Learning Essay  

Before I took this course, I would always structure my essays on the classic 5-paragraph system with an introduction, some body paragraphs, and a conclusion summarizing everything in the essay. It was the style my teachers had programmed me to use, and I was positive I had mastered it. When I discovered that hypertexts do not involve this style I was comfortable with, I was terrified. And the fact that we were discouraged from using outlines--an essay-essential for me--freaked me out even more. So then how were we supposed to organize our sites and such? I found, though, that hypertexts are similar to a map, with parts connecting to other parts, which lead to more parts, and so on. I actually had a lot of fun trying to form this network in my sites, finding new ways to link subjects together.

In high school, I considered myself to be the ultimate procrastinator. I would always start English papers the night before they were due, which gave me practically no time to revise them. Of course, I realize that this is not an appropriate habit to continue, especially for real research projects like the ones in this class. I had to adopt a new process of doing the project over a period of days, starting with the writing and then revising it multiple times. I would usually revise it once I had written it all and then after I had uploaded it all to my site. After composing a linear essay based on my hypertext, I would then revise my pages again to make them flow better. Although I thought the printable version would be a pain to compose, I found that it was actually quite helpful because it forced me to look over my work again and find ways to fuse it together to make a coherent piece.

This course has also challenged me to learn how to use critical thinking when composing my projects. When writing for my hypertexts, I consider all of the parties involved in an issue and I try to write as open-mindedly as possible. Everyone has an equal say on the issue, which is why I aim to accurately show their views. I try to be aware of how I portray my own views and biases, and I don't allow my views to completely affect my writing. In order to become knowledgeable on a specific issue, this course has shown me that research is an important step in attaining this knowledge. I can rely on a variety of forms to obtain this information, including resources I never would have considered before, such as blogs and videos. However, the most important sources I should use are scholarly sources. It isn’t always easy to find them right away, which is why I’ve learned to try different means to pinpoint the information that I need. For instance, when researching for my low wage project, I had difficulty locating specific information on housecleaners, so I used a lot of data on domestics and service workers in general, which can definitely apply to housecleaners as well. After reviewing the literature and understanding the conversation, I can then try to fuse the information I've gathered. I can look for patterns and make logical hypotheses on the issue, maybe even proposing new ideas. I'm still working on developing this process of cohering research together to form my own original research. I know that this process will be incredibly fundamental in my future projects and courses in college and even after college, and I consider myself to be very fortunate that I can get head start on using this procedure of research.

My final project on low wage workers has 14 pages and averages about two internal links per page. It has two navigation bars: one with six links and one with 5. This hypertext includes 2616 words of my own writing, a 2524-word printable essay, an annotated bibliography with 8 sources (2 online and 6 library-based).

In Tamara Draut’s book Strapped, she presents the fact that my generation has it rough. Even though there is a huge percentage of high school graduates who can make it college, they cannot pay for it financially. Because of this, they cannot obtain a suitable education to then achieve a supporting job. As Draut says, “Compared to older workers, young adults are more likely to be unemployed, hold part-time jobs, or work as temps.” (Draut, 10). It is a very sad reality, especially since it completely contradicts the so-called “American dream.” The U.S. is well-known for its promise that it provides opportunity for all and that everyone can achieve their dreams, but this is obviously not the case. Just as low-wage workers can hardly advance or escape poverty, very few in my generation will be able to reach their dreams of college or future occupations without being drowned in debts, not being able to advance themselves without paying it off.