Where will my future lead me?

This essay will analyze two related texts involving the following theme:

Where will my future lead me?

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As students attend college and then enter the world beyond, they are faced with numerous challenges. They must plan a life for themselves, a life which will include a chosen field—a career—as well as a commitment to certain values and activities. All of these aspects of life will play a part in shaping their identities as workers, as citizens, and as human beings.

In Essay III, you will discuss two authors’ views of how one might move forward into such a life. The following three texts, from which you must choose, present varying points of view on how one might move into one’s future in a successful or meaningful way. Here are the three texts:

“How to Get a Real Education” Scott Adams (handout/on Blackboard)

“Commencement Speech, University of Portland” Paul Hawken, p. 498

“It’s Not About You” David Brooks, p. 368

While this assignment is, in part, a comparison/contrast essay, it is more than that. You must analyze each author’s message about the possibilities and processes that help us shape our futures. You must then support your interpretation of these meanings and their relationship to one another through evidence drawn from each text–that is, quotation, paraphrase, and summary. And, of course, you will point out where the two authors’ ideas converge and where they diverge.

Your thinking/writing process may look something like this:

Think about what similarities and differences can be seen between these two essays’ explanations of building a future—whether it is in terms of our careers or our very selves. Then identify what message is being expressed in each of the two essays.

You may assume that there is some basic similarity between the texts—in subject matter, for instance. This is the “hinge” that will enable you to examine them together.

If the texts have many similarities, you may wish to look to see whether there are any important differences.

Once you see what similarities exist between these two essays, use this as a way to establish what the essays have in common. Then create a thesis statement that focuses on the important contrasts between the two essays and their messages about building a future.

But if the texts seem quite different (even with the basic similarity), you will likely want to look so see whether there are any surprising similarities that are not immediately obvious. In this case, you may begin with the obvious differences, and then focus on the important similarities.

Your thesis may be something like this–

• Starting with similarities/focusing on differences:

“While both of these essays present (whatever you see as the similarity), A’s essay explains (the point of A’s essay as you see it), while B’s essay reveals (the point of B’s essay as you see it).”

or like this—

• Starting with differences/focusing on similarities:

“While A’s essay involves/explains (the particulars of A’s essay) and B’s essay involves/explains (the quite different situation of B’s essay), both texts/authors/situations reveal (the interesting similarity that links the two).”

• Obviously, you will want to choose a wording that most closely fits your particular understanding of the texts, their points, and the relationship you see between them. The models shown above are to be used as models in only the most general way.

Be certain that the body paragraphs do the following:

a. relate to the thesis

b. present clear points (topic sentences)

c. are fully developed

d. use quotations, paraphrases, summaries, references, etc. to support the point you are making.

Length: approximately 4 pages.

Please include MLA style in-text citations and an appropriately formatted Works Cited list.

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