The “Deeper Significance” Bullshit in College Writing Courses


My friend Cassandra just asked me to look over her essay, which her teacher apparently believes lacks some kind of “deeper meaning.” College writing classes. Fucking hell. Professors just love to mess with us using phrases that sound eloquent and constructive but actually don’t mean anything.

It’s looking great so far, but I think you can dig even deeper. 

I’m loving the flow of your arguments, but I think they can be even clearer.

The idea is fantastic, but I think you can squeeze a bit more juice out of the texts. 

HUH?? They always start off with something positive to get you excited and motivated…then they all turn into fucking Yoda and throw you the most confusing pseudo-philosophical bull-crap. What does clearer or deeper even mean?? Are my arguments a freaking window that I can simply wipe harder to see through more clearly? Writing is a physical process, thinking is a mental one. It’s difficult to synchronize the two without concrete, understandable direction. I appreciate that professors try to avoid using any specific guidelines to influence our thoughts and our writing styles. After all, college is supposed to be a step up from high school. Essays get longer and more complicated. Expectations increase and rules decrease. I know that colleges want to train us into original thinkers instead of followers, but we need clear guidance to improve. Telling us to “dig deeper” at the text’s “deeper significance” won’t help us become better readers or writers.

Maybe the main reason for all this ambiguity is because professors don’t want to hurt or discourage us. I mean, “they can be clearer” sure as hell sounds better than “your grammar sucks shit” or “I don’t understand what the fuck you’re trying to say.” I certainly don’t miss being graded down for not having enough time to complete my stupid conclusion or for inserting one less quote than required, but a bit of clarity about what’s expected can definitely be helpful. How about tell us to “dig deeper” at a particular idea? Or that certain words/phrases in paragraph X can be made “clearer” to further develop the argument? A bit of direction won’t stop us from generating original ideas. We just don’t want to be grasping at straws all the time.


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