<p>I have been suspended for an academic violation from my university. I had committed a first offense in my junior year where I copied an entire paper from the internet. I was given a warning, and sent on my way. In my second-to-last semester I plagiarized again. However, I feel as though the second instance was different from the first. I want it to be known I am terribly sorry for what happened and I regret it so much. The second time I plagiarized was on a 3 page paper. It was on an analysis of Joseph Conrad's "An Outpost of Progress". The professor had given us a prompt in order to write the essay. I had done genuine research and read many articles on the short story (it is a pretty straightforward story) and came up with basically the same ideas as the sites I visited. I created an originail thesis and multiple arguments based on the prompt given to us. I then copied material (some parts word for word) from a website in a supporting capacity only. The parts that were copied could be divided in two parts. The first part served as a historical component. In the class we had learned about typical late-19th century literature, and I used that part to support my first argument (in the words of another person though). The second part of the short paper was a basic summary of Conrad's short story. Since the copied parts were elements of the public sphere, I did not find it necessary to cite the webpage I read to get the ideas from. I was called in for a hearing and was expelled the first time. With an appeal, I was able to get a reduced sanction (suspension of 2 years). I admit I made a terrbile mistake, but I am wondering if this punishment is a little too harsh. It wasn't as if I didn't do any work on the paper. I believe the thesis and points of argument were the most important part of the paper (I addressed each part of the prompt in an original way) and I modified the information on the webpage to support my claims. If I had just written one little citation, I wouldn't need to post this. Unfortunately, I am in this situation, and I am trying to do something about it. I have moved back home to get a job with a law firm (I've always wanted to pursue a career in law) which I hope will prove that I used my time efficiently and productively. I want nothing more than to graduate from the university I started out at, but 2 years is just an extremely long time to be waiting. Is there any university out there that will accept me to finish my last semester so that I may continue my education? I am very sorry for my mistake and I vow never to do it again. The first offense did not dangle my future in front of me like how the second one did in the form of a potential expulsion. I guess this is what they call maturity. I am not asking for a hand out; I am only asking for a chance to prove myself. If there is any way to screen my work for signs of plagiarism, I would be more than open to that. Also, if I am guilty of any further wrongdoing, I would gladly walk out myself. I am hoping the universities I apply to won't judge me based on my worst actions. I have always heard that education is something that can never be taken away; I am hoping that mine isn't taken away from me. </p>
<p>Above was my original post, but I figured re-posting it would be better for potential replies. Also, I would like a chance to further explain my situation. My university was an expensive one and highly respected. My parents had invested their life savings into my education as well. I committed the first offense and, like I said above, I didn't see what was really at stake. (I know this isn't the best analogy, but imagine two different card games. One allows the betting of fake money and the other allows real money. The average person may feel much more inclined to bet 100k of imaginary money on a bad hand rather than 100k of real money.) I hope this example can help to convey how I felt the two situations were different. We don't see/appreciate what we have until it's on the verge of being taken away. </p>
<p>Furthermore, moving on to the case itself, I had found a website that had many of the same ideas I had formed. They were the same because they weren't extremely profound ideas. Basically, I used the first part of the website's material in a historical context. Countless British newspapers and literature written in the late 19th century (1890-1900) comprised of stories glorifying its colonizers and vilified the colonized. In addition to that, prior to reading Conrad's short story, my class read Kipling's "Gunja Din" and "White Man's Burden". These stories only solidified those characteristics. Therefore, I would have already known the typical composition of literary works at that time thus allowing me to construct my essay.</p>
<p>Secondly, the other half of my essay was a basic summary of Conrad's story. After reading it, I am sure anyone would be able to present the same if not an extremely similar regurgitation of the material. There were only about 4 characters in the entire story, and the satire was obvious. This story is an old one (I wonder how many "original" thoughts are being presented about Shakespeare today - there are only so many ways to analyze a story). Analysis of these classic works share many of the same ideas. Therefore, is it necessary to cite every single article or work analyzing them since the very definition of plagiarism is the copying of ideas? This has led me to believe that the system is flawed especially since we live in an age of information that is readily available with one click. There is no black and white area anymore but more gray shades than ever. Is there no difference in the outright copying of material and the act of doing genuine research and using it to support your own ideas and arguments? If we didn't have states of extent then there would be no difference between killing a man and punching him in the face.</p>
<p>Not only did the professor claim my paper was 80% plagiarized, but she wrongfully included my original thoughts in that claim. She described it as "using terminology that was never utilized in class" (I do believe there is such a thing as outside research). She also stated in her letter that I had barely addressed any of the questions in the prompt, but I actually did. However, there was no correspondence between us (apparently that is school policy) so I was not able to explain why I wrote what I wrote in the way I wrote it. If this was possible, maybe I could have helped her to see the essay differently. </p>
<p>I am not saying that I did not use material that wasn't mine, and needless to say, I am terribly sorry. However, I am of the opinion that my sentence was a little harsh, and a two year suspension is unnecessary. I am in the process of getting an internship/job with a law firm so that I may prove to admissions officers that I am committed to my education and I am determined to move on with my career. I would never, ever risk something like
this again. The argument that I am not capable of doing the work is not a valid one either because prior to writing the penalized paper, I had just completed my writing intensive component for my major in Political Science (20 pg. paper [Grade:B-]) and a term paper in Sociology (16 pg. paper [Grade: B]) where both papers were properly cited and written. The convicted paper was such a short paper and written immediately after the others. Perhaps this was a contributing factor to my sloppy and hasty writing. Wrong as I was, I don't believe that that one paper should determine the rest of my educational career. Those 3 pages shouldn't equate to a two year suspension along with so many hurdles that I will face when reapplying to school as well as applying to law school in the future, especially since I am extremely sorry for my mistake and I'm trying to get a job in my desired field to prove my commitment. I am hoping that a university will be willing to take a chance on me to prove myself and show that I am sorry and that I have learned from my mistake. I don't need two years to see that I have made a dire mistake that could have been easily avoided. I realize that already. I need a chance to finish my education so that I can go on to provide for me and my future family. After all, don't schools exist to help people better their lives? I have a younger brother getting ready for high school, and money is not an infinite resource in my household. This 3 page paper shouldn't determine the next two years of my life. In fact, it would only hurt me. In reality, after paying full tuition for 3 1/2 years, I still only have a high school diploma. That definitely won't get me a job to make any sort of impact on any outstanding bill I may have at my school plus sustain me for two years. Again I am so sorry for what I did, it will never happen again, and I am a firm believer of education being one of the single most important opportunities and advantages in life. You never see how the other side lives until you walk a day in their shoes.</p>
<p><em>I should also note that I have completed all of my Political Science major requirements.
</em>I was planning to take two more philosophy classes for a minor in Philosophy in a semester of all electives.
**I would like to apply to another school for Fall 2010 because I feel like 2 years is just an extremely long time to be out of school. If anyone has any information on schools that would consider my application, please let me know as it would be greatly appreciated.</p>
<p>Any comments, questions, or thoughts on my situation would be greatly appreciated. Personal messages are also welcome. Thanks for taking the time out to learn a little about my case. Have a great day!</p>