Reflecting on the process

I learned many things when doing this project. About writing, about myself, and about what these topics mean to me in the context of my work and life. I also learned a lot about how I will do things differently when I get to the capstone course. Of the things I hope to do differently, starting earlier and having a vision of my project earlier are musts, as well as the need for better time management on my end of all things. In context, the project went well, but at great cost to my personal well being. This was easily avoidable, as I should and could have envisioned my project in a more complete setting from an earlier place in the project. However, all in all it turned out fine. I also am appreciative of the get together we had with the capstone class. That significantly helped my understanding of what a good capstone looks like, as well as my path forward to it. I am hopeful and excited for it, and think that it will go incredibly well.

It’s Over?

I just read through my last edit of my portfolio, and I am honestly shocked that the year is over. I haven’t had a class like the MiW Gateway before, and I am so sad to see it go. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to create content that isn’t standardized and to have had the opportunity to learn with my amazing classmates in Gateway.

I’m very curious to see where the MiW takes me next. I’m currently enrolled in 325, so that Art of the Essay is next on my list. But, after meeting with other Capstone students at the portfolio showcase, I am so excited to get back into a specific MiW class.

So, thanks again MiW, you’ve been good to me.

Modifying College Applications — Where’d the Fun and Creativity Go?

I didn’t want to go to Wake Forest University, but I must admit they had the most fun college application to write, and quite frankly it forced me to be as authentic and creative as possible. Most college applications follow a structure. Something like “Why do you want to attend the University of Michigan?” is pretty standard, or perhaps something like “Discuss an organization or community that you’re a part of and how you’ve improved it since becoming involved.” I think essays like these are important, but without any supplementary essays that really challenge the student to think and be creative, you really don’t know what you’re going to get out of the student.

 

Wake Forest asked some awesome questions:

“Give us your top ten list. Provide a theme.”

I’m sorry — what? Talk about open-ended. It was a trial and error process for me, but I ended up listing my top ten favorite quotes. Hopefully it was creative.

 

Another one that stood out was, “What outrages you and why?”

 

This one was tough, but really made me think.

 

And my favorite: “Given the rise in the power of social media in the last decade, describe your as fully and accurately as possible within the 140-character limit of a Tweet.”

 

I think more and more selective colleges should start asking for these kinds of questions, developing their own unique questions, too. It makes writing these applications fun, and the truly brightest students will show in their responses, differentiating themselves from all of the other students with top numbers. Furthermore, these kinds of questions reduce ability to rely on a tutor, leveling the playing field for lower SES students who can’t afford expensive college application counselors and tutors.

My career goals include finance (venture capital), non-profit and social enterprise, and then education. I hope to be a teacher or headmaster of a school one day, and I will always remember the importance of a creative application process like that of Wake Forest, UChicago and Tufts. It helps fills the role of interviewing students, which is difficult and takes a lot of time. I would love to see more applications for selective schools take this form down the road, schools such as the University of Michigan.

 

I didn’t apply to the University of Chicago, but my best friend did, and I found a pretty cool article about some of their crazy questions! Check it out: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-ridiculous-college-questions-2013-7#university-of-chicago-1

 

“”Have you ever walked through the aisles of a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club and wondered who would buy a jar of mustard a foot and a half tall? We’ve bought it, but it didn’t stop us from wondering about other things, like absurd eating contests, impulse buys, excess, unimagined uses for mustard, storage, preservatives, notions of bigness…and dozens of other ideas both silly and serious. Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard.”

How would you answer that?!

Who Can You Trust? Probably Me

What if things were different?

I can’t help but think how different my portfolio would have been had I chosen to focus it on water sustainability instead of mental health, thoughts and emotions. We would have seen major differences in portfolio voice/tone and display/composition. Currently, my portfolio has a simplistic, adventurous and elegant composition. I also have presented a couple additional works about California, water and drought. But what if water was instead the primary theme or essence of my portfolio?

Initially I had planned to repurpose my commentary about the California Water Crisis (Presented at the very bottom of my portfolio). I wanted to extend it, add more of a story to it, and give it life beyond a 500-600 word count limit. First of all, I don’t think it would have been as fun or compelling to write (or read, for that matter). I think I would have just sounded like another sustainability hippie, blogging concerns online. In that sense, it would have been inauthentic — although I enjoyed researching and writing about water and drought as a topic, it’s not something I’m super passionate or concerned about like mental health, for example. But also, the portfolio would be a little brighter — different colors, photos and a focus on water. Personally, not as interesting. I’m glad things played out the way they did, and I was still able to incorporate some of the water pieces on my portfolio at the end.

You can trust me.

I trust my why I write assessment, but a huge part of that was thanks to the feedback I received from Casey, Ethan and Ray. I started out with a specific structure in my first draft, but I didn’t dig into it because I wanted feedback first. Then I got some direction and recommendation to include deep and specific anecdotes, so that’s exactly what I did. I’d say initially I wouldn’t have trusted my assessment of my why I write from the beginning, but now I’ve got my head on straight. I trusted myself more in the writing the second draft, and I’m ready to add just a little bit more and finish my final draft up. My trust in my assessment is a major testament to the collaborative aspect of this class. Couldn’t have gotten here without some insight.

Form Modification- WSJ Articles

A form of production I am familiar with, but I would like to modify is the Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal articles are very dense and difficult to read, and while this is necessary to some extent, I would like to modify an article to be available to more readers. This could be done by changing the form of the article into a list of key points instead of a paragraph style structure. There is a lot of boilerplate in finance articles that make it accessible to only expert readers that can be eliminated by simply listing the main points of the article and providing either one or two viewpoints on the subject.

Modifying Resumes

I hate writing them, you hate writing them (maybe you like writing them and you should contact me), and they’re full of boilerplate! It’s beyond me how an employer can judge a person based on a few pieces of paper and a list of achievements that may or may not be true. There are sometimes interviews involved, but they’re often a second step (the resume is what gets you the interview). Since life is a narrative, I’d want to create more of a narrative in my resume. I want employers to remember that these pieces of paper represent individuals. However, not everyone will be comfortable writing prose. My brother hates writing personal essays, but is a brilliant scientific writer. So to even the playing field, resume writing will be judged on honesty. The idea is to strip the document of boilerplate and offer specific truths under each “heading”. They don’t need to be beautifully crafted, just genuine. The layout would need to remain organized (split up into categories and headings), but the dates and locations can be integrated. This means that employers will have to read the resume more closely to get all of the information. And people should be able to write in first person!

Form Modification: Case Studies

After Raymond said “Think of something you don’t like and try to modify it,” my brain automatically went to the case studies that I encounter on a daily basis. I don’t like how these studies are set-up to give students information, as I think they lack all of the information that students actually need to learn. Let’s think about a basic case study- you’re given company background, information on the company’s competition, current problems, financial information, and goals- nothing else. To me, this is inherently wrong. How are students supposed to learn about how to solve a company problem when they aren’t given any insight into company dynamics, firm positives, firm negatives, etc. I don’t think it’s possible to learn “business” in these settings.
I think case studies should be introduced to students in a sort of “live role play” type approach. I genuinely think that in order for someone to really learn about a company, they have to be shown the dynamics in a personal, emotional way. Some may disagree, but I think this is a pivotal part of learning.
Don’t get me wrong- I 100% think that case studies can teach you how to solve business problems. But, to actually learn something about business, you have to be placed in the setting- understand the problem and everything that goes into it- not just the qualitative/quantitative information.

Improving the Online Sports Article

I am having particular trouble finding a genre with a form that needs improving. I would think that the form that most writers use would be the best there is, otherwise why would they continue to use it?

A large portion of the pieces that I read are about sports. I have found that I enjoy reading about sports, which would make sense because of my passion for sports, but I do feel that the experience associated with reading online sports articles could be improved with a minor addition to the current format.

As it is now, sports articles can simply provide the reader with an adequate illustration of the situation by using strong imagery while also not taking away from the substance of the article. One way to give the reader a fuller picture of the situation would be to simply show the reader what happened. Fortunately almost every sporting event is broadcast and recorded by a camera to ensure that each and every play is captured for the ages. Integration of these videos into the normal article would significantly help the reader to understand the situation and grasp the significance of any specific play a writer decides to highlight.

I can see how this might be a distraction for the reader, to have to switch from reading to watching, so one way to avoid this becoming a problem is to make the videos an optional component to the reading experience. Present the reader with the opportunity to watch the video, but don’t make it necessary to watch the video to understand the dialogue.

This addition wouldn’t work for print articles for obvious reasons.

Form Modification: Josh Flink

A form that I would like to modify are research articles, particularly Psychology research articles. While I understand that every Psychology research paper needs to fit the same model (abstract, intro, method…), I think the ways in which researchers begin and end their articles is full of wasted potential. The introductions and conclusions are often connected to the real world and giving this issue some significance, but they are bogged down in boring, clunky language. Instead, I propose that in the conclusion or introduction, the researcher adds some ethos and talk about why this topic is important to them, why they are taking the time to write this paper, and what personal significance this article holds. Make the beginning and the end of the articles fun, readable, interesting, and personal. By doing so, the reader will be able to take the research-y part of the article and be able to find more meaning in it.

Form Modification: Josh Flink

A form that I would like to modify are research articles, particularly Psychology research articles. While I understand that every Psychology research paper needs to fit the same model (abstract, intro, method…), I think the ways in which researchers begin and end their articles is full of wasted potential. The introductions and conclusions are often connected to the real world and giving this issue some significance, but they are bogged down in boring, clunky language. Instead, I propose that in the conclusion or introduction, the researcher adds some ethos and talk about why this topic is important to them, why they are taking the time to write this paper, and what personal significance this article holds. Make the beginning and the end of the articles fun, readable, interesting, and personal. By doing so, the reader will be able to take the research-y part of the article and be able to find more meaning in it.