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More Sample Issue Essays


Issue Prompt 1:


“There is little need for books today because one can learn just as much or more from television.””


When I was little, I would line up my stuffed animals and ““read”” to them. Although I was not old enough to know the letters formed words and the words formed sentences, I knew there was a story to tell, and I knew there was an audience who would be interested in hearing the story.

Now I watch my two-year-old daughter do the same thing. In this media age, books often take a back seat to television, which is unfortunate because books offer so much more. Books are a better tool with which to build imagination. Moreover, readers can gain much more knowledge from the wide variety of books that are available.


Satellite dishes and improved cable offer hundreds of channels, a variety that some TV viewers argue is sufficient to replace reading. However, libraries and bookstores offer thousands, not hundreds, of titles from which to choose. Among these choices, a reader can find books on any theme he chooses, from topics of today to stories of every era in the past. Television, unfortunately, is controlled mostly by popular trends. Aside from a handful of specialty channels like The History Channel, there is little on TV about historical events. Furthermore, TV viewers’’ choices are limited since the television broadcasting companies choose what they will offer on each channel.


A limited choice of TV channels results in limited knowledge. The written word offers much more detail than television. Most TV shows are limited to two hours or less, and because of this time restriction, fewer details can be included in shows like movies and documentaries. For example, a TV documentary on orangutans would most likely be a one hour program which would offer some basic knowledge about orangutans, their habitat and their way of life. A book about orangutans, on the other hand, would educate the reader far beyond the basic knowledge he would gain from watching a television program.


In addition to offering more information on a greater number of subjects, the added description included in books helps readers improve vocabulary. In books, readers see unfamiliar words in context, enabling them to decipher the meaning. For TV viewers, unfamiliar words in conversation usually go unnoticed. In fact, many people watch TV simply to ““veg,”” or, in other words, to sit and do nothing but be vaguely aware of the images flickering across the screen. Watching television requires little of the concentration that is required for reading books; consequently the viewer overlooks many details.


Because watching TV does not require active participation, the imagination suffers. Television programs take the viewer quickly from one scene to the next, prohibiting the viewer from taking notice of the details of the setting. Books inspire imagination, allowing the reader to picture for herself the setting and characters of the story. A book’’s character may be described as tall, dark complected, and wearing a bright purple robe; it is up to the reader to imagine exactly what the character looks like. Is the character Italian or perhaps Native American? Is the bright purple robe rather gaudy looking, or does it give the character an air of sophistication? Television makes those decisions for the viewer by placing in the program a specific actor in garb chosen by costume designers, thus leaving little room for imagination.


Imagination is the key to forward thinking, thinking that brings a person success in what he does. Without imagination, problems go unsolved and new and inventive ideas never make it to the drawing board. Imagination produces creativity, which inspires dreamers. I hope my daughter will continue to be a dreamer, allowing her imagination to blossom. And when the letters, then words, then sentences take form for her, she will have the added benefit of gaining boundless knowledge from books.

Issue Prompt 2:

“Many of today’’s technological conveniences were developed to save time. Ironically,
these developments have created an even more hurried, fast-paced society,
where people actually have less leisure time.”


Ah, the good ol’’ days! When people sat on their front porch talking and watching the world go by instead of finishing up last-minute work on their laptops. When letters took a week to spread the latest news instead of a few seconds through e-mail. In a world of pagers, faxes, cell phones, and computers, a very hurried society is characterized by impatient workaholics whose nerves are on edge and whose lives are unknowingly empty.


Many of today’’s conveniences were developed to meet growing impatience with the speed it took to spread information. Through the development of such things as faxes, cell phones and e-mail, however, a new impatience was born. This new impatience is characterized by frustration with the sophistication and complexity of modern technology. Office workers grit their teeth in frustration when an e-mail takes too long to download. In annoyance, they may shut down their computer assuming there is something wrong with the machine. This wastes even more time while restarting the computer and finally retrieving the culprit e-mail. Overnight delivery services emerged to meet this all-consuming impatience as well. Oftentimes, however, even this speedy service is not expedient enough. Some find it necessary to rush a package to the airport so that it may arrive at its destination just a few hours earlier.

This annoyance with our more efficient world has thrown society into a frenzy where even the most technologically advanced equipment
is unsatisfactorily slow. The resulting annoyance and impatience can turn into rage in the office and on the highway, with stressed out employees who ““go postal,”” losing all rationale and even causing injury to colleagues. Preventable injuries occur on highways as road rage consumes drivers who are eager to get to their next destination.


In a world where people are eager to pass information ever more quickly and get to their next destination ever more quickly, this has truly become a society of workaholics. Because the transfer of information is so much more efficient with modern technologies, workers find they can accomplish much more in a given day. Driven by this fact, they work more hours. There is always time to make that last call or send a quick e-mail at the end of the day. And portable conveniences like laptops and palm pilots make it possible for people to work essentially anywhere; work is no longer confined to the office and is often completed at home.


Perhaps the most detrimental aspect of our more hurried society lies at home. Because many people spend more time working, and because work is transportable, many spouses discover that their partners spend more time with their computers and cell phones than with their family. Additionally, other conveniences like microwave meals encourage quick meals on-the-go. Rushed families rarely spend quality time together around the dinner table. Rather, they all go their separate ways to eat in front of the TV, at the computer, or at a desk reviewing reports.


At home, in the office and on the streets, a fast-paced society continues to become more hurried as technology continues to match a perpetually growing impatience. Is all of this annoyance, frustration, and rage worth the added convenience that technology has brought to our society? It hardly seems so. In fact, in looking back at the good ‘‘ol days, it seems that in a world with far less vexation and anger, there was more happiness.

Issue Prompt 3:

““Character is created in a crisis.””


In 1992, Hurricane Andrew slammed into Florida causing millions of dollars of damage. Many residents lost everything, including their homes. Those houses that had the strongest foundations withstood the storm most favorably. Additionally, the homes that had been adequately prepared to face the storm fared better than those whose windows were not boarded. Character is like a house. If your character has a strong foundation and displays traits of preparedness, you can weather a storm well. In this light, it is clear that character is not born from crisis, but rather, it merely emerges during difficult times.


It is not adversity but the small moments of life that create character. Poor decisions, regardless of how insignificant, break down your character. Anytime you are inconsistent in following your principles, no matter how small the compromise, cracks in your foundation undoubtedly weaken your character. On the positive side, though, you can learn a lot from your mistakes. In fact, lessons learned from failures are indispensable in building character. To discern the lesson to be learned, however, takes conscious effort. If you are unwilling to put effort into developing character, you will continue to repeat your mistakes, and your life will stagnate.


Part of building character and thus avoiding stagnation is building on your strengths. Taking what is good and making it exceptional is what character building is all about. Continued improvement in life makes you stronger. This too takes a conscious effort in using strengths to positively affect others around you. Channeling the positive to help others results in personal growth, which in turn builds character.


Only when you are willing to learn from your mistakes and make a conscious effort to grow can you face a crisis successfully. It is during this adversity that character comes to light. If you have learned from past failures, you will have the strength to face a crisis head on. You will have adequate problem-solving skills to overcome obstacles set before you. If you have made the conscious effort to build on your positive traits, you will have the means with which to get through the crisis positively with the will to move ahead.


The will and ability to move forward from crisis is the defining moment of your character. As you move forward, though, you should never stop working to improve, because the stronger your foundation is, the better it will weather any type of storm. What kind of storm can the foundation of your character withstand?

Issue Prompt 4:

““People should pursue careers that provide financial security even if they do not enjoy
the work


““I want to be a fireman when I grow up!”” A simple dream from a young child in response to the question every youngster faces at one point or another: What do you want to be when you grow up? The innocence of a child, however, protects him from the world of finances; something everyone is forced to face later on in life. And when that realization hits, what path is best for a person to take: the path that leads to a career with large financial promises, or the one that leads to a career that provides more personal satisfaction? Because contentment has so many rewards, it is better for a person to choose the job that will provide happiness even if it does not pay as well as other jobs.


Some people find it necessary to get the best paying job to make financial ends meet. Often someone in financial dire straits will stick with a good paying job just long enough to get ahead and then, because they are unhappy at the job, they quit to find work elsewhere. This has several negative effects. First, the transition to a new job is difficult, and it can be made worse for a new employee if they are followed by negativity. Company officers are reluctant to invest training time and money in employees only to have them leave after a short time and therefore may not be willing to provide favorable references. Second, workers who leave jobs after short periods of time are not with a company long enough to advance within the company. These workers may find that they would have done just as well to begin in a job that they like even if it did not pay as well, because by the time they start all over, they could have already been promoted. The increase in salary that comes with most promotions could equal the wages they were earning at the job they did not enjoy.


The potential for promotion should be a major consideration when deciding between the high paying job and the job that provides satisfaction. Employees in positions they do not enjoy often work with a poor attitude. This promotes laziness and apathy. Managers quickly pick up on this and likely pass up thesetypes of employees for promotions. On the other hand, workers who enjoy their job greet each workday with enthusiasm, fresh creativity and perseverance. Bosses commend this type of work ethic and reward such employees with promotions.


Careers that offer promotions and, most importantly, job satisfaction stimulate self-respect and pride. These characteristics are priceless and have an enormously positive impact on a person and their job performance. The employee who has pride in what he does takes ownership. He is empowered to take charge of the position he holds and give it 110 percent. This attitude has a domino effect and soon colleagues begin to take more pride in their work as well. Managers notice this natural leadership and reward it with promotions.


Taking pride in a job leads to success, not just monetarily, but also personally. Personal success and satisfaction far outweigh monetary gain. So if the little boy still wants to be a fireman when he grows up, he should be a fireman, even if it means he will live in a modest home instead of a mansion. He will never regret the happiness and contentment he will feel by following his dream instead of following the green.

Issue Prompt 5:

““The idea that individuals should focus on personal self-improvement assumes that there
is something inherently wrong with people.


A best-selling book offers ““Seven Ways to Become a Better Person.”” A radio ad promises you will feel great in 30 days or less just by taking some pills. ““If you buy our exercise equipment,”” a TV ad guarantees, ““you’’ll have the body you’’ve always wanted.”” And don’’t miss that talk show today because the guest speaker will teach you how to have confidence. In today’’s society, we are continually bombarded with the latest techniques of how to better ourselves, a focus which some feel is unhealthy. On the contrary, a focus on self-improvement is very important in helping people grow in character.


Although some may believe that focusing on the need for self-improvement assumes that there is something inherently wrong with people, this focus maintains quite the opposite. In fact, self-improvement helps build character. Building character involves taking a person’’s strengths and building on them. Such strengths as unselfishness can be developed into a lifelong habit of generosity, a positive spirit into an unfailing compassion for others. Everyone has strength in character and the ability to build on these strengths through self-improvement.


Everyone also has weaknesses. Weaknesses are not flaws, but rather negative traits that, through selfimprovement, can be developed into more positive traits. For example, impatience can be turned into determination to accomplish goals. Strong will can be turned into perseverance. If a person can just find a way to capitalize on a weakness, it can be turned into a strength. Self-improvement is the best way to do this.


Recent focus on self-improvement is valuable because of the wealth of resources such a focus offers. There is a plethora of different ways a person can work on self-improvement. Groups offer support for improvement, and individual strategies are available in many different forms. Books and videos offer plans for developing a positive attitude. Gyms and health stores offer ways to build self-esteem by building better health.


No matter the method a person chooses for self-improvement, every individual has room to improve. Even when a person reaches a specific goal of improvement, there are still ways to build on character and become a person with more positive traits. Those who grow in character, grow in self-esteem, which then breeds confidence. Confidence and a feeling of self-worth give people the power to positively influence those around them. Positive influences are invaluable in our society, so we should never stop making an effort to improve ourselves.

Issue Prompt 6:

Public figures should expect their private lives to be scrutinized.


Television shows, newspapers, books, magazines and tabloids delve into the lives of singers, actors, athletes and politicians on a daily basis. Should these public figures expect to lose some of their privacy? Whether they want to or not, people who are in positions that will sometimes place them in the spotlight open themselves to scrutiny from their audience, because people have a natural curiosity and interest in those who have achieved fame.


Although public figures should expect some scrutiny in their lives, there is a point where it can become dangerous. For example, it was reported in 1997 that the driver of Princess Diana’’s car was driving recklessly to get away from aggressive Paparazzi. As a result, the car spun out of control killing Diana. Other similar stories report stalkers and ““Peeping Toms”” who take too much liberty in examining the private lives of stars, athletes and politicians. While these are extreme cases of obsession, public figures must realize that there is a natural human desire to more intimately know the familiar faces on TV or on the sports field. This is especially true of actors and actresses. Television and movie viewers get to know their favorite characters on screen and therefore have a desire to ““get to know”” the actors behind these characters.


Not only do people want to get to know those whom they look up to, but they also strive to be like their favorite stars. Ads on TV encourage viewers to ““Be like Mike [Michael Jordan].”” On Halloween, teenage girls can emulate their favorite pop singer by obtaining a Britney Spears costume. Although many people admittedly would not choose a life of glamour and fame, there is something alluring about the lifestyle, and therefore admirers of people in the limelight are driven to discover personal facts about those whom they admire. Knowing these intimate details makes a famous person seem more down-to-earth and thus allows the ordinary person to feel like they have something in common with the rich and famous.


The media makes a concerted effort to give viewers a chance to become acquainted with public figures. They splash familiar stars’’ faces on the cover of magazines. Channels like E! and VH1 feature behind the scenes stories about singers and actors, their highs and lows and how they became famous. Tabloids are a huge business supported by readers who hungrily devour the latest gossip about their favorite star. Even the news capitalizes on human interest stories that feature public figures. For example, although long and drawn-out, OJ Simpson’’s murder trial dominated the news, yet no one seemed to complain.


The news often highlights human interest stories that uncover the blunders of politicians. Former President Clinton’’s escapades with Monica Lewinsky, for example, made headlines for months. Many public figures, especially politicians, anticipate the scrutinizing eye under which they will find themselves and proactively confess to past mistakes. This takes some of the media pressure off them. Sadly, others find themselves on the front cover of every magazine and newspaper and in every headline when marital infidelity or an encounter with drugs is exposed.


Politicians are of deep interest to the public because they are the nation’’s leaders. Since people must place some trust in political figures to run the country effectively, politicians should expect their private lives to be examined. Not only should they expect ordinary citizens to dig into their lives, but they should also anticipate other political figures to look closely at their lives. Political campaigns, unfortunately, often focus on tearing apart the opponent. To do this, a politician must find a way to attack his opponent, which requires investigating the personal life of the candidate. This comes with the territory. If a would-be politician cannot stomach having some negative aspect of his life exposed, he should not enter the world of politics.


Although many people work hard to achieve the fame of a popular singer, actor, athlete, or politician, some become bitterly disenchanted with the lifestyle when they realize they may lose much of their privacy. This should certainly be a matter of consideration before pursuing any career that places a person in the spotlight. It is, after all, natural that admirers will be interested in the details of the life of public figures. Public figures should consider this admiration flattery rather than an intrusion on their privacy.

Issue Prompt 7:

““It is necessary for a leader to compromise his principles if compromising them is
favorable to a greater number of people.


This nation has seen many outstanding leaders, like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Have you ever wondered what separates great leaders from ineffective leaders? Contrary to popular belief, great leaders are not born. Rather, if you want to be an effective leader, you must realize that it takes a lot of work and perseverance. Furthermore, of all the character traits that can be cultivated to make a good leader, the ability to stick to your principles is the most important; to be a great leader, you should never compromise your principles, no matter how high the price.


As a leader, you may sometimes pay a price by losing favor with the majority because of a decision you have made. At these times, it may be tempting for you to give in to the demands of your followers.


However, remember that, regardless of the capacity in which you lead, you are in a position of leadership because there are people who thought your ideas were good, and therefore they made a conscious decision to follow you. Knowing this, you should be encouraged to stick to your decisions since, in the end, even if your followers still disagree with your decision, they will respect you for standing firm on your principles. If you possess honor in your word, your followers will entrust you with more responsibility knowing that, since you did not compromise your beliefs in one decision, you are not likely to go back on your word in other situations.


As followers take note that you refuse to give in by compromising your principles, they will come to the realization that they made an excellent choice in a leader, and they will gain a deeper respect for you as their leader. As people gain new respect for you, they will be more willing to follow you in all of your decisions, even if they do not fully agree with all of them. This type of respect is important for your leadership because it creates an atmosphere conducive to cooperation and teamwork. In this cooperative environment, your followers will be willing to step up and take on some of the responsibility if they believe in you and what you stand for.


With you as their guide, your team’’s confidence will grow. As their confidence grows, your self-confidence will flourish. A confident leader is much more effective than one who is unsure of himself. If you do not portray confidence in what you do, others will not feel confident in your decisions either. Moreover, if you lack confidence in your ability as a leader, you will likely at some point give in to others’’ wishes over your own principles. Your followers will perceive you as weak and will recede from your leadership. If you believe in yourself, however, you will benefit from lifelong supporters who respect your confidence and the consistency of your principles.


Unwillingness to compromise principles breeds the stalwart leader within you. Becoming an effective leader requires this confidence in the actions that you take and the decisions that you make. The respect you will earn by standing firm in what you believe will take your leadership farther than you ever thought possible.

Issue Prompt 8:

““Parents must be involved in their children’’s education in order to make them successful.””


Sally is a Sophomore in high school. Although she is a bright girl and has the potential to excel in school, she lacks the ability to apply herself and therefore is not doing well. As a result, she does not enjoy school and often cuts classes to hang out at the mall with friends who share her same ethic. Sally enjoys athletics and earned a spot on the Girls’’ Softball team. She competed in six matches, but when progress reports were issued, she was forced to leave the team because her grades were not up to par. Sally’’s father is a lawyer and often works so late, the family rarely sees him. Sally’’s mother works in an office, but after work, she enjoys going out with her colleagues. Often, Sally is on her own when she gets home and must prepare dinner for herself and her 12-year-old sister. Sally’’s parents have missed countless parent-teacher conferences and have yet to meet most of her teachers. They are aware of only one instance of Sally’’s truancy; usually she gets home in time to erase the school’’s message from the answering machine. When her parents heard about her ““first”” unexcused absence from school, they did nothing but tell her not to do it again.


Tommy is also a Sophomore. He is intelligent and works hard to obtain near-perfect grades. He enjoys school and enthusiastically participates in all of his classes. Tommy is the goalie on the Boys’’ Soccer team and can be depended upon to maintain his important position on the team. Tommy’’s parents are divorced, and Tommy and his twin 10-year-old brothers live with their mother. She works in an office and gets home promptly by 5:30. Although she must rely on Tommy to watch the twins after school, she always prepares dinner when she gets home. After dinner, Tommy and his brothers must finish their homework before they are permitted to do anything else. Tommy’’s mom checks everyone’’s homework when they are done and helps them with work they do not understand. Although Tommy’’s father lives an hour away, he often meets Tommy’’s mother for parent-teacher conferences, and he consistently makes it to Tommy’’s games. Tommy has never considered skipping school because he knows the consequences at home would be great.


Two students, two very different results at school and two opposite attitudes about life. The difference? Parental involvement. Although teachers can equip a student with the tools he needs to succeed in life, it is up to parents to instill in their children the motivation and determination to use these tools to be successful. To do this, parents must be willing to be involved in every aspect of their children’’s lives, particularly intheir education. It is unfair for parents to expect teachers and school administrators to take sole responsibility for the complete education and training that prepares a student for his adult life.


Some parents feel inadequate to help their children in school because they are unfamiliar with their children’’s school subjects, or because they did not do well in school themselves. No matter how little academic knowledge parents have, however, they can play an integral part in her child’’s education. For example, there are many opportunities to volunteer in schools. Parents can become a part of the school’’s Parent-Teacher Association or Parent-Teacher-Student Organization. Parents can help with sports’’ teams or at the very least, make an effort to support the athletes by coming to the games. If parents’’ jobs hinder them from attending school functions, they can play an important role at home by keeping their children accountable in school matters like homework. They can help their children with things the children do not understand or get a tutor if they do not understand it either.


Although parents cannot always help a child scholastically, they can teach their children lifelong lessons in motivation and determination. If a man wants to learn how to fish, he can obtain a net and a boat and learn how to cast the net. But he is not a fisherman simply because he has the right tools and knowledge. Someone must instill in him the motivation and determination to sit on a boat day after day performing the tedious task of casting a net that does not always produce a big catch. In the same way, a teacher can give their students the book knowledge they need to be experts in various fields; however, it is the parents who must empower their children to use the knowledge to be successful. This requires parents to teach their children the value of education and thus inspire motivation; parents must teach their children never to give up and thus inspire determination.


Only motivated learners have the determination to gain the knowledge and responsibility that will enable them to succeed in life. It is the responsibility of parents to instill in their children these qualities. One of the most effective ways parents can teach their children the importance of such qualities is by modeling them in their own lives. Parents should make an effort to model responsibility through motivation and determination in their own lives. Such examples provide the best lessons a student will ever learn.


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