On Essays, Papers and Projects

As the  paragraph is being typed, it is a rare moment of coffee and music quiet before the storm. The end of the semester in December 2014 is filled with school deadlines of all kinds. Within now and five days most of those deadlines have to be dealt with in an appropriate manner, namely delivery and submission of the works.

Among the essays, papers and projects there is no real favourite for me. The deciding factor is often the specific assignment and the requirements. When teachers or professors come up with vague language and ambiguous descriptions I only have two options. The first option is to play the game and risk losing because in the last-minute the vague language and ambiguous descriptions become thoroughly specific.

The second option is to not play the game. Making that decision implicates that you have to check the assignment, the requirements, examples and you have to chase your teacher or professor for useful responses and feedback. It might happen that they find you annoying. You very well may be annoying but “fuck them for being vague and ambiguous”. Until you are fully informed they have to answer to you.

Before going to my current business school I was a student at university. I liked university but I never felt at ease there regarding their teaching methods and student expectations. One time, for a course we had to write a paper which was to be like an essay but not quite an essay. There were no basic requirements, just “write this paper about …” and I was confused and frustrated about this assignment. That event has largely influenced my perception of university education ever since. Sure I wrote a paper that passed but I was never quite sure about the assignment.

These days when a teacher of professor gives me an assignment for an essay I expect a list of detailed enough requirements to work with. In case that does not happen I consider that teacher or professor an incompetent waste of time worthy of a department complaint. As a student my points and progress are on the line. I do not have an office job with a fixed contract nor am I academic cannon fodder.

Papers can be just like essays, but even worse because the term “paper” can mean a 800 word essay or a serious thesis about a given topic. Just enter a query with the words “paper”, “academic”, “sample” and “requirements” and the varied results should tell you enough. The noun “paper” in academic context is for me synonymous with the word “swamp” in its literal dictionary meaning.

When the assignment is a project often the requirements are more specific. In the best case scenario the specific assignment is a variation on existing examples and available samples. The catch with “projects” is often the combination of requirements, obligatory meetings, milestone assessments and the delivery deadlines. When this tricky combination is clearly explained it is a simple matter of doing what has to be done in a timely and effective fashion.

Currently I have two portfolios, a workshop, a presentation and a business plan to take care of. Careful preparations and planning have taken care of the most of he assignments already. The difficult part is the business plan because I am responsible for the final edit some essential parts are missing. Business plans are generally straightforward to prepare but the aspects of editing them and preparing the financial statements is a minefield.

A business plan is basically a sales pitch blown up to an at least twenty page document. There are many styles and approaches to making a business plan. The business plan’s emphasis is on facts and figures regarding the company, the product or service, the production, the marketing plan, the organisation and the financial data. The total facts and figures, with emphasis on relevancy and what cannot be omitted, have to convince the potential investors to invest in the company.

To conclude I owe it to you to offer a solution. Coffee and music are my personal preferences after all. In my experience there is one very effective way to deal with all sorts of essays, papers and projects. It it rather simple really when you think about it and do it. You have to regularly read and look up things you read about. When you have found something that has interested you it is worthy enough to look for sources and examples. Once you have found good sources and examples, keep them close so you can always reread and re-use them.

Do you know what the best thing about my solution is? Everyday read for at least half an hour, write down what you find interesting and in the following half hour just look it up. People who say that they do not like reading have no excuse if you ask me. You can read whatever you like as it is your time and your life. To dismiss reading as “not liking it, not doing it” is equal to poking out your own eyes because you do not like what you see.

When you keep yourself informed there are fewer surprises. Regarding essays, papers and projects I prefer little to no surprises…