Essay One: Argument from Personal Experience

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  • Create an outline for an argument using a thesis statement that takes a stand and topic sentences that state reasons to support the thesis.
  • Take a stand on an issue using common knowledge and your own experience and/or observations as evidence.
  • Structure and develop an essay as an argument.

The task

Write an argumentative essay about a debatable topic that you know something about from your own experience as a student. Do not choose a topic about which you have an opinion but no concrete evidence.  Some possible topics:

  • Should students go to college right after high school, or should they wait? Why?
  • Should high school students work part-time? Why or why not?
  • Should high schools require students to take physical education classes? Why or why not?
  • Should high school students be required to wear uniforms? Why or why not?
  • Should the primary mission of colleges and universities be to prepare students for the workforce? Why or why not?
  • Should college students be required to perform community service as a requirement for graduation? Why or why not?


The section “The Elements of Argument” on pages 20-23 in Practical Argument  provides useful suggestions for planning and drafting your essay.

Observe the following guidelines for this paper:

  • The essay must have a title.
  • The essay must be structured as an argument.
  • Keep your audience in mind. What does the reader need to know?
  • Your paper must have a thesis statement that takes a clear stand on the issue.
  • Your body paragraphs must have topic sentences that state your reasons.
  • Your paper must be developed and organized to support your thesis.
  • Your argument needs to be supported by appropriate evidence gathered from your own experience, from conversations with other people, from observation, and from common knowledge. Do not do any Internet or book research for this assignment.
  • Use a variety of rhetorical strategies as appropriate (narration, description, process, examples, definition, classification, comparison and contrast, analogy, cause-and-effect analysis).
  • Use a level of formality appropriate for your purpose, and use a reasonable tone.
  • Your final draft should consist of at least 600 words and 5-6 paragraphs
  • Your final draft should be carefully edited to correct errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage.
  • Use standard academic formatting for your final draft. See the example on pages 597-98 in Rules for Writers.   
  • Post the rough and final drafts in Canvas. Post each paper twice: first as an assignment and then through VeriCite. The links are in modules in Canvas.
  • Each time you save your paper, name the file with your first name, your last name, the assignment name, and indicate what draft it is. For example, Your Name; Essay One; Final Draft.

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