Below we offer an example of a thoughtful reflective essay that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.
Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CI Code of Conduct.
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Sample Reflective Essay #2
Author: Nekisa Mahzad
I have been a student at California State University Channel Islands (CI) for 5 semesters, and over the course of my stay I have grown and learned more that I thought possible. I came to this school from Moorpark Community College already knowing that I wanted to be an English teacher; I had taken numerous English courses and though I knew exactly what I was headed for-was I ever wrong. Going through the English program has taught me so much more than stuff about literature and language, it has taught me how to be me. I have learned here how to write and express myself, how to think for myself, and how to find the answers to the things that I don't know. Most importantly I have learned how important literature and language are.
When I started at CI, I thought I was going to spend the next 3 years reading classics, discussing them and then writing about them. That was what I did in community college English courses, so I didn't think it would be much different here. On the surface, to an outsider, I am sure that this is what it appears that C.I. English majors do. In most all my classes I did read, discuss, and write papers; however, I quickly found out that that there was so much more to it. One specific experience I had while at C.I. really shows how integrated this learning is. Instead of writing a paper for my final project in Perspectives of Multicultural Literature (ENGL 449), I decided with a friend to venture to an Indian reservation and compare it to a book we read by Sherman Alexie. We had a great time and we learned so much more that we ever could have done from writing a paper. The opportunity to do that showed me that there are so many ways that one can learn that are both fun and educational.
The English courses also taught me how powerful the written word and language can be. Words tell so much more than a story. Stories tell about life and the human condition, they bring up the past and people and cultures that are long gone. Literature teaches about the self and the world surrounding the self. From these classes I learned about the world, its people and its history; through literature I learned how we as humans are all related. By writing about what we learn and/or what we believe, we are learning how to express ourselves.
I know that my ability to write and express my ideas, thoughts and knowledge has grown stronger each semester. I have always struggled to put my thoughts on paper in a manner that is coherent and correct according to assignments. I can remember being told numerous times in community college to "organize your thoughts" or "provide more support and examples". These are the things that I have worked on and improved over the past couple of years and I feel that my work shows this. The papers I wrote when I first started here at C.I. were bland and short. In these early papers, I would just restate what we learned in class and what I had found in my research. I did not formulate my own ideas and support them with the works of others. The classes I have taken the past couple semesters have really help me shed that bad habit and write better papers with better ideas. I have learned how to write various styles of papers in different forms and different fields. I feel confident that I could write a paper about most anything and know how to cite and format it properly.
There are a couple of things that I do feel I lack the confidence and skill to perform, and that is what I hope to gain from participating in Capstone. I am scared to teach because I don't know how to share my knowledge with others-students who may have no idea what I am talking about. I hope to learn more about how teachers share their knowledge as part of my Capstone project.
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Careers in English and Writing
The English program at California State University Channel Islands prepares students for a wide range of exciting and rewarding careers, including:
- English teacher
- Social media strategist
- Media production (film, TV, internet)
- Print and digital publishing
- Corporate communications
- Foreign service
- Human resources
- Foundations/non-profit management
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Being well-educated has become a norm in American society. Higher education is one of the main criterion for employers when considering a job candidate. It serves as an indicator that helps people to form opinions about each other, and the presence or absence of higher education often impacts the life of a person significantly (Horowitz 345). The meaning of higher education for a modern American individual cannot be overestimated.
Education plays another significant role besides the social one: it noticeably affects personality (Horowitz 287). Students often choose their major in accordance with their ideologies and values, as their formed identities are usually already in place when entering a university or college. However, the nature of the material that students learn about and the methods used to master disciplines learned can influence their world outlook and beliefs.
When I entered the faculty of philosophy seven years ago, I did not think about the changes this specialization would invoke in me. Most of all, I cared about earning a higher education degree, and though I had some interest in philosophy, I had no intention of going any deeper into it than was necessary to pass the exams. But as time passed, I found philosophy more and more absorbing, and when I graduated, I was a completely different person compared to the times when I was a freshman.
One cannot study successfully without perceiving and analyzing new information, and the faculty of philosophy is a place where students constantly receive large amounts of data. Every philosopher, concept, or school of thought had to be scrutinized. This process was impossible without a critical evaluation of the comprehended material. We agreed or disagreed with famous thinkers, argued in favor or against theses, and came up with our own interpretations. We were in a condition of permanent choice, sorting out the material, and choosing paradigms that matched our outlook at that moment. This way, we built up substantial intellectual capital, which shifted our outlook and made it more complete and versatile.
It is not only the nature of the information that students receive in educational institutions that affect their personalities, but also scientific methods that are used during the educational process (Gabber 27). A method is an aggregate of ways and means to acquire new knowledge. Methods used in philosophy are numerous and diverse; thus, when a person constantly uses certain approaches for comprehension, they get accustomed to thinking in a specific manner. This manner determines not only the way of thinking, but also the way of cognizing and interpreting the surrounding reality and one’s attitude towards it. It also contributes to changes that occur in students’ identities.
It can be stated that education facilitates the formation of people’s personalities. Though many students enter a university or college with an already shaped set of values and attitudes, the nature of the material, as well as methods that are used for its contemplation and comprehension can affect one’s identity significantly. I believe despite the fact it may sound like stereotyping, people who share the same specialization and the same profession have much in common. It would not be an exaggeration to say that physicians, lawyers, artists, musicians, and others share outlooks that are similar to some extent.
Horowitz, Nicholas. Education’s Impact on our Private Lives. New York: Cloudy Hill Press, 2008. Print.
Gabber, Natalia. Methods Present in Education. Boston: Ransom Books, 2011. Print.
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