Oh Hey Last Week Of Class, You Sure Are Annoying
December 3, 2008 at 9:05 am
You may or may not have noticed that your UTB editor has been slightly less, well, around lately. We apologize--it's the last week of classes and we have been forced to redirect our ADD away from this blog and towards our coursework. It effing sucks. But you know what else sucks? The fact that, no matter whether we're in an advanced 20th century poetry seminar or some crappy intro course to fulfill the society requirement, our classmates never fail to pepper our professors with the exact same series of inane questions about final papers. Herewith, a field guide:
Is it ok if we write in the first person? Welcome to college! Now that high school is over, you really need to look beyond the whole first person/third person dichotomy, because it's actually more or less irrelevant. Your papers should be formal and should (in most cases) not contain personal anecdotes about your good times at summer camp, nor should they contain that superfluous little phrase "I think" (or the more pernicious "I feel like," which, much to our consternation, is sweeping the Penn community). Ergo, you probably never need to use "I," and if you think you do, you can probably get around it by saying something like "the author." However, if you're really struggling with how to cut the "I"'s out of your paper, just stop. Because it doesn't matter. Too many "I"s may be a symptom of unsophisticated writing, but not the cause. Unless your professor is a complete idiot, he or she will care much more about the bigger picture than the occasional slip into third person. And while we've had a few annoying profs here at Penn, we've found that "complete idiots" are way more likely to be found at the high school level.
Should our papers be double spaced? Yes. And you should also number the pages. And put your name on the first one. This is Mickey Mouse stuff, guys.
What kind of citations should we use? Go look an article or a book you read for the class, see what citations it contains, and use those. Most professors don't care what form you use, and in our experience, the only professors that have a really strong preference tend to be extremely vocal about it, so if Dr. Hasslehoff only accepts Chicago style, it will probably be written in all caps on the syllabus.
Ok, but how do I cite an interview with my grandma/back issues of 34th Street/teh internets/the bible? Right in the middle of class is not the best time to ask this only-relevant-to-you question. Wait 'til office hours, or better yet, try the library.
Will you look at drafts? Are you serious, or are you just trying to provoke the rage of your classmates for your own amusement?
Can we submit our papers through e-mail? You probably already know the answer to this. If your professor is a spineless wimp, yes, and if not, you have to man up and slip it into the mailbox/under the door. Even though the latter pisses us off, running to one of the academic buildings to hand in a paper on time is one of those quintessential college experiences, best to be embraced.
We hate you all, but we'll also kind of miss you. Ciao, fall semester '08!