This week I met with a professor about nothing. It was like a Seinfeld episode, entitled “office hours”. The great thing about Seinfeld is that even though it was the show about nothing, something always happened.
I feel the same way about meeting with my professors. Even if I don’t have a topic for a paper, I’ll go meet with them to discuss any random ideas that might be floating around in my head. If you try to meet with your profs before you start a paper, then give yourself a hand!
Amazingly, I always leave these meetings with great essay topics, new insights into reading I didn’t understand, and most importantly I always leave with a more comprehensive understanding of who these professors are and what they want.
I really don’t like reading books or journal articles that focus on topics that are of no interest to me. I can imagine that as my various profs sit at home with a mountain of essays to grade that they are praying to the academic demigod’s to make these papers interesting.
Meeting with your prof gives you some understanding of what they find interesting. A friend of mine told me that her prof had recommended an essay topic to her, but she thought it would seem weak minded if she wrote a paper on a topic he had recommended.
My response: “What is wrong with you? Are you a masochist?”
I have been in this situation on multiple occasions and the best marks I have ever received on papers have been the ones that were written on topics that came out of conversations with profs.
Think about it…If I told you that I would like cake and you brought me a pie, I would eat the eat a piece of pie, because you gave it to me, but the whole time I was eating it I would most likely be wondering why you brought me a pie, when I told you I liked cake.
I would probably assume one of three things:
1. You were not listening to me.
2. You do not care that I like cake; you like pie, so I in turn must also like pie.
3. You are just trying to aggravate me.
If this is the mindset that your prof has while marking your paper, there’s a good chance you’re not going to get the mark you were hoping for.
I’m currently writing an essay, the topic of which I find confusing, but my prof recommended that I write on the topic…so even though this essay is causing me great mental pain, at least I know that the reader will be engaged and actually care about the topic of the paper.
In the end, I have to remember that although I am here to learn, I am also here to graduate with a GPA that reflects the amount of effort I have put into this endeavour. If ceding an essay topic to the preference of an evaluator will get me to this point, then I’ll eat cake every day of the week!