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simone54's avatar

Top of the Class College Students: Do you feel you have BS a little to achieve?

Asked by simone54 (7560 points ) September 10th, 2012

I’m not a great college student. I get Bs and some Cs. Most of the classes I had so far were science and they didn’t require a lot of essay questions. I am not very experienced with that type of thing. So now, I have this Religious Studies class. One thing we have to do is visit at religious site (which I think is pretty cool). Before we can go we need answer some essays. Questions like, “Why did you choose this particular site?” and “Pick one article from your text and explain how it will help when you get there?”. I find that I don’t have a real answer for questions like this and I usually answer with what I think the professor wants hear which ends being a little on the BS side.

Is this normal? Do you college students who gets As do this?

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9 Answers

tom_g's avatar

“Why did you choose this particular site?” seems like a legitimate question. You do have an answer to this, although you might be uncomfortable with it. Maybe you could dig a little deeper and discover why you have chosen the site. Was it out of convenience? Was it because you are more comfortable with it? If so, why? What expectations do you have, etc?

bookish1's avatar

I was an A student and I only BS’ed papers for (required) classes I didn’t respect, like for Wellness class. But the expectations for such classes were so low, that even an essay that I considered somewhat BS would impress the prof.

If you BS a paper for a class that you are interested in, you are doing yourself a disservice because you are denying yourself the learning experience that comes from reading, reflecting, and writing. Being in college is a privilege, and it is an opportunity to learn to think critically, to learn how to learn, and to present and defend your own original ideas.

I am a Teaching Assistant, by the way, and I can absolutely tell when a student has reflected on and possibly struggled with the material but has come up with original ideas, versus when a student hasn’t engaged with the material at all and merely presents a BS response that they think is the “expected” response for that subject, or one that will please the teacher. I’m very sympathetic to students who haven’t had to do serious writing assignments before, and I will go out of my way to help them think about the prompt, brainstorm some ideas, and come up with a thesis statement.

If you are having trouble coming up with authentic answers to these assignments, I highly recommend that you visit the professor and/or TA during his/her office hours. If they’re worth their salt (and unfortunately not all professors are, as I’m sure you know), they want you to learn and grow from their class.

Mariah's avatar

No bullshit here, but then my classes are all math and programming. You really can’t bullshit in such classes, and I’d say my determination to comprehend topics inside and out is the key to ky success.

I admit that if I had to write an essay for a class I wasn’t passionate about, it would probably contain some bullshit. But then classes where you have to write papers are not my strength at all.

wundayatta's avatar

I’d love to know what different people think BS means.

I always thought that somehow you were fooling the professor—making them think you knew something you didn’t, or giving them some kind of analysis that seemed bogus to you but the professor bought. It’s the equivalent of guessing on a science test. Except that it’s with words, so it’s less precise, and maybe you can get the professor to read into your words what they are looking for.

Of course, all professors have dished the BS in their lives, too. Everyone has. So it’s kind of foolish to think that anyone would not be able to tell what it is. But if that’s the case, why does it work?

I finally came to the conclusion that BS is not really BS. We consider it BS because we aren’t sure what we’re talking about. But that’s ok. If we write to an issue (and I do that all the time here), we often come up with something worth sharing. We might think of it as BS, but it is a normal thinking process. Writing helps us think, and that is especially true when you don’t know what to think. So you may think you are BSing, but you are really thinking in a way that matters.

That does not guarantee that you’ll think anything worth thinking, but it’s a start. Professors and TAs can see when your BS is going somewhere and when it isn’t, and they mark accordingly. But if you think you are BSing and you get a decent grade, I’d like to invite you to think that maybe you actually did some decent thinking.

It’s always nice to know where you are going before hand, when writing an essay, but many times you don’t know. Just put pen to paper and write. At least half the time you’ll find yourself going somewhere worthwhile, I think. It’s serendipity. It’s providence. It’s BS. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. I have found that much of life is like that, anyway. Learning to BS is learning a different kind of thinking process—one that is much more useful and effective than you might think.

And that’s no load of BS!

Or is it?

wonderingwhy's avatar

Depends on the class and the professor. Some subjects are easier to write off with fluff than others and some professors need their ego stroked more than others and just want, regurgitated, what they’ve already told you. To the particular questions being asked of you, it sounds like they just want to get an idea of what you’re preconceptions/motivations are and at the same time are trying to show how your thoughts relate back to the class material. I’d be honest about the first one and hope that there’s at least something in the text that relates to my interests (otherwise I’d start to be concerned the class could be a real drag). If nothing else you can learn something about your prof from their response and with questions like that you can always argue a poor grade, after all the answers are extremely subjective.

Nullo's avatar

I got As, and would B.S. papers when I didn’t really understand what was required of me, or else in PR classes where B.S. was the paper. I would never B.S. the whole thing, but rather would take a part that I was comfortable with and emphasize it, or else provide multiple examples to support my thesis statement.

Crumpet's avatar

I’ve bullshitted my way through life so far.
I’ve bullshitted in every job I’ve applied for, and I bullshitted my way through my degree and did alright.
Everyone bullshits, and it’s essential to a certain extent.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yeah, I always BS those questions. I hate when teachers try to play therapist.

iphigeneia's avatar

I think the purpose of these types of questions is, ironically, to make sure you don’t BS your way through the class. The teacher wants to see that you’re engaging with the material and reflecting on what you’ve learned.

I used to think everything I wrote was BS, mainly because it was cool to sound like you didn’t have to put in effort or care to get a good mark. True, I did a lot of assignments the day they were due/late, sitting in the library with a coffee, not bothering to proofread, handing them in minutes before the office closed. Then I had some subjects I honestly disliked, and I learned what it really means to bullshit. And it stinks, hahaha.

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