Acceptance · 16 April 1982
As silly as it seems, I decided to include two of my first essays on my website. They were written in April of my senior in high school as part of my Prep for College class. For almost twenty years, I thought that my teacher, Ms. Reed, had given me an A on an essay called Acceptance even though it had been late and was not supposed to be given any points. I searched for that essay for years and when I finally found it, I realized that she had done what she said she would. She had not accepted the paper. While she did not accept the essay, Ms. Reed still liked it. She said so at the bottom of the original paper. I guess that is why I can still blame her for my love of the essay.
I must admit that I did make two changes to Acceptance before posting it almost 30 years after it was written. Toward the end of the essay, I made “paper” singular instead of the original mistake of being plural. And I made the last paragraph its own paragraph instead of keeping it with the one before. It was originally written April 16, 1982.
High school teachers are too lenient. They let their students talk them out of making assignments due and let their students make up excuses for handing in papers late. If teachers really wanted to prepare students for college, they would not accept most late papers. This assignment should not be accepted because the due date was known, the reason for being late was merely an excuse, and the acceptance would be grounds for accepting other late papers.
Like all assignments in Preparation for College, everybody knew well in advance when this paper was due. The assignment sheet with all the due dates was given to each student on the first or second day of the semester. No extension of the due date was made. The teacher said several times during the week that the paper was due Friday, repeating it at least twice on Thursday, the day the class was allowed to write during the period. The knowledge of the due date should be enough grounds by itself to not accept this paper.
There are many adequate reasons for accepting late papers, but the reason given for this paper was merely an excuse. A fire at home or a death in the family are real reasons, not excuses; therefore, they are acceptable. A scholarship due on the same date as the paper was due is only an excuse, a feeble one at best. It is like saying that there was not time to do it because of other homework. Nobody cares how late the student has to stay up, or at least, how late he said he had to. The applications could have been done earlier in the week or during the vacation, or for that matter, the paper could have been done at one of these times. It was not a reason for being late; it was only an excuse; therefore, the paper is unacceptable.
Even if this paper is acceptable with respect to the other reasons, it should not be accepted because the acceptance could be used as grounds to accept other late papers. Most students know when late papers are accepted. They make themselves aware so that when they have late papers, they can say, “You accepted John’s paper.” Not accepting late papers from anybody without an acceptable reason is a protection for teachers who want to be fair.
To be fair to everybody involved, this paper should not be accepted. The due date was known; the reason for being late was merely an excuse; the acceptance would be grounds for accepting other late papers. These are all good reasons to not accept this paper by themselves, but together they are overwhelming. The paper is not five-hundred words either.
© 1982 Michael T. Miyoshi
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