No Fancy Name
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
doing my duty
I think I have a posse. There's a group of folks in my AmNovel class who were in my VictLit class last semester, and these folks are conditionally classified into the MA program. In other words, they're taking a few semesters of undergrad classes in the English Dept (because their degrees are in things like History or Communications or Business) before they petition to switch into the MA program proper. In OTHER other words, these folks didn't have to take the GRE, don't have to submit a writing sample, and don't have to stress out about whether they're good enough to get in—they're in. This seems very strange to me, almost like someone with an actual BA in English or Comp Lit will have a more difficult time getting into the MA program than someone who needs remedial work.

Anyway, these folks are nice people—they just don't know how to write essays, or even how to approach a topic (even when given a prompt). It's good for me to hang out with them, because I've been helping them figure these things out: good essay topics, how to formulate the essay, how to write 300-word journals that are actually formal responses to essay questions, how to approach the midterm exam (it's a 1000-word response to one of four questions pertaining to the four books we've read so far) and so forth. Yes, I realize the irony of helping them when I've been sitting around freaking out about my own essays.

What concerns me most is that they think they're "A" students because they've been skating through their other undergrad courses. I don't know if they've managed to select courses that do not require formal-ish writing, or what their deal is, but these are people who don't know a thing about MLA format, don't know how to cite a source, and don't even know where to find secondary sources should they have to use them (which they do). So I took one of them to the library after class and introduced her to the MLA bibliography, e-journals, etc.

These three people in particular are all representative of the type of student I've been at various stages of my life: the chip-on-the-shoulder "C" student that isn't listening to anything anyone is telling her and just thinks that she's being picked on because she always got "A"s before even though she really is (now) doing crappy work, the "B" student that could be an "A" student if she had any confidence in her thoughts and writing ability, and the "A" student who got himself there because he asked questions and listened to people. So, since I've been where they are, I feel it's my responsibility to help them to get to a better place: the "C" student needs to chill and listen, the "B" student needs to understand that she can say the craziest shit in the world as long as she can back it up and persuade the reader, and the "A" student needs to keep working hard.

Assuming I actually get into the MA program here, these folks will be my buddies for the next couple of years, so it's cool that they're nice, and they like me, which is a bonus.


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