Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Best Colleges Are Looking for Authenticity

And sometimes find it in typos. Here’s what they’re against: perfectionism.

Discussions - 2 Comments

My comments are usually rife with typos therefore I am both authentic and reflective.

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God... I suppose MIT wants to hear about the time when the donut shop was giving away free donuts and I had a load of pig shit that needed dumped and so I put it in a lake...and then I moved to Alaska...

In all seriousness college admission folk probably grew up in a Ned Flanders type atmosphere...So they crave the Homer Simpson...Sop already! Of course trully authentic people (a la Bart)might crave the consistency of perfection(Ned Flanders)...of course there is something in all of us that craves the Homeric (Simpson that is). The Ned Flanders of today may be a little more suave...a little more metrosexual...less religious...but it is still repackaging Mill's ideal in the form of Atticus Finch or Ned Flanders or the isothymic and "social capital rich" college applicant...in any case from the Marxist window we see nothing but topiaries trimmed to the prejudices of college recruiters as a stepping stone to the corporate cookie sheet...

So college applicant critics are looking for gingerbread men that are missing an eye or a button... kinda off...they are still looking for Lisa's...but they want a little Homer...a little Bart...and maybe just a little Huck Finn...but I digress and I am going too far. They don't really want students that will let education get in the way of school..(Mark Twain "Don't let school get in the way of an education.") They want students for whom school is more important than an education...and to prove wherein lies this loyalty spelling mistakes are encouraged...so they tell the gingerbread men...it is not enough that you pay an arm and a leg...you must also give up a button and an eye.

The pretense being that if the elite schools pretend to search for authenticity in students..they distinguish themselves from community colleges that openly admit to being means of advancing along a pay chart...but if a Harvard Business or Law Degree didn't advance its occupants along a pay chart...no one would be willing to give up a button or an eye much less pay an arm or a leg.

I know the article does not say this, but are colleges also looking for application essays that were not purchased over the Internet? I wonder how much recycled material is out there. Does a typo prove it is yours?


My community college wants their students to take school seriously, which apparently is why I am supposed to take attendance and make that part of the grade. If I educate the student along the way, that is very good, too. We have some new guidelines for this year, as requested by the business community. This year we are to promote creative thinking and problem-solving. At the departmental meeting it was suggested that we work this into our syllabus somehow.

However my community college students are excessively authentic in this matter of typos, or outright misspellings and make delightful (authentic?) howlers in the area of usage.

Finally, a person should be aware of their grammar, because poor grammar would make a person sound ignorant and would trouble for anyone else trying to read the paper.


Do I address issues of grammar in class? You bet I do and press my students toward perfection. We do not even come close in thirty class sessions. But as John reflectively says, we know we are in the business of making students who will be useful to business. Imperfection there is authentically unprofitable. However, I am happy that the current request from the business community apparently also calls for creative thinkers and problem solvers. My background (home schooling) means my syllabus is full of creative thinking and problem solving, because I have not had a clue as to what I was "supposed" to do pedagogically. I only did what seemed logical to me in following the last set of English Department guidelines and am somehow momentarily (but happily and very busily) in vogue.

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