Here are some examples of past timed-writing prompts. Notice how they are organized and written. Topics typically deal with current-event issues or concepts of interest to college students in school and the community. When you see this semester’s prompts, take the time to decide which one you feel most confident and comfortable with.
1. In our society, it has always been understood that the parent’s job is to teach a child right from wrong. Doing this successfully requires discipline, which in the past has included physical discipline (spanking, for instance) as well as verbal discipline. Today, however, many people believe that physical punishment should be legally and socially unacceptable.
Should parents have the right to discipline their child in a manner they feel suitable, or are some disciplinary measures inappropriate?
2. School extracurricular activities take place outside the traditional classroom setting and range from athletics and student government to clubs and social activities. In both high school and college, students are always encouraged to get involved in extracurricular activities.
What are some of the benefits of involvement in extracurricular activities?
3. Cell phones are a part of American culture. However, since no rules seem to cover the etiquette of using cell phones, some people find their use inappropriate. For example, a recent survey asked people when they felt the use of cell phones was appropriate. Results showed that fifty-three percent thought cell phone use was acceptable in the supermarket while six percent thought it was all right to use cell phones in a movie theater.
If you were put in charge of writing guidelines for using cell phones, what would you include and why?
4. Americans are bombarded by advertising. No matter where we go or what we do, it seems that advertising follows us. It’s on TV, over the Internet and in the paper. It’s on billboards and the sides of buses and even pasted on walls of empty buildings. Each day we are probably exposed to a thousand ads.
What kind of influence has advertising had on your life? Is it something that promotes you to buy products or turns you away from products?
5. Plagiarism is on the rise in America among high-school and college students as well as scholars and professionals. It seems that stealing someone else’s ideas is the “easy way out” for many.
Why is there such an increase in plagiarism, especially among students?
1. Body piercing is a booming but largely unregulated business. Because of the dangers associated with piercing, ranging from life-threatening infections to damage to tooth enamel, some states are considering enacting laws requiring parental permission for anyone under 18 to have piercing done.
Would you agree that such laws would be a good idea, or would you oppose them? Why?
2. Clinton Community College received a visit this semester from the Middle States Accreditation Team, which looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the college community.
What recommendations would you make to most effectively improve CCC? Why would these recommendations be important to the future of the college?
3. Vending machines have become a principal source of extra money for school districts across the nation. However, with obesity and poor eating habits on the rise among the nation’s elementary, middle and high-school students, the presence of these machines is being questioned.
What do you think? Should vending machines offering the usual candy, chips and soda be allowed in schools? Why or why not?
4. This year’s Academy Award for Best Picture went to A Beautiful Mind. However, there was some controversy surrounding the decision based on the fact that the movie did not accurately portray the life of the person it was based on.
Should movies based on actual events or real people be factually accurate, or does Hollywood have the right to “fiddle” with the facts to make the stories more interesting for the audience?
5. With a recent earthquake causing considerable amounts of damage across the North Country, we were again reminded of the potential strength and fury of “Mother Nature.”
Describe a time you were faced with nature’s power and explain what you learned from that experience.
1. Stress often seems to be a way of life for students: trying to keep up with homework, studying for midterms, getting started on that research project due in a week. Handling the stress can sometimes be just as important as doing the work.
What are some positive strategies you have for handling the pressures of being a student?
2. Currently under New York State law, a sixteen-year-old licensed driver is not allowed to drive after 9 p.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian who has a valid driver’s license.
Do you support this law, or do you feel it’s out of date and should be repealed, giving all drivers the same privileges? Why?
3. Life is full or opportunities. Some people take advantage of them and some people miss out on them.
Describe an opportunity that you took advantage of in your life or one that you missed out on. How did it affect you? How might it have changed your life?
4. Music has an impact on just about everybody. It has the power to soothe and to remove pain and stress from our lives. It also has the power to remind us of past events, both good and bad.
How does music affect your daily life?
5. Following the materialistic and hectic 1980s and 1990s, there has been a recent trend to simplify our lives. Magazines, writers and lecturers offer advice for stripping away the extraneous and living better with less.
What suggestions would you offer to someone who would want to simplify his or her life?