Things I Learned in College: Papers

…or essays.

Research projects.

Anything that involves thinking and writing, really.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing. That’s why I chose to be an English major, for heaven’s sake. But when it comes to analyzing and creating new ideas/theses, that’s when writing becomes more of a chore, instead of for pleasure.

…And not to forget stressful. Look, here I am, trying to find evidence from the text to back up my claim, and nothing is working out! Perhaps my frustration is due to the fact that:

1) my strategy, for pigeon-holing myself into a claim without having gathered proof to support it, is rather faulty; people have told me that I should work the other way, but when they tell me that, I’m already too deep into the work, and at that point, there’s no backing out. It’s a vicious cycle. 😛

2) I am a perfectionist. Or at least, close to being one without becoming obsessive-compulsive. I don’t want to do the bare minimum; I want my work to shine. Crazy as it sounds, I actually do care about offering my professors a paper that I have worked hard on, having gone through multiple revisions and editing. I strive for precision, just like in my poems (which you could say are “mini-essays” in themselves).

I like it when professors give us the paper assignment or announce the prompt well in advance, at latest two weeks before the deadline. I do not like to procrastinate, compared to some college students who I know. Not to say that procrastinating is completely a bad thing; in fact, some students work better under pressure, and produce some of their best works from it.

But I’m not like that. And I admit, I have come close to all-nighters a couple of times in my English career. The circumstances for that are kind of complicated to explain, but I assure you that it wasn’t from procrastinating. But the fact that I had done it just…sucked. So much. There comes a point in the night (for me, 2 or 3 am) when you just keep thinking, “FML, FML” and your mind just starts going crazy, delirious from the lack of sleep. Usually, though, it turns out all right in the end; you finish, but the consequences from pulling a near all-nighter are so draining.

Then again, essay papers shouldn’t disappear. True, there needs to be standards to evaluate students on their work. Meaning, unlike the sciences and social sciences, we English majors do not have formal in-class exams to take. At least not for the higher-level courses. At that point, everything becomes final papers, final projects, final research papers, final theses, etc. etc. Since there isn’t an objective way to evaluate students for a grade via multiple choice and response questions, English professors need to establish papers as the basis for determining their students’ grade (along with other factors like attendance and participation, but I think those count for less, much less than papers).

Once more, I’m not saying that I loathe writing papers. After all, why would I be in the English major if I hated it? The purpose of this post was to express my love-hate relationship with it: while I don’t like the fact that there are such high standards– imposed or self-imposed–when it comes to coming up with an interesting, refreshing, and debatable thesis, or the fact that the whole process of gathering evidence and pulling *reasonable* analysis from your ass, I enjoy it. Really, I enjoy it all. Writing allows me to flex my creative muscles, and get their juices flowing. I wouldn’t give up my writing abilities for anything in this world.

…And with that, have a good day. 🙂

– The Finicky Cynic


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