Below we offer an example of a thoughtful reflective essay that effectively and substantively captures the author's growth over time at CSUCI. We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.
Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CSUCI Code of Conduct.
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Sample Reflective Essay #1
Author: Prefers to remain anonymous
As an English major I have learned to appreciate the peaceful, yet exhilarating moment when my mind engages with an author's thoughts on a page. As Toni Morrison says in The Dancing Mind , "[reading is] to experience one's own mind dancing with another's." In my early days as a college student, I wanted to know the "true" meaning of a work or what the author intended, however, I have now realized this would void literature of its most noteworthy complexities. Individual interpretations bring varied insights to a work and it is also interesting to point out messages the author may not have realized s/he included in the piece.
I have always been a thinker, but throughout my coursework, I have greatly sharpened my critical analysis skills. Instead of focusing on proposed meanings or biographical background, I have learned to continuously ask "why" on many different levels. I challenge myself to dig into a text as deeply as possible and unpack every detail to develop a satisfying close read. Also, by reading multiple novels by the same author I have learned to identify different writing styles and make connections that weave texts together; this helped me develop a deeper understanding of the novels. When I look at one of my freshman level novels and see clean pages, I realize that I did not actively read the book. I guess you could say that I have learned to read with a pen, which has drastically taken my writing to a new level because I am able to connect back with my initial insights marked on the page.
Writing had always been one of my strengths, but it was challenging to take that initial step past the high school, five-paragraph essay form that constricted my ideas for so long. Moving past this form, however, has greatly opened my mind. My thoughts are now able to be more complex because I have learned how to sustain a logical argument in an organized manner. My writing has become increasingly more concise and I no longer have room for added "fluff" or "padding." Another improvement is my ability to point out multiple complexities within a text, instead of sticking to one-sided arguments in my papers. Furthermore, learning how to find peer reviewed journal articles and order books through interlibrary loan has significantly widened the scope of my research, which has lead to more scholarly papers with credible references. My writing is so much more interesting than it used to be.
It is difficult to identify gaps in my knowledge as an English major, only because I feel like I have learned so much. I feel that I have largely expanded my literary analysis and writing skills, but I need to be prepared to teach high school students their required literature. I think it would be useful to identify commonly taught novels in our local high schools and study them myself. By studying the required literature and thinking about how to teach it, I will have a sturdy foundation to work from once I am in the classroom.
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Careers in English and Writing
The English program at California State University Channel Islands prepares students for a wide range of exciting and rewarding careers, including:
- English teacher
- Social media strategist
- Media production (film, TV, internet)
- Print and digital publishing
- Corporate communications
- Foreign service
- Human resources
- Foundations/non-profit management
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It may be hard to write a type of essay for the first time. If this is your first time to write a personal reflective essay, you can refer to the reflection essay example below.
I Survived a Writing Class
Writing is one of the things I used to hate the most. I hate it when teachers would ask us to pass an essay. I hate it when I have to compete in writing contests because teachers asked me to. Nevertheless, winning in those contests boosted my self confidence. I thought I hate writing but I am good at it so I started to like it a bit. Things changed when I had two writing classes in college. I realized I was not good in writing.
The first writing class I had to attend in college was all about writing different types of essay. The teacher would group us into four or five. We would read each other’s essay and give comments afterwards. I was confident with my first essay but the people in my group are great critics. My confidence started to melt like an ice cream in a summer day. However, the grades given by our teacher for those essays saved some of the ice cream. I, nonetheless, enjoyed most days in that writing class except the part where I have to sit with the group. I realized that I, including my confidence, should not be affected by criticisms especially not by comments from fellow students who were there to learn just like me.
I passed the first writing class so I am confident for the second. The papers are a lot harder to write. We had to write four papers within the semester and a final paper before it ends. I am excited, curious and nervous at the same time when it is time to check the grades but those feelings would be quickly altered by disappointment. I got failing grades on all four papers but I thought this should not affect my confidence. Before writing the final paper, I went through all those four papers and looked where I went wrong. Keeping the corrections and comments in mind, I wrote the final paper and I was very happy when I received a passing grade.
From these writing classes, I realized that how we love or hate writing does not determine our skills. There is always a room for improvement if we are bad at something. We would receive negative feedbacks and failing grades sometimes but we would also receive passing grades or medals other times. What is important is we keep on learning and improving.
This is a very short sample of a reflection essay and you might have to write something longer. Nonetheless, this reflection essay example shows what you have to include in your essay namely introduction with thesis statement, body that can be a description or narration, and a conclusion with your realization, insight or judgment.