Senior paper: the struggle is not real

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Freshman and sophomore year no projects or papers were necessary to pass English– all you needed was a D or higher. Junior year we had the Challenge Based Learning (CBL) project which made students pick a local issue to research and create awareness for the chosen issue.

Then, seniors must write the “dreadful” six to eight page paper about whatever topic is assigned by their teacher.

In years past I’ve heard all my senior friends and classmates exaggerate about how bad the paper is, saying, “This will be the death of me,” or “Why does it have to be so long?” or “UGH.”

Because of all the complaints, I came into senior year on edge and a little paranoid. If a student doesn’t turn in or flunks the senior paper it is mathematically improbable to receive a diploma in May. This places pressure on all the seniors.

However, after some explanation and given time to complete the paper, it seems easier than past seniors have made it sound. The process is the same as any other paper, with teachers and librarians telling us the same rules of successful writing.

Six to eight pages sounds like a daunting task. However, given that we have to write one page essays all the time in one class period and we have five weeks to complete the paper; that’s a page per week.

The only hard part of the process, as always, is finding sources. After about seven sources, finding new information is like trying to make a Capri Sun last for more than an hour. When I went to the library, the paraprofessional Mrs. Huntley was more than happy to find and check out books. It led me to believe not a lot of students check out books for research.

Students will always be given library time to find at least 10 sources on the school’s databases. And of course, being the procrastinators most of us are, we don’t use the time to our advantage.

The teachers are pretty helpful when it comes to writing this paper. They realize this is our first time ever writing a paper this long and in depth. From all my friends, I’ve heard the teachers have been helpful but repetitive.

We’ve been fed the same information and tips since freshman year. Get sources (NOT FROM WIKIPEDIA); write out citations, preferably on NoodleTools; fill it with the necessary information; fluff it up a little, and end with a three-five sentence conclusion.

Here’s the problem: Destiny Quest and EBSCO are hard to navigate. You have to type in over specific key words just to be met with results that have nothing to do with your topic. Type in Oprah, come up with Nelson Mandela because of their contributions to society. Type in journalism, come up with random news articles because they’re written by journalists.

It’s almost like EBSCO and Destiny Quest doesn’t want to give us the information. Honestly, 358 results and most of them are just about “related topics.” All I want is to find a source with quotes, statistics and additional information that can help me write the 6 page paper.

For this project, no community service or activism is needed, unlike the junior project. All you have to do is write it. There’s no going out of the house or school to complete this project.

Aside from finding sources, it’s not hard, honestly. This is what is preparing us for college and beyond. For all those complaining to your teachers about how you have a job and other obligations, get used to it. Growing up means taking on more responsibility, this is just the beginning of your life’s obligations.

Staff editorial