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Wildcard (AKA: Goals Statement essay)

How to Avoid Becoming a Shady Hustler and Volcano Insurance Saleswoman

After four years of copying answers out of textbooks and mirroring the opinions of my instructors, I am in dire need of critical thinking skills. There have been very few times when I was given the opportunity to think critically on an assignment. Iíve been intellectually squashed by the constrains of standardized testing and forced into becoming a student who can no longer see, feel, and think for herself. Iíve been conditioned to read my teachers and give them what they want. In short, Iíve learned to sell myself. Critical thinking skills will help me with writing, language, reading, cultural studies, politics, media studies, and social issues so that I may develop a deeper understanding of life.

Critical thinkers are more succinct and can dissect literature and devour words as opposed to simply reading. They can develop more persuasive arguments and back them up with textual evidence. Theyíre more secure in their political opinions and can appreciate the beauty in other cultures. Theyíre also more outwardly focused, which enables them to think about more than their own narrow world-view. As a citizen I feel itís my duty to think critically, especially in our confusing time of violence and anger and untrustworthy leaders. A career in the field of journalism, or perhaps more specifically Ė a career as a book editor, travel columnist, informal essayist, or book reviewer, will surely benefit from an ability to think critically. After all, whatís writing without thought? One cannot be a good writer without first being a good thinker.

By thinking critically I will gain experience and develop a language of reading. I will master the codes and patterns of literature, which will allow me to be able to see all the angles when I read a story. Iíll be able to experiment with the points-of-view of every character, regardless of importance. How will I achieve all this? By trying my best not take what Iím presented with at face value, but to dive deeper. Also, by gaining self-confidence, learning from my professors, learning from my peers, working on the Setonian and Campus Life Resolution Board, and taking advantage of the excellent classes Seton Hill has to offer.

Getting over my insecurities might be a bit more complicated than my other techniques. I'm so paranoid about my writing. I feel pretentious even saying I want to be a writer. I don't want to label myself a writer until I am a writer. I don't think I will ever be good enough. There are just so many things I still need to learn. I think what I want is to one day wake up and go - bang - I'm brilliant and smart and I'm a writer!

Does that ever happen? Did Hemingway ever wrestle with insecurities (you know, the few times he was sober)? Did Poe ever leave off on cutting his wrists to evaluate whether or not his work was any good? Was Tolkien ever assured beyond a doubt that his trilogy would become one of the greatest series of all time? There's so many people I want to emulate - so many writers I look up to and feel absolutely hopeless in comparison. They've written the most amazing books ever.

One of the steps to improving my self-confidence will be achieved by proving to myself that I can do well on my assignments, despite not having come from a private school or have taken all, or any, AP classes. If I pass my classes, and especially if I pass them with a respectable score, Iím sure Iíll start feeling less anxious. Or perhaps I should just start every morning by listening to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" and strapping on a pair of psychological Doc Martins. Confidence is such an obscure goal and not something I can learn from a textbook or in a few monthsí time. I will have to learn to squash the nasty, little internal critic in my head that counters any praise I receive with a novel-sized list of all the things I canít do properly. I will refuse to accept the grading system as a measure of my self-worth. During these past twelve years I have entered into a self-destructive process that makes me willing to accept not my own, but an array of other standards, for measuring myself (naturally the educational system would fall apart if it did not bring about these feelings of inferiority and worthlessness).

The class discussions in Thinking/Writing will give me an excellent opportunity to interact and learn from my classmates. The blogging required by my journalism classes are an excellent opportunity to observe the conclusions of my peers, which enables me to take my own textual evaluations further. Representing my class on the Campus Life Resolution Board will also require me to think critically. When my peers are written up by residence life for any kind of offense and choose not to accept responsibility, I will help review the incident and make a ruling. It will reflect well on me when I am considered as a Resident Assistant in my junior or senior year. Working on the Setonian will help me utilize my critical thinking skills on current events. If working on the Setonian is an agreeable experience for me, I may continue to be involved every year. If I am permitted, I may even try the job of book reviewer.

The other classes that I hope to take during the next four years are sure to develop my critical thinking skills as well: The Writing of Fiction, The Writing of Poetry, Major Writers and Genres, Introduction to Poetry, Topics in Women in Literature, European Literature, Topics in World Literature, Advanced Study in Literature, Literary Criticism, Publication Workshop, Topics in Media Aesthetics, Topics in Media and Culture, and the American Literature classes. Theyíll teach me about voice and style in todayís writing and literature. They also promise a good deal of in-depth study, which is basically a synonym for critical thinking. I think those classes will help me develop a personal writing style as well as show me how to make it interesting. Theyíll give me the advantage of having an array of different professors. Iíll make use of this opportunity by participating and paying attention in class. I can ask them questions and bug them incessantly to make absolutely certain that I understand the material (this is especially crucial in my algebra course, which I consider to be an invention of Satan). By using the feedback I receive on my papers I can improve the mistakes I often obsess over. The graded papers can be used as a guide when I begin similar assignments.

At the moment, Iíll concentrate on the classes Iím currently taking. Thereís nothing wrong with gazing into the future, but at the moment, thereís more than enough of my plate. Iíd like nothing more than to proclaim that by 2009 I will have become a magnificent writer and savant litterateur and but who knows? I could end up being hit by a bus and spending the rest of my life in a full-body cast completely illiterate. When my four years at Seton Hill are complete, I hope to have mastered the written word and at the same time, learned to reject modern ideas about brevity of thought and language. I hope I learned how to let my words stretch and breathe and roll off the tongue and/or onto the page. I hope every word I write from that day forward will have meaning.

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This page contains a single entry by published on September 27, 2005 9:40 PM.

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