Why students should use proofreaders – a personal view

OK, so here goes: here is my confession to the big, wide world. I missed out on my ‘First’ by a measly 3%. If only I could go back. If only I could know what I know now! It’s fine. I’m totally fine with it. I mean, of course I’m fine with an upper Second Class degree. Can you tell? I’m definitely not fine. I am definitely not fine with an upper Second Class degree; I desperately wanted that First!

I can’t even blame tequila for my lack of semi-colons and paragraph-long sentences filled with commas, and I certainly can’t blame my ‘let’s use the synonym tool on the computer to make my writing sound more sophisticated and, in turn, me more intelligent’ on pints of Strongbow and blackcurrant and shots of apple sours! I partied hard, but I worked harder.

I put my all into each and every assignment. I worked hard on the content and always ‘proofread’ each one as I had finished. I say ‘proofread’ lightheartedly. Looking back, all I did was scan through the pages while watching the Friends boxset to tick off ‘I have proofread my work’ on my long to-do list. This type of proofreading shall be known as ‘proofreading – student style’!!

My university had a link on its website to a ‘grade calculator’, which was designed to give an accurate prediction of your overall degree classification. I write this with a smile, mainly because I and my housemates, along with the cast of Friends as an accompaniment (who else?), spent hours typing in all sorts of grades. What if we had done slightly better in this assignment? What if I hadn’t skipped that section in the marking criteria? Oh, golly, what if I hadn’t drunk so much on ‘sailor night’ and slept in until 2 p.m. the day the assignment was due in? But, anyhow, these things happen, and whilst it was amusing, and at the same time soul-destroying to see what could have been, the already-received results were what they were.

As I punched in my true, hungover, skipped and ‘sailor night’ grades, I could see that if I got below 80% for my dissertation I would get a 2:1 (decent), but over 80% I would get a First, more commonly known as ‘THE most intelligent person in my family’ degree classification. Months went by, the odd thought of how I would announce my First to my twin brother (mwaaahaaa) came to me, but mainly I thought of the almost certain prospect of a 2:1, which was pretty respectable if you ask me!

The results were back and I had been graded 77%. So there it was, a 2:1! I was happy, mainly because that two months of writing the life-destroying, shower-pending, God-awful thing was over, but also I had achieved something worth singing about!

I read the feedback from the marker, ignoring the actual document as I knew I’d see something embarrassing that I had written/forgotten to do. My main constraint was not the content, not the research, not the methodology, but the flipping grammar and punctuation. Flipping! That’s not the word I used back then! The weighting of the technicalities of the dissertation were massive and when I look back now, if I had known what I know now, I WOULD have had my First!

I have gone on to have a decent career, nothing that would have been different with or without the First, but that time would have been different for me, and actually would have probably reflected the amount of midnight library trips, and the worry and tears when I lost my reference list three days prior to hand-in. It would have reflected my dedication, hard work and desire to do well. And it would have narked my brother too! #twingoals

The fact is, I had more money when I was a student, I know! Regular shopping trips, lunches, weekends away and nights out. Knowing what I know now, I would have paid good money to make sure my assignments and dissertation were technically accurate, and I know, for sure, my certificate would read differently, all for a few quid here and there and not actually any more work and hard graft by me; maybe I could even have justified that 2 p.m. lay in?!

You may be able to relate to me, to my story, my love for Friends, and my hatred of apple sour shots, but whatever your grades, whatever your talents, English-wise, it would be worth its weight in gold to use a proofreading for students service to proofread/edit your work, to ensure it is technically accurate and you have no regrets once the results are in.

Gemma is a proofreader at The Proof and Edit Company.