Upper Division Writing Exam is an insult
Jesse Bob Harper
It’s the spring semester of 2010 and I am excited. It’s not the dawn of a new year which excites me, nor that it’s a fresh decade, or even the fact I will soon be moving. I’m excited because I have completed a total of 43 upper division credit hours at CSUN. At the age of 40 I have finally completed enough units for a B.S. in Political Science.
While a student at CSUN I was named to the dean’s list twice, maintained a GPA of 3.7 and managed to get ‘A’s’ in two of Professor Kappas’ classes. (If you have never had Kappas, getting an ‘A’ in even one of his classes means more than being on the dean’s list). Sorry dean.
Like a few graduates it’s taken me a longer than expected to get here, but like all graduates it has taken some sacrifices, some sleep and some very hard work. So, I am excited. I am proud and I am relieved, but most importantly I am a college graduate.
Well, at least I have the requisite credits needed to graduate. My account is ‘paid up’ and I have no financial obligation to the University. My academic performance is well above what is required to be ‘degree worthy.’ What more is there?
You see, even after taking 43 upper division credits at Northridge, and after more than a dozen papers and numerous tests before CSUN will bestow upon me the moniker of graduate, the University wants to know if I can write an essay.
As the CSUN website states: “The Trustees of the California State University have directed that “all students entering the CSU System… be required to demonstrate their proficiency with regard to writing skills as a requirement for graduation…”
Seriously? I was under the impression that’s what the classes, tests and papers were for.
The website further states: “…the CSUN faculty decided that on this campus students would meet the requirement by writing an acceptable test essay.”
I don’t know if I should be insulted, flattered or worried. Insulted that the very University that named me to the “Dean’s List” has the gall to tell me they do not think I can form a sentence. Flattered that the Cal State Trustees actually believe I have the skills and fortitude required to cheat on every exam and paper I have written. (Wouldn’t it be easier to just study and write your own papers? Which is what I did). Worried because the degree that I will have is from an institution that believes its very own system is so flawed and shabby that I would be able to complete a degree with a 3.7 GPA and still not be able to write a coherent or grammatically correct sentence.
It is not only the students that should be insulted, but the faculty as well. Do the Trustees have such low regard for the caliber of their faculty that they feel it necessary to test the writing skills of their students? Wouldn’t any junior or senior who is unable to write a simple essay have been ‘weeded out’ by now? Maybe the teaching abilities of the professors should be tested.
Besides the embarrassment of attending a University that feels compelled to assure them that their upper division students can demonstrate a, “…proper use of English grammar, diction, and mechanics,” we are required to pay a $20.00 fee.
According to Northridge’s own numbers, the undergraduate student body in the fall of 2008 is numbered over 30,000. If even only half of these students take the test that’s over $300,000.00.
Now they may say the money is needed to pay those grading the essays who are, “…a panel of faculty readers…” and I agree, they should be paid. But I would have rather paid $20.00 more a year, or even a semester, to see more classes offered in my chosen