The comment “Excellent” is an affirmative reply.
A professor may write this comment after reading the paper as a whole; or a professor may write “excellent” in the margin of a particular paragraph. The professor typically writes the comment after reading the whole paper. In addition, a professor is never generous with this comment. Similar to “Brilliantly Done,” your paper has to earn this accolade. Typically, out of a class range between 25 and 30 will one person receive this comment, but not all of the time or every semester.
When a professor receives a flood of papers—the final assignment—at the end of a semester, the papers he or she receives represent kinds, or types. Think about the different types of a kind. For example, a Granny Smith is a kind, or type of apple. A Gala is another kind, or type of apple. Each is different in color and taste and they both represent kinds. When your professor receives all of the papers from you and your fellow classmates, these papers, again, represent kinds, or types.
Within the stack of papers, the first paper may represent a plot summary with no analysis. Another student may flood his or her paper with too many quotes. Yet another paper may take much of the author’s words and meanings out of context. Regardless, these are papers that propose to represent a student’s adherence to the final requirement. Therefore, the result of the students’ labors is represented in the form of a paper, a kind.
Within these different kinds lies one that is extraordinarily above all. This one student’s paper not only adheres to the final requirement, which is the first step to assigning a grade, but also the student’s paper goes above and beyond in quality and is set apart from the rest. What happens when you go to a community market to pick out an apple or orange or banana? You fumble through all to find the very best, because you can’t just eat anything.
You don’t want the one that is rotten, or the one that is soft on one side and hard on another, or the one that has lost its color. You want the best that the tree has produced. This same ideology applies to a professor grading your paper and you receiving the comment “Excellent.” Out of the whole stack, the whole bin, your paper has received the best commendation.
Remember that just because you have adhered to the final requirement doesn’t mean you have produced a quality effort or a paper of excellence; but if you should receive such a comment, I would take heed to it. Ask your professor what he means by the comment. Ask him to point out specific instances “where,” “why,” and “how” you have earned “excellence.” Something or someone of excellence is always a thing (or person) that is outstandingly and surpassingly good of its kind; a person who exhibits exceptional merit and produces such value consistently is a person of excellence within the context of writing.
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.