Frosh-cessities: Reading Period Essentials

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You did it! You’ve managed to summon enough will power to return to Brown after Thanksgiving! But, then you immediately got hit by a truck, but not just any truck, the “Finals are next week, even though I just took a ‘midterm’ yesterday, and I have no idea what ‘hegemony’ or the ten(?) principles of economics really are” truck. Fear not, though, because Blog has your freshmen backs with several necessities to help you survive your reading period.

1. Towels

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A dry towel will soon be a rare occurrence.

Remember when you participated in the pack and go program at Bed, Bath & Beyond and realized that towels don’t just materialize in bathrooms (thanks parents for hiding this harsh truth from me for so long) and you had to actually buy some? Those towels come super handy during reading period for soaking up huge amounts of tears, especially ones that are caused by chemistry, neuroscience, or math. More importantly, however, is the fact that they are dual purpose. Roll one up under your door to prevent bothering people with your screaming or to deaden the noise of your soul shattering.

2. Chocolate or flowers

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Keep these treats around to win back your friends, roommates, and significant others at the end of reading period. Use them to apologize for your terrible behavior while studying, including but not limited to yelling at them out of stress, anger, hunger, or even hanger, throwing textbooks at them out of frustration, re-reading your essay out loud over and over until the wee hours of the morning, and papering every surface of your room with notes.

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Final Papers and You: A question of tone

Ben Hur Rowing

Pictured: An Adjunct

 

Academic writing is notorious for being dry as a desert. We’ve all felt our eyes glaze over during a particular sentence in an assigned reading. Our pen hangs in the air, paralyzed by indecision. What do we underline? Everything? Nothing? What’s the important information here? Resigned to our defeat, we move on to the next sentence, hoping we haven’t strolled right past something significant.

This is the path that will lead to rereading until you realize that you don’t know dick about what the paper was trying to communicate. Now, imagine for a moment that you are a professor (or, to be truthful, a professor’s lowly squire). You’ve been assigned a whole stack of student papers to grade. In a fate crueler than any Lucifer could design, you must sift through a mound of stilted undergrad academic prose. Visions of banned stimulants dance in your head, then vanish. You begin to think fondly of the good old prehistoric days, when language consisted mostly of pointing, grunting, and screeching. What a world it was, untarnished by the verb “facilitate.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Academic writing doesn’t need to have its mailing address in its own rectum to communicate its points in a clear and articulate fashion. If you’re arguing a point, it can be made in lively and interesting splendor. If you’re analyzing a text, you don’t have to drain the blood from the entire work. There’s room for levity and entertainment.

We must acknowledge, though, that not every paper will be a barrel of laughs. Perhaps your subject matter is very grim, and you don’t trust yourself with dark humor. Perhaps you’re writing a research paper, and there’s not much breathing room for creativity. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Still, depending on what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your writing, you just might be able to brighten someone’s day. That said, there are different standards for different assignments.

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A plagiarist speaks out

An anonymous writer calling himself Ed Dante has caused quite the internet controversy over an essay he wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education about his job writing essays for students who will pay hundreds of dollars to avoid them. Dante claims to make over $65,000 a year writing about everything from sociology and history to theology and ethics — with more than a dose of irony, we hope.

Naturally, we seized on the following paragraph:

I have become a master of the admissions essay. I have written these for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs, some at elite universities. I can explain exactly why you’re Brown material, why the Wharton M.B.A. program would benefit from your presence, how certain life experiences have prepared you for the rigors of your chosen course of study. I do not mean to be insensitive, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been paid to write about somebody helping a loved one battle cancer. I’ve written essays that could be adapted into Meryl Streep movies.

We here at BlogDailyHerald aren’t naïve enough to think Brown students don’t cheat, despite the fact that in last year’s Herald poll, only 0.4% of you admitted to turning in someone else’s work as your own. But we have to admit we’re hoping that whoever “wrote” that Meryl Streep essay didn’t get in.

Have you ever paid someone to write an essay for you? Do you know someone who has — at Brown, or elsewhere? (Remember, comments are anonymous!)


Looking for a leg up on those papers?

It’s crunch time. Everyone’s suffering with exams and papers. Many are probably wondering if there’s a no-effort way to boost their grade a bit. And for those working on papers, there may be.

An incredibly unscientific study was conducted by a sixth semester college student who had used three fonts on the 52 papers he had completed for school so far. After going back through his old work, he found that his papers in Times New Roman got an average of A-, those in Trebuchet MS got an average of B-, and those in Georgia got an average of A.

His conclusion? Maybe Georgia gets you higher grades.

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