all he had to do was just write a few sentences to finish up that last page.  Instead, I told him that he’d actually have to do some work and actually write a paper that makes sense.  Oh, did I mention that I think he made up a few words and definitely does not know the true meaning of quite a few others?  It astonishes me and saddens me that this institution that I love so dearly accepted idiots like this guy who cannot for the life of him seem to be able to string a few paragraphs together in a coherent manner.  And yes, that is a slight exaggeration.  But only slight.

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