What is my UNC degree really worth?

A degree from UNC-Chapel Hill is prestigious. The school one of the best public universities in the nation. When you graduate from this institution, you feel like you have really accomplished something and worked hard for a valuable degree. 
I was sure that this was all true until I was shown the worst paper I've ever seen in my entire life. 
Chris, on his first day back from Chapel Hill happened to be in Davis Library when he saw a paper sitting beside one of the computers. He brought it back to Eve's apartment with him and we took a look at it. I honestly couldn't believe what I was reading. I just knew it had to be a joke. 
No joke. Janet Cooke overcame all odds and managed to write the worst paper I've ever seen for her Poli150 class. I'm not really sure where to start. First, the font seems well above the standard 12 pt. The spacing looks more like triple rather than double. The margins are questionable. But let's put that all aside right now and focus on the content. 
As far as I can tell, the paper is comparing two articles, one by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the other by  Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations. I say "as far as I can tell" because the introduction might as well have been written by a 10-year-old just learning English. Here's a taste:
Author and politician Condoleezza Rice "The Promise of Democratic Peace" and author Susan Rice "Beyond Democratic Peace" both believe that the platform outlined by democracy is the fundamental aspect to rebuild the US's crumbling economy. Condoleezza Rice thinks the best way to secure democratic nations and to support the democratic institutions within the nations, while Susan Rice critiques Condoleezza of her methods to ensure democratic peace. Although their arguments equally parallel and contrast, could it be possible that there is another way to go about democratic peace.
There is nothing of substance in that entire paragraph. And it just gets worse. Not only does she fail to make any concrete point throughout the entire essay, she has a complete disregard for basic grammatical rules: "On the other hand, a financially and stable economy is willing and able to help falling states does." "This could possibly be considered Susan Rice's strongest point, however, at the same time could room for questioning her judgment." "Condoleezza Rice and Susan RIce emphasized the importance of the democratic foundation, nevertheless, they both contrast each other as to concluding should immediately be done."
I can't make this up. The whole paper is like that. Now it would be one thing if this paper had been given the failing grade it deserved. But no. Despite notes like "What?" and "Did you read the articles?" this joke of a professor professor or -- more likely -- TA gave this paper a 70. Are you serious? Not only is that a passing grade, that's a C-. How can you read this paper and believe that it is worth anything more than a 10? 
Janet Cooke is a sophomore which means that she has passed four semesters of college at UNC with, I assume, that type of work. Unless something changes (or people start giving her the grades she deserves) she is going to graduate with the same Carolina degree that I should be getting soon. That sure seems to take away some of the value, doesn't it? I can't help but be a little upset. 
At first I wasn't sure whether I wanted to post the paper and its author's name on this Web site. But if Janet Cooke is willing to put her name on this garbage, turn it into a professor and then to leave it in a public place, she should face the consequences. In a perfect world, she would see this post or her friends would all make fun of her for it and she would make a change for the better. Either that or drop out of school. 
Either way, you can download and read the entire paper here [pdf]. Please, especially if you graduated from or are attending Carolina, please try not to cry.


Salvation Holdout said...

That was insane. And you're right, the most insulting aspect of that entire paper is the C she received.

It reminds me of when I was a freshman at Penn State. I was in a Psych 101 class that seemed absolutely impossible to fail. Even getting a B would be somewhat shocking in the sense that there was so much extra credit and the tests were hilariously easy.

I was riding with a 110% average in the class and I had long since ceased to attend. One day I did attend. It was probably around the last day of classes, and the teacher asked the class a series of questions (mostly about who wants to major in what). One of the questions was "Who wants to be a clinical psychologist?" and a third of the room had their hands raised.

Now, plenty of people change their minds, some drop out, whatever, but a third of 400 people wanted to treat other people. The grade break down for the class was 6%As, 20%Bs, and the rest were lower, with 14% of the kids failing.


The way I look at college is as a really drawn out portion of a quest. To get a job and to excel, you need to have certain things, and one of them is a college diploma. So it's four years and 60-200k, with a lot of stress and good times thrown in between. The key is that most people can't acquire the other necessary "parts", such as this Cooke catastrophe.

It really does make you wonder about those kids who fail out of school though, doesn't it.

Anna said...

Now that's a new standard for my papers, lemme tell ya.

Apparently you get passing grades here just for turning something in now. Ugh.