I recently noticed that a friend of mine was furiously writing on a large document. I glanced down and realized that he was rewriting an academic paper that belonged to his son–a college student. As a professional in higher education it got me wondering–how would the student learn to write, edit and communicate well if his critical-thought papers are being rewritten by another person?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for a second pair of eyes. In fact, it’s a great practice to have a trusted person provide feedback on your work in almost every workplace scenario. Professors often do peer-reviews. It’s always a good idea to have someone “check your six.” However, if the person helping you is in reality acting as your full-time editor and rewriting your work–it’s probably unethical. The other issue is that you’re not being self-disciplined enough to hone what will later become one of the most important and universal skills you can have in any career–quality writing. Whether you’re an intelligence analyst, entrepreneur, emergency services professional, physician, professor or service member–strong communication skills provide you with a tremendous advantage in any endeavor. This is especially true if your goal is to become a leader who can clearly articulate ideas and have them respected. Remember, a great argument is only as good as it can be communicated and understood by the people you’re trying to inspire.
Here’s a suggested rule of thumb. Having someone double check your grammar from time-to-time is reasonable. In the information technology world, it would be similar to doing code reviews to ensure that what you’re programming is robust. In the academic world, you should not be engaging in activities where someone else rewrites your work even if it’s a few sentences. Why? Besides being plagiaristic, when your professor reads your work and provides thoughtful feedback–that’s you’re opportunity to learn and grow. How can you be learning and building your communication skills or even know how well you understand or articulate complex subjects if what you’re being graded on is a reflection of what has been articulated for you? College is about self-reliance, discipline and growth. So if you’re finding that you’re too dependent on others to feel confident about your own work–it’s time to quit letting them tie your shoes. You’re better off tripping up a few times and learning how to become a great communicator.
By Online Learning Tips Staff