Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I've been feeling pretty discouraged today.

Last night, I sent my professor my paper, because I wanted some feedback and because I needed to be sure I was on the right track.  I think I said so before, but I'm feeling very in the dark with this assignment, so I'm seeking as much guidance as I can get.  I got it back last night, she was really fast about the critique, and her remarks made me feel like a terrible underachiever.  Her email was upbeat, she encouraged me to keep up the work and reminded me about the standards by which this paper should be written, but there's a lot wrong with the paper so far and I'm only half done.  I'm glad I didn't finish the whole paper, just to find out that it needs this much work and re-writing.

Even with her feedback, I'm still feeling really lost.  Part of the problem is that I don't know how to make the leap from undergraduate writer to graduate writer.  The standards are much higher when you're a graduate student, my paper shouldn't sound like it was written by an undergrad, it should sound like a scholarly article fit for academic publication.  I'm still an undergrad but I'm also a grad student.  I know that I should know how to write the way she's suggesting I should know how to write, but I don't.  I write the way I write, I've always been conscious about what I'm saying, and though the way I write has always been acceptable, suddenly it's not anymore and I'm at a loss to understand how to bridge the gap.

One day, they're handing you a bachelor's degree, the next they're expecting you to write like a scholar, rather than a student.  There's zero guidance.  They don't tell you how to ramp up the writing skill, they just expect you to magically know.  I don't mind learning to be a better, more conscious, academic writer but it's not something I can learn all on my own.  This is the equivalent of going straight from 7th grade to college.  It's really very frustrating and it's left me feeling very hollow about my ability to succeed as a graduate student.

So, I'm going to revise what I have so far based on my prof's suggestions, but I also set out this afternoon to find guidance about academic writing on the graduate level, because I'm so lost.  By way of help, I found this Graduate Level Academic Writing Guide from The University of Western Ontario.  It's a PDF presentation that offers quick tips about being a better writer on the graduate level.  I found it really helpful and am going to sit down and try to fiddle with my paper using some of their suggestions.  Hopefully between my professor and The University of Western Ontario, I'll be able to whip this paper into shape and get a good grade.  I can't do poorly in this class, I simply can't.  As it is, I'm entering graduate school with one grade on my record, I really want it to be a good one.

If you have any, and I do mean any,  suggestions about how I might improve upon my writing style and subsequently my grade, I want to hear them!  If all else fails, I'm going to go talk to one of my professors and see if she can offer me some tips to make the transition by.  For now, I'm off to hunt down more help, because let's face it, I need all the help I can get.