As long as I have been here, I still am occasionally stopped in my tracks by my students' offhand remarks. Or writing.
Yesterday, I was given two college application essays to review for a student. Let me repeat: college application essays. You know, the ones that make you stand out as the perfect freshman that the school absolutely must accept. OK, just wanted to make that clear.
The topic of both essays was something along the lines of "Discuss some hardship you have overcome." Essay #1 was all about the "hardship" of sharing a room at boarding school with a girl that had multiple airplanes and homes around the world. The hardship? The roommate was messy. Really. Space devoted to said hardship and its resolution? One paragraph. Space devoted to telling about the girl's wealth? Three paragraphs. She actually said that their difference in socio-economic status was a cultural difference they had to deal with. You know, as opposed to the cultural difference of coming from different cultures. Which, BTW, she did not mention.
So, the first essay was basically crap. No problem, I thought, she has a second essay with basically the same topic. If necessary, she can revise the second one and use it for both schools. Then I read the second one. This one was about the hardship of staying with a black family for a fortnight in England. It was a hardship because of the stink of their weird food throughout the house. However, she found their hair very interesting to look at, even after she got used to the strange smells. Now, she proudly announced, she tells her friends that black people aren't scary and dirty. Really. I read the entire thing thinking it had to be a joke-- this girl lives in the US. But, no, no joke. So, I edited the grammar and vocab and put a nicely worded note suggesting she revise the overtly racist parts, without specifically stating that she would only be left with an introduction.