Claim: A student who belongs to a fraternity that keeps a file of members’ papers and exams sifts through the stack and selects a several-year-old term paper to copy and resubmit. When he gets his paper back from the professor, it includes a grade of ‘A’ and the prof’s comment, “When I wrote this paper as a freshman it only received a ‘C’, and I always thought it was worth more.”
[Collected on the Internet, 1997]
A student procrastinated on writing a paper. The day before the paper was due, he went to the university library and found an old paper written on the same subject. He simply copied it, typed it up, and turned it in. A few weeks later, the professor was handing the papers back to the class. He stopped by the student’s desk. He supposedly said to the student: “Twenty-five years ago, when I wrote this paper, it got a B. I always thought it deserved an A.” He set the paper down on the student’s desk, and there was a big A on the cover! The professor continued: “Try anything like this again and I’ll have you thrown out of school.”
Asked to write an essay about Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a sophomore at a Southern university was gratified to receive an ‘A’ for his effort, but then was summoned to his professor’s inner sanctum.
“My boy,” began the professor, “you probably are not aware of the fact that I am a fraternity brother of yours — and spent my undergraduate days in the very chapter house you live in now. What’s more, we used to keep a pile of old student essays on hand for consultation just as you do today. You have had the bad luck to copy word for word a paper on Hamlet that I happened to write myself.”
“Now,” continued the professor, “I suppose you’re wondering why I gave you an ‘A’ on it. When I turned in the paper, the crusty prof I had only marked it `B’. And I always have felt it richly deserved an ‘A’!”
Origins: This is one of several similar
legends involving students who try to slip one over on instructors by submitting someone else’s papers (such as
Sightings: Look for this legend in an episode of television’s Welcome Back, Kotter (“Epstein’s Term Paper,” original air date
Last updated: 28 June 2011
Bronner, Simon J.
Piled Higher and Deeper.
Little Rock: August House, 1990. ISBN 0-87483-154-7 (p. 39). Brunvand, Jan Harold. Curses! Broiled Again! New York: W. W. Norton, 1989. ISBN 0-393-30711-5 (p. 287). Cerf, Bennett. The Laugh’s on Me. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1959 (p. 114). Cerf, Bennett. Laugh Day. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1965 (p. 360). Dorson, Richard M. Handbook of American Folklore. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983 (p. 108). Fitton, Mary Louise. “College Folklore.” Hoosier Folklore Bulletin 1 (2) (p. 41).
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.