John Farrier's Comments

I teach APA and MLA documentation to college students a lot and this essay reminded me of why. Documentation and style standards are complex sets of instructions. You may not have to write in one after college, but you will have to follow complex instructions. Writing in a standard documentation style is good practice for people who haven't developed the mental habit of reading and following directions.
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There's a point of diminishing returns, but many people don't try to reach it.

What advice could she have given that would have been more practical? I'm at a loss to think of anything.

"Nepotism trumps hard work every time." Sometimes, yes. Every time? No.
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