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Posts Tagged ‘college’

 Title Page (free image from www.fromoldbooks.org)

As I prepare to leave my job, I thought of all the things I have seen in my five years working in college admissions (lately, working as the admissions processor). So, I will offer up my sarcastic, cranky thoughts to you, the hopeful college applicant:

  1. If you pay your application fee with a check that has Precious Moments on it or you use little hearts on top of your “i”s, I will put your application at the bottom of the pile.
  2. Since listing your religion is optional, if you don’t know how to spell it just don’t put it on the application (examples seen: Bapist; Cathlick; Agnosetic (my favorite!)
  3. Having an unusual name will boost you to the top of the pile (personal favorite: “Precious Musgrove” followed by “Marajuana War”)
  4. Mysterious stains on your application? To the bottom of the pile!
  5. Application arrives in a teeny tiny envelope folded so many times it looks like an origami frog: bottom of the pile.
  6. If you keep making mistakes and end up crossing out large parts of your application (including your name…) just print out another one and start over, OK.
  7. If your writing is so illegible that doctors admire it, just type it or have a friend print it for you (this is followed closely by: it is probably in your best interest to include your address and phone number on the lines provided if you expect to get an admissions letter).
  8. You really ought to have someone in education give you a second opinion on your admission letter…and not just for spelling and grammatical errors. (Here are some actual bad ideas: mentioning that next week is your five year “Divorcearry”; starting off with “I always wanted to be either a cowgirl or a nurse…” and, finally, writing the letter in pencil and underlining the “important” parts). **look here for 2 amusingly bad college essays**
  9. If you call me over 3 times a day, asking if your transcript has arrived now…say it with me: bottom of the pile. Also, not helpful: leaving a message like, “Hey, this is Sarah wondering if my application arrived. Call me back”…I am supposed to know which Sarah out of the 100’s who applied AND to have memorized your phone number?!
  10. Finally, it pays to be nice to the person who is not only entering your application but will also be typing up your acceptance or denial letter…I wield more power than you know.

Best of luck to you in your education!

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Snow in Town

No, not the usual “I work with incompetent buffoons” (which, BTW, I do…) but something more dire this time. I had to sit in as a witness to a discussion between a faculty member and two students accused of plagiarism.

 Since the students were also rather young, both around 20 years old, there was a lot of, uh, …let’s call it unrestrained emotion. The faculty member had also obviously never had to deal with an issue like this before and was less than tactful. Overall, not a great way to spend an afternoon.

Nothing like watching someones chosen career path crash and burn before your eyes (OK, that’s a mixed metaphor, but you get my drift). The college has a strict policy on these things…one student will be expelled from her program of study (and, effectively, the school) and the other will have the option of starting over from the very beginning and repeating a year’s worth of classes.

Not that I am all soft on those who plagiarize, mind you. As the witness, I didn’t have to do anything except listen to everyone and take notes. It’s just that you kind of feel for these kids, since they were passing the course before this final paper, and it’s not easy to be a hard-ass when they are explaining their side of the story right in front of you.

Still, they clearly did something wrong. Turnitin.com gave their papers a 58% match and the first 7 pages had the exact same quotes from the exact same sources. Oh, and a thing about those “quotes”…the students copied the exact sentences, word for word, from textbooks and did not put them in quotations but instead cited the author at the end of the sentence. So, what looked like a paraphrase was an actual lifting of a sentence. The students claim that they thought this “was the right way” and that that’s what they had been taught.

Now, these are upper level students who have taken at least two composition courses by this time in their studies. However, maybe this is more common than I think, since I found this from a paper by Brian Martin

“Undoubtedly, much of the word-for-word plagiarism by students is inadvertent. They simply do not know or understand proper acknowledgement practice. Sometimes they are taught in high school to copy from sources without acknowledgement (Dant, 1986; Schab, 1972) and the problem persists in higher education. Students are apprentices, and some of them learn the scholarly trade slowly.”

They also claimed that their reference pages were the same because they had the same general topic. So, why were the punctuation, capitalization and grammar mistakes exactly the same on both papers then? Why, because they used an online program that automatically loads their references into the needed format. Hmmmmmn….

There is a very good site here with an alternate view…questioning how schools treat plagiarism. The author talks about how this is used in the syllabus at the start of the course:

“My conflict here is that I don’t lead any other discussion with threats, so why one on plagiarism? Why start off scolding? Why build anxiety and fear when I know that I’ll be asking students to learn complex literacy skills, writing skills, and academic conventions? Why make myself a state trooper to their novice driver?”

 The site goes on to offer some excellent advice and resources for educators.

Today’s meeting ended with the comment that I always find amusing: “Well, we will just go to another school then and tell everyone how horrible it is here!” (followed by the inevitable “I’m hiring a lawyer”) Yeah, OK. And don’t let the door hit you on the ass…

And the picture at the top? I just liked it. Also, it is in the public domain so no citation is needed….but I did get it from an excellent site: Liam’s Pictures from Old Books

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