My goal throughout high school was to become a better writer in order to pursue a journalistic career after college. Thus I took as many English courses as possible; some of which included journalism, newspaper committee, and honors English. These courses significantly helped me better my writing skills and consequently made it easier to write papers throughout my high school career. Teachers even commended my writing and often times had me assist others with their assignments. By the end of my senior year I was confident that my transition into college writing would be effortless, but little did I know how difficult writing in college would be.
My first year writing courses showed me that high school did not fully prepare me for college writing. In high school, writing expectations were minimal. One was asked to write a paper, and it always consisted of the standard five paragraph essay. However, college level writing requires one to go beyond the minimum, and better yet, not to follow an inane form of structure. One must thoroughly analyze complex literature, integrate one’s opinions, learn to write in several genres and for several audiences, present a credited argument, and most important, become one’s own filter. Yes, I did use those writing techniques throughout high school, but never at a level that required much work or effort. Those tasks were somewhat minimal. However, as a result of my first year writing courses, I learned to incorporate those rhetorical techniques into my writing and became a better writer because of it.
Some of the rhetorical techniques that made me a better writer are shown in my WRD 103 analysis essay. This essay required examining an argument and presenting a well-written argument on how the author did a good or bad job at presenting her own argument. I did this by identifying how Toulmin’s elements of an argument were incorporated into the author’s essay.
At first, I had much difficulty in writing this assignment, considering that teachers in high school would aid me whenever asked. Thus I spent much time in trying to present my information in a very organized manner. To do so, I placed my introduction first, which included the author’s claim. That was followed by supporting paragraphs that consisted of the reasons, evidence, assumptions, and qualifiers that the author provided to support her claim. I integrated my opinion at the very end, which stated how the author made a good argument. Overall, depicting each element the author used and what credible information was presented throughout the author’s essay consequently made my argument much stronger.
Moreover, this assignment was difficult because my professor was also a supporter of the “be your own filter” motto. She would assign the class a topic and just let us write. One had to find out what were Toulmin’s elements of an argument and from there, find them in the essay she assigned. However, she was not much help at all. Often times she would just sit at her desk and text on her phone, but I believe this neglect challenged me to become a better writer by not always being “spoon-fed” the information.
My second strongest piece is my WRD 104 “America: Land of the Free, but With Many Contradictions.” This essay hit very close to home. It was an essay that I could relate to and this made my passion much stronger when expressing what undocumented students go through to get a higher education. I stated the point of views of the undocumented students, but also those who are against allowing undocumented students to benefit from federal financial aid. I believe that showing the opposing views of an argument is essential because one can then disproof one of those views in order to make a case. For example, I stated that many people in the United States believe that undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes because of their lack of a social security number. Thus undocumented students should not benefit from the taxes American citizens or residents pay. However, a great proportion of undocumented immigrants do pay taxes. They do this through a tax identification number provided by the Internal Revenue Service. I also presented the economic hardships that undocumented families encounter, as well as court cases that prove education should not, or more precisely, does not discriminate against anyone. Moreover, I presented information on the struggles that undocumented students face after college if they are able to acquire a college degree. All this information supported my claim, but finding it did not come easy.
I was optimistic when we were told that we would be our own “filters” when composing our essays. I assumed it would not be a problem finding everything on my own. However, because I live so far away from school, being my own filter almost became a nightmare. I went to my local library and asked if they had anything on undocumented students or immigration in general, but no information was found. I was somewhat surprised considering that immigration is very much prevalent at this time. Therefore, I decided to ditch the library and investigate from home. I began my research by how most students begin their intellectual investigations: Google. I found it pretty helpful finding information, but I did not view much of the searches as credible because most of them were blogs, institutions that I had never heard of or found much information on. Thus I decided to move along to a place where there would most likely be credible information: DePaul’s database. Consequently, I found most of my information from journals in DePaul’s database. Some consisted of Harvard Reviews and journals from The College Board. I knew these were credible sources because the journals cited other prestigious institutions in which they located their information. Also, The College Board is a well-known institution that works with various universities in order to provide standardized tests, as well as studies of universities throughout the country.
Overall, I think that I succeeded in becoming my own filter because of my first year writing courses. I learned that although some libraries might not carry the information I need, there are always other places to look. Although I used DePaul’s database for most of my research done this quarter, I also sought former professors for help. For example, I contacted my Latino psychology professor from first quarter and asked if I could borrow a book she was so fond about during the fall term. This book provided interviews from undocumented students and was extremely helpful when looking for information to support my “Purpose of College” essay.
Therefore, being one’s own filter is not something that should be dreadful. It is a process that makes one a better writer and investigator; a process that will definitely help me in my pursuit of a journalistic career, because being “spoon-fed” the information does not constitute being a journalist.