For my third experiment, I decided to go with a genre that is more personal and text heavy than my previous ones. I chose to look into doing an open letter, specifically one addressed to the University of Michigan Office of Undergraduate Admissions. I have limited experience with reading open letters and I have never written one before, so this genre presented me with a unique challenge. My previous experiments were definitely in areas that I was more familiar with, so I had to do my research and push myself out of my comfort zone a little bit more for this one. I ended up really liking the flexibility of this genre in terms of content–an open letter can be written to just about anyone regarding just about anything. I also really liked how complex the audience of this genre is; on the surface, it seems like open letters are written pretty explicitly for a specific audience, namely the subject that is addressed in the title. However, this genre actually has a lot of power that is derived from its secondary intent to reach a broader, more implicit audience.
I think that a fully realized version of this experiment would end up being a lot more personal than my proposal was initially geared toward. One of the greatest affordances of the open letter is the validity of personal experience it allows for. Instead of having a completely evidence-driven letter recounting the empirical ways in which the college admissions process is unfair, my fully realized open letter would definitely lean on my own experience applying to, getting rejected from, and ultimately committing to college.
The foundation of the narrative behind my origin experience is a fight that my parents and I got into regarding college applications my senior year of high school. The stress that college applications and admissions causes is definitely key to my origin piece. This experiment would basically pull at that thread and push it into the current conversation about a legitimate issue that needs to be discussed. College admissions is something that is really salient to people my age, especially those who come from lower income, first generation, and/or minority backgrounds. Also, due to the recent college admissions scandal, I felt like doing a piece oriented toward this subject matter is incredibly relevant beyond my origin piece.
A fully realized version of this would require me to dive a little bit deeper into the conventional balance between the personal subject matter and its broader, more objective application. Otherwise, it does not really require me to pick up any additional skills. The open letter would just have to be typed up and then published on some sort of platform. This could be a personal blog or it could be a newspaper’s website. Ideally, due to the subject matter that my open letter deals with, this piece would be published in an outlet like the Michigan Daily, which is the University’s main newspaper. From here, it would be shared through social media, i.e. Facebook and Twitter, in order to fully make its intended impact.