September is back to school time. That has usually been of interest to my wife and children than me. They were the ones who headed off to school, I just went to work. Except three years ago…
It was a crazy move, but I quit my job and went back to school full-time to get a Master’s degree. For the first time in 25 years September did mean back to school for me. It was a complete change of pace, fun, challenging and I just managed to persuade myself not to stay for a Doctorate.
As part of the program I had to occasionally lecture to undergraduate students, as well as grade their papers. Last night when I picked up my phone to see what I had for today’s blog I noticed this piece that has been sitting there for three years. It was a mini-rant I delivered after dealing with the first batch of essays from first-year students. I thought it was good advice then; it’s probably good advice for anyone who has to do any writing.
Spell check is not your friend. Spell check is your enemy. Proof read your paper before submitting it.
Format guidelines are given for a reason – follow them. When you get to fourth year you will find that professors will reject papers that don’t conform to guidelines.
Treat spelling and grammar as religions to be followed without question. When you apply for a job after graduation your resume and cover letter will be rejected if you have errors.
Don’t clutter your paper with unnecessary information. If it doesn’t relate to your argument it doesn’t belong.
Read your paper aloud before submitting it. If a sentence doesn’t sound right it probably needs to be re-worded.
For most people good writing is learned, it does not come naturally. There are many different resources to help you improve your writing skills. If you take advantage of them your grades will improve.
Of course my min-rant did absolutely no good. The next round of essays included all the same mistakes. But at least i tried.