Educational Goals - Skills for College

Jesi's Story on History Repeating Itself

It's the beginning of Fall semester, and you are attending your first class in a world history course. The class seems very interesting and invigorating until you are besieged with panic upon learning that you have to write a RESEARCH PAPER, a ten-page, typed-written research paper which is due at the end of the semester. To make matters worse, your paper must have at least three references. You relieve yourself with the small consolations that you can choose the paper topic, and the paper is not due for another sixteen weeks. A spurt of confidence emerges as you quiet your anxiety and calmly proclaim that this will be the best paper ever written in the history of the university.

For the first half of the semester, you avoid working on your paper because you reason that you must first learn something about the subject of world history before you can choose a paper topic, and you won't learn anything for the first eight or nine weeks of the term. Naturally, it doesn't occur to you that you could be surveying the chapters of your textbook for paper ideas at this time. Besides, you are busy with your other classes, your job and a number of "extracurricular" activities.

Then, one day in class, your history professor reminds you and your classmates that the paper is due in a mere four weeks. You gasp in despair and disbelief that you were sure you had more time. However, a quick perusal through your calendar confirms the horrifying realization that not only is your history paper due in a few weeks, but several other papers and projects are due at the same time, not to mention that final exams are also right around the corner. Even more startling is the fact that the holiday season is also approaching, and you have committed yourself to lots of social gatherings, and haven't even thought about Christmas shopping yet.

Unfortunately, you are struck by a nasty case of the flu over the following weekend which renders you far too queasy to even read your textbook. As you reach for another kleenex, you receive a flash of insight that the next weekend is Thanksgiving weekend, and you will have four full days to work on your paper. You then soothe yourself with a cup of theraflu, and the resolution that you will write your paper over the next weekend.

On the day before Thanksgiving, your mother calls you and requests that you pick up your Uncle Eggbert from the airport that evening. You happily agree to do so as you figure that this will only take a couple hours of your time. Of course Uncle Eggbert's plane is delayed for three hours, and the waiting time in the airport is not put to good use because you forgot to bring your study materials. On Thanksgiving day, you inform your mother that you will be unable to assist with turkey preparations because you must work on your paper. You proclaim that you will work diligently all day, take a one-hour break to eat turkey, and resume your mission after dessert. After you read the same paragraph in your textbook for the fourth or fifth time, you realize that the smell of turkey, and the lively family discussion in the living room is just too distracting. Reluctantly, you allow yourself to join in the festivities, eat heartily and plop down on the couch to watch TV with the others. Tomorrow will be the most productive day in the history of the university.

You wake up very early on the day after Thanksgiving, and you head straight to the local library. After a few of hours of productive reading, you pat yourself on the back with confidence that you will write the paper by the end of the weekend. At that moment, a close friend, whom you haven't seen recently, approaches you, and the two of you engage in a lively conversation that leads to a long, late lunch. Too tired to work on your paper, you head home and settle into a comfortable chair, at which point you reason that despite the next day's plans to go to a football game, you still have several hours to work on your paper...which of course you don't do. On Sunday morning, you race to the local library again, only to realize that it is closed. Nuts! You hadn't counted on that. Well, at this point, you decide to relax, and read through your textbook a bit. Then you rationalize that you are entitled to enjoy yourself on holiday weekends, and next weekend will be the most productive week in the history of the university.

During the next two weekends, your resolve to write your paper is dampened considerably after a bitter fight with your romantic partner, and a small family crisis. Naturally, all of your unfeeling instructors have chosen this time to saddle you with extra work as if their class were the only concern in your life. To top it off, you haven't bought a single Christmas present yet.

On the day before your paper is due, you ceremoniously open your textbook with the idea that the first topic you encounter will be the topic of your paper. The 'fall of the Roman Empire' is designated as your paper topic. Armed with a topic, you head to the library to find your three references. You decide to use your textbook as one reference, an encyclopedia entry as another reference and a second history textbook as your third. You feverishly type the encyclopedia entry verbatim (in quotes of course) and then restate the entire passage in your own words. In a similar fashion you utilize your other references, but much to your dismay, you realize that you have only written seven pages. At this point, you widen your margins, enlarge your font size, and restate the encyclopedia entry a third time until you have reached the middle of the tenth page. Close enough, you proclaim. As you wearily rest your head on your pillow late that night, you resolve that next semester, you will write the best paper ever written in the history of the university.


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