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Would I win this argument?

  1. Sep 10, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone.

    I had to write a 6-7 Page report on my co-op experience and how well did my school (Penn State) prepare me. I had to send in 2 copies to the school while I'm at my co-op.

    I basically am paying 650 dollars to write this report and get either a PASS/FAIL grade because I had to take a 1 credit co-op course every rotation. So 650 in the summer and 650 in the fall.

    Well silly me I assumed the cover page counted as a page, which it didn't as you can see from the second bullet, the abstract is your first page.

    The report requirements in length are the following:
    Format and Length

    • The report must be typed (double spaced) and be 6-7 pages long using your best grammar.

    • You must include an abstract as the first page of your report. An abstract is not an introduction, it is a brief (50-70 words) summary of your report.


    There is no directions saying, what font you can use, I assumed 12. By it never said what font face to use. If for instance you use times new roman the text will be a lot more condensed of course.

    I didn't use a massive font, but I could have. So if you take out the cover page my report is 5.5 pages long.

    But if I change my font to Century Gothic which isn't absurd font, my report would be 6 pages long.

    So I sent the professor an e-mail with my report with the different font and waiting for a response to see what he says.

    Either he can say okay thats fine or he can say, no, the report we got had a different font, so you fail.

    But my argument is, I didn't change any of the content of my paper, its still the same number of characters and yet it reached the requirement by changing the font.

    I have a feeling he didn't like what I wrote on the paper, I basically explained how well Penn State didn't prepare me for the co-op and how they are teaching out of date technologies. It was my opinion and they asked for it so I told them. Compared to other Comp Sci programs at other schools I feel they are getting a much better education.

    It didn't affect my performance at my co-op. I'm doing awesome and even working on getting a patent on a project I just recently did. But everything IBM wanted me to use Penn State taught nothing of it. So I quickly taught myself everything I needed to know.

    When manager heard Penn State taught no Java, and how little programming we actually did in computer science they were appalled and made the same comments I made in my report.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2007 #2
    Here is wisdom, grasshopper... suck up to people who have the power to make your life miserable.

    In my book, you'd win the argument, but fail the course.
  4. Sep 11, 2007 #3


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    I would say that Times New Roman 12 is appropriate. I use it in my reports, but the line spacing is 1.2.

    Six pages should apply to the body of text. One should be familiar with standards and conventions.

    One does not have to 'suck up', but one would wise to use discretion. Always provide constructive criticism rather than negative commentary. It does matter how one states a critical point.

    I have had similar observations over the past 25 years, and others in the industry have similar observations, but I always offer a remedy or positive solution about what should be taught.
  5. Sep 11, 2007 #4
    The questions you need to ask yourself are
    1. Are you willing to risk failing for using a non-standard font instead of writing an additional page of double-spaced text?
    2. Are you willing to risk failing for saying exactly what you think and none of what they (Penn State) will want to hear?

    A much more strategic way to go about your report would be to talk about how well your co-op is going and what you're learning from your co-op (within the limits of any contracts or NDAs that you've had to sign; for example, you can mention that you are working on patenting some of your co-op work, but you probably should not describe the details of the patent), and then say what changes to the curriculum would have prepared you even better for your co-op (i.e. Java should be incorporated in the curriculum because it's widely used in industry; more practical programming assignments would better prepare graduates and co-op students for the tasks they will be performing in industry jobs or on co-op; etc.). It shouldn't be too difficult for that to reach 6 pages of double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman text. The reality is that you seem to have been prepared well enough for your co-op to be doing really well (independent of whether Penn State prepared you well for it), you'll be less likely to be failed out of spite if you offer constructive criticism instead of ranting, and the department will be more likely to make curriculum changes based on a few well-explained criticisms than on a laundry list of complaints.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2007
  6. Sep 11, 2007 #5


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    You don't get any points for being a smart-alec.

    In fact, the marker will probably deduct you points both for using a too large font and also for pointing out the difference it makes in the length of your thesis :biggrin:

    I think you know you should have used the times font and written a bit more -- you probably also know that it's not going to gain you any marks by having a go at your institution :smile:
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2007
  7. Sep 11, 2007 #6


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    Wow! That sounds like 5 pages of beating around the bush, and 1 page of actually making your point.

    If I were you, I'd have put in 4 pages of pictures and graphs!! :biggrin:
  8. Sep 11, 2007 #7
    Thanks for the advice/responses.

    Well to me this paper is so useless thats why I put very little effort into it.

    I'm working my a$$ off at work making a difference and getting evaluated on my work. I got top marks from the lead programmer and my managers.

    And yet he is busting my balls for such a little detail. What is this co-op about? Writing a summary of how well this school prepared you for this job or how your actually performing on the job.

    I would think a co-op is about WHAT you do, and how well you do it.

    Not how you can make your school/professors feel good about themselves because frankly they shouldn't.

    If they did do a good job on teaching us technologies that big companies like IBM want out of graduating computer science students then I would have put that.

    I also suggested on how they could improve their comp sci program, I just didn't rip on them for how terrible it was but I'm sure the chairman of the comp sci department still got offended.

    I'm transferring anyways to NC STATE, so I won't have to deal with them to much longer.

    This is also only a 1 credit course, 2 total for both co-ops. We had the choice of making it more credits if we want to spend another 650 per credit.

    I guess the real reason I'm upset is, I should be evaluated on my performance at my co-op rather than some trivial 7 page report.

    But I do agree I screwed myself over by doing bare minimum on this report and doing it in about 30 mins.

    I figured they had to make this report a requirement or else they would have no justification of charging us 650 dollars for a course that had no course work in it. Little did I know they would be doing a pass fail based ONLY on the report, and not on how well you did at your job.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2007
  9. Sep 11, 2007 #8


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    Well then write the coop report based on one's performance including what one does and how well one performed.

    With respect to the department, it is appropriate to indicate shortcomings in the curricula - one should be honest - but say it in a way the will not necessarily alienate the reader. Think and write like a professional

    Universities do need honest feedback from industry if they are to improve their curricula.

    I expect that the report is their record of one's performance, but I can only go by what's written here in the thread.
  10. Sep 11, 2007 #9

    Throughout the co-op our managers filled out evaluation after evaluation on our performance as well. So they have to have that on record.

    After resubmitting the report with the slightly larger font Gothic, I got an e-mail saying:

    Our mistake! It looks like the coop office only copied one side. I’ll request a complete copy and regrade it. Sorry for the confusion.

    To me this makes no sense. They only copied one side of what? The report was 7 pages long, all on separate pages. Did they just send him 1 of my pages? hah oh well, hopefully it works itself out.
  11. Sep 11, 2007 #10


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    Welcome to bureaucracy! :biggrin:

    Sometimes forms/reports come printed on two sides, and sometimes someone uses autofeed on a copy machine and forgets to select copy two sides to two sides.

    I've received reports with the odd pages, with even pages missing. :rolleyes:

    Some people just press a button and move on.
  12. Sep 11, 2007 #11
    ah hah,

    I sent 2 copies so I didn't realize they would make another copy of a copy.

    Well that takes some stress off me!

    Thanks for listening :biggrin:
  13. Sep 14, 2007 #12

    he accepted my report with no hassle after they sent him the real deal!
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