Re: Seeking advice on English MA

Subject: Re: Seeking advice on English MA
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- lts -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 11:31:05 -0700

Scott -

> With all due respect, I disagree. When I was in grad school, I worked in the Writing Lab and as an English instructor. In both cases, I had grad students from other disciplines in my lab/class. I can't tell you how many times I encountered people who had no concept of sentence boundaries, and that's for starters. It was extremely discouraging. I was hired by another department to work with MS students on their thesis efforts. One student had to undergo 32 revisions and was finally given approval by the committee only because they wanted him out of there. (He was ex-military, I believe....)
> I only write this because I think your anti-English bias is wrong and your assumption that students in other disciplines with advanced degrees can automatically communicate "sufficiently" is faulty.

You can disagree with me till pigs fly. However I'm in charge of hiring (and firing) the people who will help me make my company profitable, and hence I pay attention to what has worked in the past and what hasn't. And in my experience, my slight bias stands.

If you go back and look at my original statement, I pointed out that a holder of a Master's degree had to be able to create a thesis (normally, that is - there are some disciplines that don't require one) of sufficient clarity to get it past a thesis review committee. Obviously that committee includes some folks in charge of grammar and construction and other things that contribute to clarity. Hence the student probably went through the process of rewriting said thesis to get to the desired state of clarity. This is where your experience probably came in - you were in charge of helping these naifs
make their output understandable. And of course it was discouraging for you! That's why I tend to look for folks who *finished* the degree and thesis - they had to learn something about clear writing in the process of doing the thesis.

You're wrong in your assumption that I automatically prefer students with degrees in disciplines other than English *because* of the thesis problem. Where students (especially in something technical) haven't had to do a thesis, I have required a writing sample describing a process - even if it's as little as the infamous peanut butter sandwich example - to see how they handle the language.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems


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