Word. Wednesday. Say it Now: “Would You Take a Look?”

Posted by on Apr 11, 2012 in Communicating with Professors, General | 2 comments


I'll totally look at student work in advance. But I admit that now I need glasses!

What’s The Word?

It’s a question this time: “Would you take a look?”

(And, yes, I know I’m barely in under the wire for Pacific Standard Time, Wednesday, but I just literally turned in the final, final, final edits on my proof copy for my book. Can I get a hoo-ha?).

In honor of the above, as well as my almost-9-year-old having to “edit” a short story of hers this evening (this consisted of me circling words that were incorrect), I am thinking about how often we actually step out of ourselves and ask for someone else to look at our work?

Seriously… when was the last time you asked another person to look at your research paper, essay, e-mail… a passage, a paragraph, a sentence, a resume… anything?

It’s critical, isn’t it? To give our own eyes a little break and to let another person offer a fresh perspective and maybe, if we’re lucky, a spelling, grammar, or punctuation assist.

I know this may seem ridiculously simple. So simple that you’re tempted to shut my blog down and think, “Ah, that Chatty Prof, she’s flat this week… that Vlog sucked up all her fresh material.” But, really, I’m going to ask you to get selfish for a minute: Think of the benefit you could give yourself (Better grade? A stronger product?) and that puffed-up feeling you could give another person (“Oh, you think I’m so brilliant that I could review your work?”) if you just ask another person to take a quick look at what you’re doing once in a while. Also, for once, wouldn’t it be nice to get some feedback that doesn’t have a grade attached to it… at least not yet?

All the positives are there, aren’t they? So, figure out what document needs a review and who you’re going to choose!

So Say This…

In addition to the obvious people you could select–your profs, staff at a tutoring/writing center, a librarian (you could certainly ask them to read a short passage or two, I bet–and I’m talking about a librarian at your college library, and even at your local library), get even more creative about people you could consider: What about a family member? A good friend? A classmate? Someone sitting in the student union or library who looks like they might be studying something interesting?

I’m not saying you should have just anyone review a 20-page paper. You have to be selective about who you’re asking, what their obligations are, and when you’re asking them. But certainly, you could do this in a few different ways:

-”I’m working on this research paper and this paragraph is feeling like it doesn’t quite make sense. Would you be willing to read it and see how it strikes you?”

Just one paragraph? Most people would be willing to do that…

-”I have this e-mail that I need to write to my prof about a problem that I’m having. I think it might sound too whiny and personal. Do you think you could look it over for me?”

You could ask a friend or family member to do this. Even a staff member on campus would probably be glad to help.

-”I have this huge-ass project due in my class and the paper is so long. I don’t know how it sounds or if it even makes sense.”

Hold up the train. Here are a few warning signs with this one… and a few tips:

First, early, early, early, early is the key. Maybe you and a classmate can work in tandem, trading off and reading for each other. Doesn’t even have to be someone in that particular class, just someone with a big-ass paper like you have. Make sure you have someone who will be accountable with you.

Second, you absolutely want to use your prof on something like this. Schedule a time to talk to your prof and say, “What’s your window for early review of my paper? I would like to have you take a look.” Write down what the prof says and cement that date in your head. Be ready for it with your draft in hand!

Third, definitely use any tutoring center/library/writing center or academically minded family member or friend, if you have someone who will take a critical eye and who has the patience to review for you.

You’ll be so glad that you took these big steps to create a “review team” for the big project. I bet you’ll find that your grades are stronger, too!

Are you ready?

Say it forward!


  1. I am always my daughters’ muse when it comes to picking topics and discussion points within essays. I have really enjoyed this phase of their lives because they have definitely formed their own opinions. They are also very articulate and present their arguments very well.

    Hats off to a couple of their high school teachers for preparing them so well – and we definitely taught them to be both open-minded and convicted.

    I definitely like the longer window you describe. Trying to have a debate/discussion about a topic the night before generally leads me to fire off “your procrastination does not become my priority”.

    • Brian,
      Your daughters are very, very lucky to have such an engaged parent. Not every student has that! And, yes, working early is so key. I know when I was in graduate school, I learned that if I put together those 20+ page papers three weeks ahead, the profs would look at them and I’d get a better grade. Why didn’t I learn that earlier? :-) .

      Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful words :-) .

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