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Final Reflection

College writing is a course that helps students write papers and better understand the techniques of writing. During this course, students were able to practice and develop better writing skills. There were some papers I wrote that were better than others, and styles of essays that fit my style of writing. One essay type that I think I excel in is the argumentative essay. However, during the second half of the semester, the class’s focus was on the Creative Project or Literacy Narrative, and Research Project. During the second half of the semester, my most significant work was the Research project and one feature that has benefited my development as a writer was writing longhand.

My most significant work was the Research Project. Our class theme was “our lives in the digital world,” so I decided to research and write about identity theft. This being an 1800-word essay, there were a lot of aspects and details I knew I needed to add, which was the toughest part. My claim was that identity theft affects one’s future financially, emotionally, and physically. I had to introduce what identity theft was, so I provided a definition, factors that increase the chances of one getting their identity stolen and three types of identity theft. After all of the background information was added, I wrote about the effects of identity theft that I mentioned in my claim and provided evidence from research articles. I also added what to do to if one feels they have been victimized. This essay was challenging because I felt I added enough information, but the word count was too low. So, that’s when I decided to add a fourth type of identity theft and the approaches thieves take to steal one’s identity. I was satisfied with my essay once it was completed because it not only answered my claim, but was also very informative in the steps taken by thieves and victims. Adding extra information can pull together the whole essay.

Writing longhand was a feature that has benefited my development as a writer and a student. Writing longhand tends to allow me to better remember information and annotate later. For this course, writing longhand was a benefit in planning my essays, as I could easily bullet, highlight, and organize information I want to include in my writing pieces. Writing longhand decreases “the problem of trying to draft and edit at the same time” (Rosenwasser, p. 125). This will help me in future courses that require writing essays and other pieces. This also helped me in my major courses because it helps me organize my notes for class and test taking, and I have learned that rewriting notes helps my brain remember information. When doing chemistry equations, I find it much easier to write them down and work them out rather than using just my calculator because I can write down each step. I have noticed that a lot of students type their notes on their computer but writing them is more beneficial in my opinion because they are easier to go back to.

Writing longhand and high word-count essays have helped me develop my writing skills and will provide me with a solid foundation when writing papers for future courses. Writing is a crucial part of college and having a background in writing is an advantage. The topics and style of essays will change throughout college, but this course allowed me to have a solid foundation of writing that can open many more doors to future writing pieces.

Work Cited

Rosenwasser, David and Jill Stephen. “Writing on Computers vs. Writing on Paper.” Writing Analytically, 8th edition. Wadsworth/Cengage, 2019. pp. 124-25.

“Blog vs. Term Paper” Analysis Essay

Literature becomes more challenging as we advance in school, from short stories and children’s books to hefty novels and Shakespeare. An idea to ease the stress students have has been brought to the attention of many: blogs. Blogs allow students to write to an audience with a more personal twist, instead of just making that A grade. In Matt Richtel’s New York Times article, “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” he reports on both sides of the blog-term paper debate. Although Richtel seems to prefer blogs, presenting both sides of the debate gives the audience an understanding of what experts think and why they believe one is better than the other.  

One of the most important things students get from reading and writing are skill sets. Term papers teach key aspects of thinking, analyzing, and writing, whereas blogs fail to do so. Douglas B. Reeves, the founder of the Leadership and Learning Center, claims that writing papers is a “dying art,” but proves the point of term papers as better by mentioning that people who do write them have an advantage in “critical thinking” and “argumentation.” Richtel makes the argument that term papers force students to “make a point, explain it, defend it, and repeat it.” Richtel claims that some see this as rigid and boring, and although this may be true, Richtel claims that defenders call this rigidity “pedagogy,” a method and practice of teaching, not “punishment.” Both sides of the debate know that term papers are rigid, but they will help strengthen students’ writing skills for the future.

Learning to write good term papers can put some at an advantage in future careers. Reeves claims that term papers will help “not only in college but in the job market.” These critical thinking and argumentation skills that Reeves mentioned are crucial and a “sort of expression” interviewers and bosses are looking for in new employees. Reading increases vocabulary, creativity, comprehension, and the ability to use and identify literary devices. Reeves claims that there are interesting blogs, but that nobody would combine “interesting writing with premise, evidence, argument and conclusion,” meaning that blogs fail to show these techniques. This will help students not only land a job in the writing field but jobs where any sort of writing is needed to be made, which is most jobs. Cathy N. Davidson, a retired English professor at Duke University, is the main defender of wanting to replace the term paper with blogs. She had her students write letters, life stories, essays about chosen careers, and blog posts about materials read in class. Career-wise, her decision of wanting to discard the term paper hurt her because this irritated her colleagues and got her kicked from the writing program. Do these short writings really show students’ ability to write, or just their natural voice?

Many argue that blogs are a way to destress students and let them “play to [their] passions,” as Richtel claims Andrea A. Lunsford, professor at Stanford University, is trying to do. She claims that students are producing something “personally rewarding and valuable” instead of “only [producing] a grade” with term papers. In an earlier paragraph, Richtel asks the question “why punish with a term paper when [blogs] are, relatively, fun?” Although now, following Lunsford’s opinion, Richtel states that teachers can use both term papers and blogs, but the debate still stands that term papers or blogs can be better than the opposing.

When Davidson left Duke, she started to tutor at a community college. One time she remembers is when she told a student who was given the assignment to follow the rules his teacher has provided him with because she did not know if he would have passed the class if he had done it her way. She hated teaching him “bad writing.” Following the guidelines provided by teachers is far from bad writing. We are all taught how to write in different ways based on the education each of us receive.

Defenders of both the term paper and blog make good points. Richtel does a great job at not creating too much bias when presenting the arguments for why some think the term paper is better, as there is evidence mentioned before that Richtel is more of an advocate for the term paper. Although Richtel focuses on Davidson the most, it works in creating the main point of the article because she is the main supporter of the blog. Richtel not blatantly mentioning his stance on the debate strengthens the article by giving experts their say in why their position is valid.

Work Cited

Richtel, Matt. “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2012,

College Writing Midterm Reflection

College writing is a course to help students better understand the fundamentals and techniques of writing. I think I am a diligent writer because I was in AP English courses in my junior and senior years of high school, so I have had lots of experience. However, I do not write crazy detailed essays with depth and sophistication, so I think I think I am average, but diligent with how I write. There are improvements that can still be made in my writing, and this course is helping me get closer to achieving them. The most significant work is the planning, drafting, and revising of my analysis essay and keeping a journal. The most beneficial feature is the Check, Please! Starter Course lessons.

Planning, drafting, and revising my analysis got me back into the rhythm of writing essays. I am not great at planning out my essays because I just write a brief description or bullet points of what each paragraph will be about and start writing my draft from there. For drafting, I like to write a whole starting essay instead of just bullet points, which will make it easier to revise at a later date. To revise my analysis for the final draft, I typed my draft into a Word document, highlighted what I wanted or needed to change, and add comments on what to change it to and how to change it. It is at this point where I go back and make revisions. Most of the time I must add more details and sentences because my draft is usually under the word count and simplistic. Analysis essays are not the easiest to write even though they are mostly summaries of a text and how the author writes. The hardest part is “arriving at an understanding of a subject” rather than “self-expression or changing readers’ views (Rosenwasser, p. 5). However, analyzing how the author writes and why they write it is difficult for me because I usually just see the bigger picture instead of looking sentence by sentence to find meaning.

Keeping a journal is an advantage because I can look back at my writing and class activities. In class, we write Scrabble summaries based on our game the week before and assigned prompts. Writing summaries for Scrabble forces me to go in detail about the game played and think about the choices I made. In Scrabble, I must think of words to use and sometimes my partner puts a word together with the tiles that I did not see before. So, these games are increasing my vocabulary. This increased my ability to form words and strategize where to put words. Prompts that have been assigned include personal experiences and reflections on pieces of writing. I usually do not write a lot for journal writings if they are personal because I do not want to go into too much detail about my experiences. If they are summaries or reflections of things we read, I write more because it is easier to me to write about what I just read than thinking of things that have happened in the past and include detail. To me, journal writing is a warm-up to start the class.

Completing the Check, Please! Starter Course lessons that have been assigned so far have made me aware of the ‘dangers’ of not checking whether a source is credible or reliable. One quick technique that I like is “Just add Wikipedia,” which is used to check the URL, besides everything after the backslash, to determine if the source is credible or uncredible, such as fake news or hate. There were practice examples included to see if I was on the right track to deem a source credible. This Wikipedia trick is the most beneficial thing I learned from these course lessons because they will help me with future research projects to check the credibility of sites and people.

Since I had a full semester without a writing or reading class, I had to get used to writing essays again since I had not written essays since high school. I got back into the rhythm quick for this class because I was always so used to writing. My strongest suit was always argumentative essays because I can give my own opinion and support it. We haven’t done an argumentative essay in this class yet, so I am looking forward to getting an opportunity to do that and excel. Hopefully, I can push myself to put a lot of effort into my writing until the end of the semester.

Work Cited

Rosenwasser, David and Jill Stephen. “Distinguishing Analysis from Summary, Expressive Writing, and Argument.” Writing Analytically, 8th edition. Wadsworth/Cengage, 2019. pp. 5-6.

Humiliating First Essay: Creative Writing Project

The first essay that I vividly remember writing was in my sixth-grade history class. In this class taught by Mr. Stuartt, we had to choose an important historical figure and write about their life. This was the first, from what I remember, out of two bibliographies that I have had to write thus far, except a bibliography project on Sacagawea in fifth grade. I made mistakes in deciding whom to write about and how to go about organizing and writing the bibliography. Unfortunately, this essay was far from easy and one of my worst pieces of writing.

Instead of choosing a historical figure I somewhat knew about, I decided to choose a German man named Otto Von Bismarck. In short, he was a German Prime Minister and the first Chancellor of Germany. The information found was so complex and there was a lot I had to work with, but it was a lot to process, and I was not very interested in his life; How could I write so much about a historical figure I had no interest in learning about? This decision haunted me during the entire writing process. First, I had to write a bibliography about a man I had never heard of and second, it had to be somewhere in between one thousand to two thousand words. I had not started the essay yet and I knew this early decision would be detrimental.

The writing process did not go as I would have hoped it to. There was a lot of information to fit, yet it seemed like there was also not enough. I kept pushing the essay further so I wouldn’t have to do it and as soon as I knew, there was a week left before the due date. At this point, the stress regarding this essay had gotten to me and I honestly wanted to take the zero. But I stuck through with it and remember sitting down for, what had to be, 5 hours gathering important information, organizing it, and creating an essay with it that made sense and was written on the timeline of von Bismarck’s life. After writing about 800 words, I thought I was doing well and started to be able to just simply write.

I only could have wished that was true. I still needed more words, but I decided to have my mom proofread my essay to get her input and make sure it was good: it was not. There were many grammatically incorrect sentences, and all the information was jumbled together in no specific way. After we revised it, we barely had more than half of the word count. At this point, the essay was handed off to my mom. I may have cried a little because of my frustration with myself and the whole project. She extended my sentences and asked me for more information to put in the essay. I knew she was getting frustrated because I am stubborn and wanted it to be a certain way, but if I decided that I could not write it, it would not be my way. After long hours of sitting in my parents’ room while either my mom or I wrote this essay, it was finally finished.

When I got my essay back, I was not shocked to have gotten a low C grade. I was disappointed, but I didn’t expect a higher grade. I learned my lesson after that and when I had my second bibliography four years later in tenth grade, I wrote it about Ronald Reagan, whom I was influenced by and knew about. High school grading was more rigorous and although I got a B-, there was much improvement in my writing. When I write essays now, I write with my own voice and try to make them reflect my style of writing.

Effects of Identity Theft on One’s Future

Identity theft occurs when someone steals or uses another’s personal information to commit fraud or other crimes. Personal information includes, but is not limited to, someone’s name, social security, or credit card information. About 9 million identities are stolen every year but since most do not report it, there may be millions more. There are predictors of identity theft and many kinds of identity theft. Identity theft affects one’s future financially, which can lead to emotional and physical stress.  

Some factors can increase the chances of one getting their identity stolen. It is most common between the ages of 25 to 54, as shown by the FTC’s, Federal Trade Commission’s, 2003 survey (Hu et al., 2020). Based on gender, some report that females have higher rates of victimization, some men have higher rates, and there is no significant difference between victimization rates between men and women. Whites were sometimes observed to have higher victimization rates, but another major study showed race and ethnicity were not “significant predictors of identity theft,” (Hu et al., 2020). Family structure can also predict identity theft. K.B. Anderson, writer and conductor of another study, reports that individuals residing by themselves have a 35% higher chance of identity theft than those who live in a household with two or more adults (Hu et al., 2020). The most significant predictor, however, is income and economic status. Anderson reports that people earning 75,000 USD or more have a significantly higher risk of identity theft than those making 25,000 USD or less (Hu et al., 2020). These findings unsurprisingly show that people with a high income have the greatest chance of identity theft.

Medical theft is the use of health insurance information or social security number to obtain medical services or goods to obtain money. An indicator that one is a victim of medical identity theft is if one is receiving medical bills for something that was not received by the victim. Another is being denied health insurance or plan benefits because of “false medical statements” of health conditions that the victim was never diagnosed with (Walters & Betz, 2012). A significant problem is that the victim may never know they are victims of identity theft, or their information is even being used. If the thief is unknowingly treated for a condition or prescribed medicine under the victim’s information, it could lead to inappropriate diagnoses of the victim. A possible consequence of medical identity theft is being denied employment. Since employers do not tend to explain the reason for denying employment, the victim may not know it is due to their “inaccurate medical history” (Walters and Betz, 2012). Those running for public office may also be in jeopardy because information of false medical reports under their name may get out to the media and lead to controversy.   

Financial identity theft is the compromise of an existing financial account or accounts or the creation of new accounts by an unwanted third party acting in your name. Thieves could steal money or make purchases, create checking or savings accounts, credit or debit cards, loans, insurance, etc. This leaves victims with debt collection, and possibly, bankruptcy. The difference between identity theft and financial identity theft is that instead of the thief using a real social security number to create a fake identity, they use another’s identity for personal monetary gain. Most types of identity theft are used for the thief’s monetary gain, so financial theft is very much the basis for most other types. 

Child identity theft is when a child, under the age of eighteen, has their personal information stolen to commit fraud. Thieves can use a child’s identity for many years without getting caught because creditors do not usually match social security numbers with birthdates (Betz et al., 2012). Thieves use children’s identities because they have a clean credit history and typically have no established credit score. Thieves want a victim with an unestablished credit score because the victim will not be likely to get any alerts from a bank about bills and a child is most likely not checking their credit reports for any activity. “Unfortunately, parents are the most common perpetrators of child identity theft” (Betz et al., 2012). They apply for auto loans, establish utility, and open credit cards like thieves. If the parents are not thieves, then they are usually people who have access to their social security numbers and birthdates, like school employees or healthcare workers. There are two categories of child identity theft victims identified by a study conducted by L. Foley and C. Nelson in 2009: child victims and adult/child victims (Betz et al, 2012). Child victims are those who have a relative identity theft before the child turns 18. Adult/child identity theft victims are those who do not identify theft when they are adults applying for credit (Betz et al., 2012). Victims of child identity theft often discover this when they are older and by this time, their credit is usually damaged. They may apply for student loans when going to college or apartment leases and get rejected due to a damaged credit they were unaware of.

As children are prone to be victimized, so are senior citizens. Senior identity theft is when an individual uses an elderly person’s personal information for personal gain or in order to commit a fraud or crime. Most have limited knowledge of the internet, resulting in using less secure browsers or not making sure personal information is secure. Steven J.J. Weisman, a crime professor at Bentley University, claims that seniors may be more vulnerable to identity theft because they are “often easy to trick into providing their personal information over the phone” (O’Connell, 2021). Older persons usually have better credit and are wealthier than the following generation. Elders should be aware of the people in their life and make sure they can trust the family or spouses they may give their personal information in case they need help with taxes, online purchases, etc.

The financial effects are most life-damaging. It causes lowered credit scores, utility shut-offs, bankruptcy, and missed time from work (Betz et al., 2012). Opening multiple credit cards at once can lower one’s credit score. Utilities like lights and water can be turned off because of unpaid bills, which cannot be paid due to the amount of money stolen. Bankruptcy can be caused by money stolen from a business, which they must close. Employed victims have to miss time from work to “write letters, make phone calls, and get documents notarized” (Betz et al., 2012). This means that documents must be authenticated by the parties of a transaction. All these cost money, which results in lost wages and sick or vacation days.  It may be hard for victims to buy big-ticket items such as cars and houses because taking out loans is not as easy. It is harder to take out loans if victimized because one’s credit is low, and one will need to provide police reports and documentation that prove victimization. With lawyer fees averaging around 200 to 400 USD per hour, going to court will be expensive, especially for one who just lost loads of money. Victims may have to pay with cash instead of a card, which is not ideal as most adults do not carry much cash.

E. Dadisho, a police chief, stated that identity theft is an “emotionally abusive crime” (Betz et al., 2012). Common emotional effects include shame, anger, powerlessness, and betrayal. Anxiety and shock are also common post victim effects. Identity theft can lead to vulnerability and untrustworthiness. Unfortunately, harassment by collection agencies also commonly occurs. Along with emotional effects come physical effects. In 2007 and 2009, the Identity Theft Resource Center found that victims suffered from, but is not limited to, insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, and sexual dysfunction. More specifically, most victims experienced insomnia 26 weeks after victimization.

Some low-tech approaches thieves use are the theft of wallets, purses, or dumpster diving (Hu et al., 2020). Most commonly, people keep their personal identification and credit cards in their wallets or purses. To prevent theft, one should hold their wallet or hide it somehow and if using a purse, one should hold onto it instead of letting it hang off one’s shoulder for it to be easily snatched. Dumpster diving can provide thieves with thrown-out mail or documents having personal information. To prevent this, one should shred important documents, receipts, etc. One high-tech approach is skimming, which is the “use of electronic equipment” to read credit or debit card information, thus creating new ones to be sold or used.  B.W. Reyns, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Weber State University, recommends that instead of stopping online banking or shopping habits, one should carry them out “exclusively through a secure connection” (Hu et al., 2012). Using public Wi-Fi greatly increases the risk of victimization. The FTC recommends purchasing identity theft protection services, such as credit card monitoring services provided by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This provides notification whenever the “client’s identity is used in a financial transaction” (Hu et al., 2012). Identity theft insurance is also available. If one is suspicious of possible activity on their account, one can freeze their credit. It can help protect one from someone committing fraud by making the credit reports unavailable to potential thieves. Although it can protect one against someone opening credit cards under their name, it cannot protect one from regular identity theft. Instead of just focusing on credit, remain vigilant of other financial aspects.  

Identity theft happens in multiple ways and can cause not only financial effects but also emotional and physical effects. If not caught as soon as possible, identity theft could take effect for the rest of one’s life. If one feels as if they have been a victim of identity theft, there are multiple steps to take. Affected creditors or bankers should be notified, credit reports should be checked and put a fraud alert on if suspicious, credit should be frozen, reports should be made to the FTC and police, and lastly, the fraudulent information should be removed from one’s credit. Although identity theft is not as severe as homicide or arson, it is one type: the kidnapping of one’s self.

Works Cited

Hu, Xiaochen, Xudong Zhang, and Nicholas P. Lovrich. “Forecasting Identity Theft Victims: Analyzing Characteristics and Preventive Actions Through Machine Learning Approaches.” Victims and Offenders, Aug 17, 2020.

Walters, Whitney, and Axton Betz. “Medical Identity Theft.” Faculty Research and Creative Activity until 2018 (FCS), Jan 2012.

Betz, Axton E., Clinton G. Gudmunson, and Gong-Soog Hong. “The Recovery Experiences of Child Identity Theft Victims: Preliminary Results.” Consumer Interests Annual, 2012.

O’Connell, Brian. “Seniors: Victims of Identity Theft.” Lifelock, Feb 4, 2021.

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