For your first essay, you have five topics from which to choose:
Topic 1: Should Foreign Language Instruction Be Mandatory in Middle/High School?
I took four years of German in grades 9 through 12, plus three more semesters of it in college. In
graduate school, I was forced to show proficiency in a foreign language in order to graduate. Many
of you have had similar experiences. Should foreign language instruction be forced upon
Topic 2: Should Tattoos and/or Body Piercings Be Allowed in the Workplace?
Lots of people have tattoos and/or body
piercings; however, many people find them
to be unattractive, unprofessional,
frightening, or just gross. Many times, the
public cannot see someone’s tattoo, so it
doesn’t matter (Dolly Parton, for example, is
said to be covered in them!). On the other
hand, what about the more visual ones?
Should a company have the right to not
hire, fire, or not promote someone due to
their tattoos or body mods?
Topic 3: Should NASA be Funded?
NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, created in 1958, cost the American
taxpayer 19.5 billion dollars in 2017. Is it worth it? Should we continue to fund NASA or leave
space exploration to other countries and/or private corporations like Elon Musk’s SpaceX or
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic?Topic 4: For-Profit Prisons
“The for-profit prison industry in the United States is growing at a time when the inmate
population is declining. Critics argue that corporate-run prisons pose more safety problems than
public ones, saying the companies hire fewer guards and cut costs to make money. Lawsuits by
inmates and civil rights groups allege that cost-cutting is leading to dangerous prison conditions
and poor medical care. But the industry and its supporters say private prisons are as safe as
government-run facilities and that privatization helps governments avoid overcrowding and save
money” (Christina L. Lyons, “For-Profit Prisons”). Should for-profit prisons be allowed in the
Topic 5: The Dark Web
Millions of people worldwide are using computer technology that allows them to visit websites,
communicate with others and conduct business online without leaving a trace of their identity or
location. That so-called anonymizing technology has created what experts call the Dark Web, a
murky layer of the online world far less visible than the one accessible by Google and other
common search engines. Proponents say the Dark Web’s ability to mask identities helps protect
dissidents in repressive regimes, allows police and military personnel to conduct covert
operations and lets human rights activists report atrocities without risking reprisal. But critics say
the Dark Web is a pathway for cybercrime, used by child pornographers, drug dealers and sex
traffickers to hide their illegal dealings. Some law enforcement officials say the technology
cripples their ability to catch criminals. But civil-liberties advocates counter that online
anonymity is so valuable for good causes that it must not be curtailed. Should the “Dark Web”
be monitored, shut down completely, or left alone?Summary of Requirements
• 750-1,000 words of text (the body of the paper, not including the title, your name, or the
Works Cited page).
• Use of at least one outside source; three sources is the maximum.
• Your essay must include a Works Cited page and in-text citations.
• Use of first person, second person, and contractions are not generally acceptable in academic
writing. Avoid them. You will lose one point for each instance that I find.
• Correct essay format (see the PAPER FORMAT link on the Modules page). Expect a one
letter grade penalty for incorrect essay format.
• Your essay must be submitted as a Microsoft Word file attachment. I cannot open every type
of file through Canvas. I am limited to .doc, .docx, and .rtf extensions. I cannot open .odt
files or .pages, so don’t bother.
• Essays must use 8th edition MLA format, which is covered in our textbook. Essays
submitted in APA, Chicago, or 7th edition MLA format will not be accepted.
• Essays which do not meet the minimum length requirement will receive a zero.
• I assume that you have successfully completed English 101 or an equivalent, and therefore
you know how to construct a college-level essay. Among other things, this means that you
should be able to construct a thesis statement and support that thesis appropriately.
• In addition, you should have no trouble producing an introduction and conclusion paragraph,
along with body paragraphs.
• It is also assumed that you “have a handle” on the more common writing errors. Your
writing should be clear of issues such as sentence fragments and comma splices, for
example. You should be able to use punctuation reasonably well, avoiding common
mistakes such as those with semicolons. In short, you should be past the stage where the
mechanics of writing are a concern (referring to grammar, spelling, and punctuation).
NOTE: If you have not done so already, you should read the course RUBRIC on the
MODULES page. The criteria used to grade your essays is discussed there.Essay Help
CSN Library Services: Start Your Research Here
CSN Library Services: Use the Best Sources – a quick video about finding and using
CSN Library Services: Find Articles – a quick video about finding articles on databases
such as ProQuest and EBSCO Complete
CSN Library Services: Find Pro/Con Information – a quick video about finding pro/con
information from databases like Opposing Viewpoints in Context and Issues and
Controversies on File
My personal favorite site for research is CQ Researcher which can be accessed from
CSN’s databases page.
Another excellent source on just about anything writing related is Purdue’s Online
Writing Lab (OWL).
• Note the left margin on this page, which includes topics such as “General Writing
Introduction,” “The Writing Process,” and “Academic Writing.” There are also
sections on grammar, mechanics, and punctuation. These are really, really
Smarthinking is a tool for online tutoring and writing help. It can be accessed from the
left margin of the Canvas page. According to their website, “We can review your essay
or other writing assignment in any subject. We’ll give you a detailed critique that
identifies your strengths and shows exactly how to improve. You’ll get a focused
revision plan, targeted comments where you need them, and writing help on any issue
you ask us about.”
CSN Writing Centers – this is always a good place to get help. Be sure to take a copy
of the assignment with you so that the tutors know what you are supposed to be doing!