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What's wrong with reusing essays?

  1. Jul 2, 2012 #1
    Our school has a policy against reusing the same essay for multiple courses, but why? The point of college is (or should be) to learn new things. If you have the chance to reuse an essay because the assignment is similar enough, then conjuring up an entirely new essay is hardly going to teach you that much more. If your old paper would get a passing grade in this new class, then you've already demonstrated that you have the neccesary skills. Insisting that you do it again seems to me that quantity is considered more important than quality. If it's an issue of getting the same credit for less work than your classmates, I'd argue that the workload is inherently unfair, with more talented students having to do only a fraction of the work that some others do for the same grade.
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  3. Jul 2, 2012 #2

    Chi Meson

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    So, you wrote one passing paper. That's it? That's all you need to do? The point of college is to learn how to think. But even it the point is as you said:
    How do you think you're doing that by turning in the same paper? Sounds like you're rationalizing laziness.

    Or maybe not. Be the genius like Bill Gates, and Dean Kamen. You're too smart to waste your time in college. Clearly you have everything you need to score your fortune. Drop out now!
  4. Jul 2, 2012 #3
  5. Jul 2, 2012 #4


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    There's two answers to this question; If the course is badly put together and they are essentially asking the same question twice and there literally is nothing more to say on the topic that you haven't said in your other essay then there is room for complaint. Otherwise there is nothing wrong with trying to answer a different yet similar question in a different way, you still have to utilise skills of research, critique, argument and essay writing.
  6. Jul 2, 2012 #5
    I would consider it a worthy challenge to write an essay that would stand on its own for two different courses.
  7. Jul 2, 2012 #6
    But if you succeeded...?
  8. Jul 2, 2012 #7
    In my opinion, such a task would be harder, not easier, than writing two separate essays. And since the school forbids it, its a no brainer. Don't do it. But if you think you're up to the challenge, then write such an essay, just don't hand it in to both professors.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  9. Jul 3, 2012 #8


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    Really, you think you cannot improve your essay writing? As with anything you get better through practice.

    School is not only about learning new skills, it's also about improving your acquired skills.
  10. Jul 3, 2012 #9
    As a parent, if I'm working my butt off (and that would take some work) to pay tens of thousands of dollars to send my child to school, I wouldn't be too happy with my kid using the cut and paste method of doing class work. You owe your best effort in everything you do. Even if you are in school on a free ride, someone ended up paying for you to be there and you occupy the seat that someone else would have had. You have been given an opportunity; use it.
  11. Jul 3, 2012 #10
    I think this is indisputable.

    I found HS school and in particular grade school math very repetitive.

    Kazham, if nothing else consider it practice, but as chi pointed out it seems you have already rationalized this is as unfair and a waste of time.

    It is what you make of it, and you made it unfair and a waste of time.
  12. Jul 8, 2012 #11


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    I don't remember this ever coming up in college (or even high school). If your assignments are so vague and general that you can frequently reuse old essays, you might want to consider a new college.
  13. Jul 8, 2012 #12


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    I was rather amazed at the usage my sister-in-law got out of her essays.

    While she never reused an essay verbatim, she never wanted to do the research for a new essay and was quite good at reworking about three different essays to fit whatever course she happened to be taking at the time.

    This was the same sister-in-law that fedexed a box of rocks and her geology lab book to me a week before the end of her last semester crying that if I didn't do her labs for her, she wouldn't graduate. Which made me wonder - if a person that's actually attended geology classes asks a person that's never taken geology to do their labs, is it actually cheating? Or just really dumb?

    Given that the two classes she had that actually dealt with her major were incredibly work intensive, that her advisor suggested she pick something really easy for the last elective she needed, and that she instead chose something that looked really interesting, I guess the answer to that question might be pretty easy.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
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