The Bachelor’s Degree course in Liberal Arts at Excelsior College focuses on proficiency in writing skills. Writing is an essential skill necessary for nearly everybody; good writing skills support educational and occupational success. The course deals with writing basic essays and the process of writing in general. A well-written composition is free from spelling and grammatical errors, and conveys ideas in a clear and concise manner. The organization and structure of a composition is also important, most compositions being divided into suitable paragraphs that are organized in a systematic fashion in order to convey a theme or thesis. These main ideas are fleshed out with detailed arguments, supporting evidence and examples. In a professional environment, it is necessary to know how to select appropriate words, write well-structured sentences, use a variety of sentence structures and elaborate on a given topic logically. This course covers all aspects of written communication, particularly formal writing, which is an important part of the communication system in every organization.
A: Apply the principles of standard written English in writing
B: Demonstrate competency in using the process approach to writing
C: Examine example paragraphs and essays as well as drafts written by other students to distinguish specific modes and structures that are present.
I worked for four years at McDonald’s as an Assistant Manager. My job included training employees in all aspects of store operations. Conducting training sessions developed my confidence in organizing and leading trainees. I prepared charts and timetables for the training sessions. I had to assign duty hours to employees, taking into account vacation requests and other considerations; his helped me in developing time management skills for others. I also learned to manage my own time as I was also attending school, studying for long hours and working part-time in order to make some much-needed income. As I was not working just to pass time, I learned to work with a sense of responsibility. I was in charge of inventory and ordering, and learned to take stock of available resources and remember details. For the first time in my life, I became acquainted with bank procedures, as I used to count the registers and make bank deposits. This gave me an opportunity to acquire a basic knowledge about accounts. My responsibilities extended to meeting and exceeding expectations in services and cleaning. From an early age, I learned to work with a sense of responsibility, and I understood the importance of quality services to customers.
With the intention of getting a better salary, I applied in the cardholder’s department of HSBC Bank in Sioux Falls, SD, where I worked for the next four years. My chief responsibility was collecting past due fees of credit card holders. In the office, I attended and made calls, enhancing my conversational skills and mastering the art of controlling my tone while talking on the phone. I had to call the customers repeatedly and maintain patience. I found that I was very good at pursuing matters, performing follow–up calls and waiting until I succeeded in recovering the debts. Sometimes, I would also advise the cardholders to find other solutions for resolving their problems. I learned to negotiate payments, as well as the way one has to talk and behave when representing a company. While dealing with debtors, I had to abide by all FDCPA and SDCPA laws. I learned to negotiate within the legal framework. Of course, I had to follow the policies and procedures of the bank. Sometimes, I had to communicate through writing, selecting words carefully and demanding attention to legal procedures without sounding harsh. The reminders I sent had to be in written form; they had to be maintained as records. The main lesson I learned through the job in HSBC was how to represent an organization and talk on behalf of the organization for which I was working. For my efforts, I was awarded three paid vacations to Marco Island and nominated for the Legendary Performance Award over thirty different times.
The following two years, I worked as an Accounts Manager for Credit Watch Services Ltd. The nature of my work was quite similar to that of my previous job; but at a higher position. In this job too, I attended and made calls to debtors, helped them to solve problems with debts, negotiated payment arrangements, and more all according to the FDCPA and SDCPA laws. I was successful in recovering huge amounts due for long periods and winning appreciation for my hard work. I performed asset investigations and search trace of debtors. This was my only experience in research work. I had to collect information about debtors and prepare reports systematically. My investigative skills improved at this job, as I learned more about how to track down clues and put pieces together regarding disputes on accounts and claims. I was awarded Silver Honors six times at this company.
Currently, I work at Premier Bankcard, having worked there since 2004. In addition to the tasks that I handled in previous positions, with substantial experience at hand, I was able to give some valuable input on ways to improve the department, which I submitted in written form. I had to make proposals in a convincing manner so that my new ideas would be accepted. To that end, I learned to write persuasively. My hard work was appreciated by being awarded Collector of the Month, Top Portfolio Collector and Premier Performance awards, among others.
While I was working in different companies in a number of capacities, I continued to pursue my hobbies, including fishing, reading, running, basketball and wrestling. Fishing helps to develop patience and diligence, two qualities that are extremely essential in my job as a debt collector. Running and wrestling enabled me to maintain my health. Reading is not just for entertainment; it helps to widen the scope of one’s knowledge. Reading a variety of texts helps to acquaint the reader with text types and their formats, and also provides a foundation for the development of writing skill.
Statement of learning:
In the vast experience of my fourteen years as a debt collector, I have learned a number of lessons that are not only useful in my career, but also in my personal life. My intention is to continue to work in the field of loss prevention in banking. However, looking back on the past I realize that mere experience, no matter how enriching it may be, is not sufficient for making a successful career. Experience has served me well in the past; I lack the value added to my prospects by a professional Degree from a Regionally accredited college. I have already received an Associate of Christian Studies and a Bachelor of Church Ministry from the Sure Foundation Theological Institute, which is not a regionally accredited institute. When combined, my existing education and experience will not allow me to fulfill the potential I feel I have yet to reach. This fact has motivated me to seek a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College.
After Graduating from High School, our grandfather advised us not to get a college education until we were sure what major we should take. Since then, I have worked for the last fourteen years as a successful debt collector. While improving my income is not a primary motivator for seeking a degree in higher education, I am sure that it will help me to control my future and validate my working experiences.
A: Apply the principles of standard written English in writing
The written mode is different from the oral mode in that organization of thoughts and ideas is done much differently while speaking. While speaking, a speaker may forget some point and add it later when they remember. A speaker does not get an opportunity to correct what is said, to revise or to modify. The oral mode is much less formal than the written mode, whereas most published writing is fairly formal in nature. Formal documents are expected to be free of errors, as the nature of writing makes it possible to check, revise, correct and rewrite any number of times. Words can be chosen carefully, and spelling and grammar checks can ensure accurate and comprehensible writing. According to Tony Kennedy (2014), “ Many novice writers have trouble telling informal writing apart from formal writing. They resort to informal writing because it is easier and more familiar” (p. 1).
Standard writing implies following the rules of writing, such as the use of capital letters and punctuation marks. The written mode is an attempt to put on paper what could be said orally. Pauses, stress and intonation are typical characteristics of oral communication. Punctuation marks indicate short and long pauses. Oral communication also has the advantage of being supported by actions, gestures and other modes of non-verbal communication. Since these aspects cannot be represented on paper, the writer must make the best use of punctuation marks carefully. They have to serve the purpose of expressing tone and pauses, feelings and emotions: “ Students have to understand that grammar is important, that people may not understand what they write if their sentences are ungrammatical, if they misspell words or use incorrect punctuation” (Herraro, 2014).
Standard writing includes dividing the content into short and simple paragraphs. One paragraph should ideally discuss one topic, which is usually declared in the first sentence (called the topic sentence). The remaining sentences are meant to provide support to the topic sentence. A single sentence that deviates from the topic sentence affects the unity of a paragraph. Paragraphs must also be coherent; all the sentences must be connected through transitions and linking words. The central idea in the paragraph must also be developed gradually and logically.
Paragraphs are of different types depending on the purpose of the writing. Descriptive paragraphs describe places, objects or persons. Use of adjectives helps to give a clear and accurate picture of what is being described. At the same time, a writer must take care not to sound ‘ wordy’. Narrative paragraphs are useful for reporting, telling a story or describing events. The narration must proceed smoothly and must be easy to understand. It is necessary to use small and simple sentences. A paragraph of definition intends to clarify a concept. This is best achieved by adding suitable examples and illustrations. A paragraph of comparison and contrast points out the similarities and differences in two things. Exploratory paragraphs can be supported by explanations in simple words. The writer must be able to express himself in a convincing way in an argumentative paragraph. “ If you cannot persuade through your writing, then it does not matter how good our ideas are” (MacDougall & Nishino 2014, p. 1).
Writing must reflect organization of thoughts and ideas. A piece of writing has to be developed step-by-step. A smooth flow and transition of ideas from one paragraph to the next helps the reader to comprehend the meaning easily. It does not tax his brain; he should not be made to struggle with meaning. He may lose interest and stop reading half way. The ideas must be arranged logically and chronologically, and the writer must “ Narrow a subject by looking at its smaller parts, or by choosing a specific problem, time period or place to cover” (Whitaker, 2009). Sometimes, I had to find out the background of debtors by digging for further information and history. I needed the skill to concentrate on one aspect of a problem and follow it. This experience helped me in deciding the scope of subject matter while writing.
Planning, drafting and presenting content in a simple and systematic way was something that I learned when I worked in Mc Donald’s. I used to prepare the timetables and display them on the notice boards. I had to issue notices in the correct format using appropriate vocabulary. I had to be co-operative and strict at the same time, and convey information and instructions to the trainees in such a way that they had to take it seriously. This experience at McDonald’s also helped me to understand the importance of selecting the right mode of communication. Sometimes, a common notice put up on the notice board serves the purpose; sometimes, it is necessary to send a circular and get it signed from the employees. I also learned what details should be included in notices, memos and circulars.
B: Demonstrate competency in using the process approach to writing
“ Writing is a process which always requires some preparation, drafting and revising” (Brown & Hood, 2003).
Writing is a process which involves definite steps. Before one begins to write, it is necessary to plan and decide what content is to be included. The writer must identify which content is necessary and which is not; it is best to focus on the important points of an argument. The next step is to decide the form of the writing; the writer must consider the purpose of writing and how best to fulfill that purpose. It is also necessary at this point to decide where to start and how to start. The beginning must be striking so that the reader is motivated to continue to read. It must be able to hook the reader’s attention. For example, a descriptive paragraph can begin with an incident or a joke. The narrative paragraph can then begin at any point of the story. The narrative can begin with an incident in the present and the writer can relate the past in the form of a flashback. The story can also begin with some important event in the life of the character, like an award winning function, or some other day of significance in his life.
It is always advisable to prepare a rough draft. This helps the writer to stick to the path and prevents him from straying from the main goal of the work. While going through the rough draft, the writer can decide what can be eliminated and what needs to be added. The writer may also change the entire structure if he does not feel satisfied with it. A rough draft enables the writer to follow a definite direction of argument. This is the stage when the writer can decide what he will put in the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. Every good piece of writing must contain these three elements. They allow the writer to impose an overall structure to the content.
On the basis of the rough draft, the writer can compose his essay. Each point can be elaborated into a paragraph. The writer only has to follow the points one-by-one and supply details in each paragraph. After the essay is complete, it had to be revised. The writer can read in a detached way so that he will notice the defects and drawbacks. This is the greatest advantage of the written mode. It gives plenty of scope for revision. All important changes and modifications are carried out at this stage: “ Proofreading means checking your work for errors in spelling and style and checking that you have met the format requirements” (Trzeciak & Mackay 1994, p. 7). Revision is followed by editing. Even if you take utmost care, there are bound to be some mistakes n writing. After all, we are human beings. To err is human, goes the popular saying. “ When you edit, you proofread your essay and correct any errors in punctuation, spelling, grammar and mechanics” (Gaetz & Phadke 2006, p. 189). These are the typical human errors that one is likely to commit, often without knowing it. A slip of the hand, lack of concentration while writing or being carried away by the next idea while scribing the first one lead to such errors. When the editing is finished, the final copy is ready. Each step in the writing process is important; while I worked as a Portfolio representative, I applied myself to the task of sketching improvement plans for the department. I had to put it in the written form, and present it as a formal document. I had to follow all the steps in the process of writing so that I could produce an effective project for the company.
C: Examine example paragraphs and essays as well as drafts written by other students to distinguish specific modes and structure that are present
“ From the perspective of a presenter, it is powerful for us to research the topic and to reflect on what makes good writing” (Baron 2007, p. 15).
Writing essays, drafts and paragraphs of different types provides an opportunity for practice. A beginner often becomes apprehensive about his initial attempts. Knowledge about the correct procedures is not enough; it is necessary to view efforts in the light of other examples. Comparing and contrasting our performance with that of others enables us to understand our level and gives a picture of where we stand among others. We learn from peer review. A teacher’s training course does not merely require a student-teacher to conduct practice lessons. The course includes observation of lessons conducted by co-students. According to Malnarich, Pettitt and Mino (2014), the experience of working with others reveals the limits of our own experiences and knowledge and also provides insights into the art of writing. For observing the work of others it is necessary to develop critical and analytical skills. We must develop the skill of identifying mistakes and shortcomings. This kind of exercise allows us to view our own performance in a detached. Our strengths and weaknesses can be understood when we judge our work among several other performances of those who sail in the same boat: research indicates that “ students are capable of rating heir peers’ papers reliably and with the same accuracy as instructors” (Patchan, Charney & Schchun, 2014).
I had developed this habit of comparing my success or failure when I worked in HSBC Bank. There were other collection representatives like me, working for the bank and doing the same kind of work. We had divided the cases between us. The number of cases in which we could recover dues was the criteria for judging our performance. We also considered the time taken for recovering credit loans.
Here is an example of a paragraph written by a colleague. An analysis of the paragraph from the point of view of a reviewer will be worth the efforts in understanding the level of my own performance:
Related Learning Experience
In the pursuit for job experience, I opted to work as an Assistant Teacher in a private elementary school. The working experience in the school was exceptional and outstanding. The tasks I was assigned involved teaching independently in primary classes, organizing short visits and helping senior teachers to prepare teaching aids. This helped in boosting my confidence in handling a class independently, using resources to prepare teaching aids and exhibit my creative skills. I got an opportunity to communicate with park authorities, bank officials and other personnel who were in charge of places which we visited.
Throughout the working experience, I appreciated the nature of communication that took place at various levels in the school. Sometimes, I had to approach the principal or supervisors for permission to arrange visits. I had to communicate with colleagues and juniors. I had to communicate with the bus drivers and assistants, give them instructions and orders and assign them duties. Quite often they would come to me with complaints or grudges and I managed to handle them without trouble. I understood the various levels at which communication takes place in an organization, sometimes vertical sometimes horizontal and sometimes one-way. Interaction among teachers was free and unrestricted. It gave us an opportunity to discuss our problems and share out views and opinions.
Analysis: The paragraph begins by describing the kind of experience the job afforded. The first paragraph includes the details of the job. It gives us an idea of the nature of the work that the writer was required to do in his job. The second paragraph points out that the communication system in the school was new and enlightening experience for him. The writer has succeeded in describing his experiences in the new job in an effective way. He has effectively conveyed his feelings and realizations, his joy when he got an insight into the communication process and the satisfaction he derived from the experience.
Statement of purpose
I learned a lot from my life experiences to date, taking the good with the bad and learning what I can from each experience. The people who influenced me most are my nearest relatives. The kindness extended by my grandfather, the discipline and values he taught us, and his spirituality provided a stark contrast to a drug-addicted father and a physically and mentally abusive step-father. I felt a natural pull towards my mother; at the same time, her selfish behavior pulled me in the opposite direction; I was confused about my relationship with her until I grew up. I also learned a lot from my twin brother Abe, with whom I was able to share my experiences; he was always by my side and provided great support in my childhood.
A series of grueling experiences in life set it apart from the normal lives that my friends led. I do not regret this, because these experiences have enriched my life and brought me closer to God. When I had to work part time, study and make up for lost time, I developed a sense of determination. My success in my High School examination was a great achievement for me and boosted my confidence. I can call myself a knowledgeable person because I have read books on a variety of subjects like Psychology, Politics, Economics, Sociology and Human Sciences. The book that has influenced me most, the book that always gave me strength, is the Bible.
The lessons I learned in life have enabled me to form my own set of principles. All my experiences will assist me in completing these upcoming courses. “ Writing an extended text at an advanced level involves not just the writing systemIndeed, writers can put to use virtually everything they have learned and stored in long-term memory” (Kellogg R. D. 2002, p. 2). After fourteen years of work experience, I look back on my work life with satisfaction, but I perceive a lack of qualification which may hinder my future success. At this juncture, I realize the importance of a college degree from an accredited college. The Business Program course in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College will accelerate and enhance my personal and professional goals. Recognition of my business education from a reputable institution will send a strong positive message to my employer that my knowledge in the field is coupled with a degree. It will enable me to make valuable contribution in my field of expertise and will also prove to be beneficial for the organization for which I work.
I look forward to being given the chance to contribute to the academic culture of Excelsior College, and to benefit from its high-quality degree program.
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