Sample Student Essay

I’m posting a few quotes from just about four different essays to give you an example of some of the stuff we’ve talked about in class in terms of writing a paragraph, tone, a good intro, a good conclusion, etc. I just have the quote and a brief blurb talking about it afterwards. Please note these are representative of all the essays, just because you don’t see your paper quoted here it doesn’t mean you didn’t make similar mistakes. Let me know if you have questions.

Sample A:

“This reason is not legit… Let me give you an example how this works. You touch a hot stove and it burns you. So what could you possibly do? Sure, yea, you can touch it again or as many times as you like but it is still going to burn you”

This is one of those moments in an essay where I get what the writer is trying to say, but the tone is too conversational. This is one of the “you” examples I was talking about in class. Rhetorical questions can also hurt the overall writing of your essay and words like “yea” should definitely be avoided.

Sample B:

“People in college are studying and get hungry half-way through their session: why not go to McDonalds when they just added 3 new items to their ‘dollar menu’? Maybe they could go to Taco Bell and get the ‘5 Buck Box’? I’m sure that’s really healthy for a stressed college student”

Again another example of conversational language via a number of rhetorical questions. Find ways to make the same statement without relying on these type of phrases. At the end the writer is trying to be sarcastic which hurts the overall tone of the essay and it doesn’t add to the argument. It’s a good point but it needs to be phrased differently.

Sample C:

“Asking a student to take a Calculus Exam with these feelings is unreasonable. Many college campuses around the United States have started to enforce a ‘Tobacco Free’ policy. Many smokers need cigarettes to function normally without headaches and nicotine cravings”

This is taken from one of your intros. The ideas are good but there is no transition from one sentence to the other so at the end the ideas come off as disjointed and not connected when in fact they can be. The repetition of “many” as the beginning of the last two sentences also hurts the overall flow of the writing, remember to be varied in your language.

Sample D:

“Generally speaking, most of the population would agree that obtaining and eating food should be both convenient and effortless. Should a smoker be forced to travel long distances in order to get the nicotine they need to be productive? For many smokers that study and work on campus, it is impossible for them to take a ‘smoke break’ because it requires more time than they are allotted to break or return to class. It is not equitable to inconvenience smokers in a way that they must struggle every day to get the nicotine they need. Because many people live with the addiction to nicotine, it is unethical to create ‘Tobacco Free’ campus”

This is an example of a strong body paragraph. It begins with a transition (“generally speaking”), it has a topic sentence and the writing flows very nicely. The writer makes a solid case defending his claim against a “Tobacco Free” campus by bringing up the difficulties of taking a “smoke break” for workers and students on campus. The last sentence could have been a topic sentence but it also works quite well as a closing statement because it reminds the reader of the writer’s main claim.

Sample E:

“Every single Sunday while driving to church my mom would light up a cigarette, inhaling for five seemingly endless minutes. Meanwhile, I sat in the backseat holding my breath as that fetid smell filled the car. To this day, those memories still haunt me, especially when I am outside for a walk on campus. Smoking on campus is like frying a banana in bacon grease. In other words, vile cigarette smoke polluting your every breath is just as bad as eating a healthy fruit covered in an artery-clogging fat. No sensible person wants to live an unhealthy life”

This is a very strong introduction. It immediately catches the reader’s attention and (since we’re in the rhetorical analysis mindset) has a definite appeal to pathos. When reading this I could imagine myself in the car, I could smell the cigarette smoke, and I could picture exactly what the writer wanted me to picture. Few people can pull this off so I’m always cautious about students using stories to start their essays (they can sometimes be too generic or cliche) but the writer here does a fantastic job at bringing in a story that he also later connects very strongly to his thesis statement.

Sample F:

“To smoke or not to smoke? While it can be argued both ways, the evidence certainly gives plenty of motivation for the latter. Now that I am a college student, free of my mother’s smoke in the back seat of her car, I can see all of the positive aspects of living a smoke-free. A banana is so much sweeter without the grease”

This is the conclusion from the same paper. Notice how the writer comes back to the story from his introduction but he doesn’t merely repeat the intro; instead, he comes back to the story just as a way to reaffirm the claims he has been making throughout the paper and he brings it all full circle. He also emphasizes the banana analogy he has been making throughout the paper with his last sentence. It works so well. I also wanted to show you how two papers that had opposite arguments (paper from Samples C-D argued against a “Tobacco Free” campus and paper from Samples E-F argued for it) could be equally strong.


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