If you call that paper short, What do you call “Ulysses?”

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This campus is just chock-full of different kinds of teachers who run the gamut of personalities and cover every extreme in behavior and demeanor.

Some teachers are completely against texting, some simply ask you to be considerate and don’t get too loud with it.

Some say no laptops allowed while others simply expect you not to Facebook and to actually take notes with it.

Some have rather stringent rules on absences and tardiness and some don’t even take attendance. Some are friendly, some are grouchy; some are easy to reach, some are impossible to reach; some are native, some are foreign.

Some believe that they shouldn’t have to do anything beyond writing some scribble on the blackboard and talking about it for an hour while others, and these are my favorites, genuinely care about making you understand the concepts they try to teach you (it is the subject they care so much about that they decided to get a Ph.D. in it, after all), so they will take all the time they need to find a way to make you understand the material.

These teachers may be my favorite, but there is something they share with all the other teachers, and indeed, there is a single unifying factor that equalizes all teachers in my eyes. Let me give you an example…

When I first came to SMU about a year and a half ago, I got started immediately in Rhetoric II because I already had the credit for Rhetoric I.

I had to write three different papers, all of which were described in the syllabus as “short.” The first two were 3-4 pages; the third was 4-5 pages. That was alright, but then I took a class the following spring that had a term paper, once again categorized as “short,” that was 4-6 pages.

Last semester, I had to write a “short” term paper that was 8-10 pages, and this semester, I will be writing a “short” research paper that is also 8-10 pages. Are you seeing the pattern here?

It seems that no matter what kind of class it is, and no matter what kind of teacher you have, if a term paper is assigned–it could be five pages or twelve pages or whatever number of pages–it will be defined by the teacher as short, guaranteed.

The reason for this is that the teachers who assign these papers have all been to grad school, where they constantly had to write term papers that were 20 pages or more (and that’s a lot), not to mention that to get their doctorate, they had to write a thesis, which all by itself is longer than all the papers you’ll ever write in your undergraduate career put together.

They are, therefore, completely unsympathetic as to the lengths of the papers they assign, as any of the papers we have to write seem short to them.

All the same, however, I feel like we need some kind of organizational system to categorize paper lengths more efficiently, if only for the benefit of us undergrads. Because you know what? I don’t think 10 pages is short, I really don’t. I’d say it’s more like a medium paper or something.

Trey Treviño is a sophomore CTV major. He can be reached for comment at ttrevino@smu.edu

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