Highlights of Working at a University
How exciting, University of Lies! What, praytell, is the most thrilling part of working at a college?
Is the secondhand high you get from students who come to class stoned out of their faces?
No, fellow internet friends, it’s spending your evenings trying to grade horrible papers with Real Housewives of Who Cares in the background, because you need to know there are people in the world dumber and more irritating than the authors of said papers.
I stare at the pile and have no idea where to begin. Should I just dunk the papers in a delicate mixture of artisanal tea leaves, then used the aged paper to make papier mache birds, which I can sell to try and subsidize my living? that would probably be less work than trying to evaluate them for content and style.
These are the main hardships in trying to grade my students’ work:
1. Many of the students (50%?) deem your topic not stimulating enough, so they invent a topic of their own choosing and write about that instead. Despite the fact that you wrote, what you stupidly hoped, were very clear step by step instructions. And no, they don’t answer their own questions either.
2. They regurgitate the info you told them in class (usually getting it wrong) and then add no commentary of their own.
3. Many of them only fill half or 1/4 of the page requirement, then use experimental poetry type spacing in an attempt to fill the space. This kills me because my brain is all, ‘what? you think I can’t tell you have only written 5 sentences here instead of 2 pages? you think you’re smarter than me? Why did you even bother to turn this in?’ This is, of course, brain space that could be better used trying to finish my fucking thesis.
4. Each sentence is the verbal equivalent of a jackson pollock. (I should also disclose that I don’t ‘get’ him.) There might not be a subject, verb, complete thought, etc. Some of the words are not recognizable as English or any other romance language. FML. SMH. LOLcats.
7. What’s left is filler. Ya know, the shit inside hotdogs: “Shakespeare was a very good writer. Yes he used old school language which is hard to understand but his poems are very good and people should read them. I had to read them in class and thought they were good. Shakespeare is considered to be an excellent writer.”
So how does one affix grades to these papers without driving themselves insane and (less importantly) not inciting a mutiny where people come after me with pitchforks, flaming torches, and signs saying ‘god hates offensive words for gay people?”
I don’t hold these students to Haahvard/Oxbridge standards by any means. But I also don’t believe on grading on a curve–why should you get a higher grade because everyone else in the class has no standards or pride in their work? I also won’t lower my standards so much that I reward people with a passing grade just because they printed out a sheet with their name on it. I’ve slogged my way through about 35 papers so far, and there are 2 that are pretty good, good enough for me to give A grades to without losing any sleep at night. But the rest breaks down as follows: 2% B, 2% C, and the remainder is a primordial sludge of Ds and Fs. But where do I draw the line? After 5ish years doing this, I feel like I should have a better idea of what constitutes an F paper.
I guess the real problem is that most of them look like Fs, and I know I can’t fail em all.