Sample Advanced Essays
Here are a few essays chosen from the thousands published on the web. They were originally written by American high school students, but they have been edited to shorten them and improve them slightly. The idea is that they are good enough to stand as models of the kind of academic essay writing that is appropriate for both the Michigan ECPE exam and other proficiency-level EFL,ESL English language exams.
Combating the Cult of Thinness
Why would a frightening percentage of American women gladly trade five years off their lives for 10 pounds off their bodies, or prefer to be perceived as thin rather than as kind or intelligent? This obsession with thinness needs to be understood if we are to avoid the consequences, which are often tragic. Beyond this, there are further steps that ought to be taken so that women can have a healthier and more positive sense of themselves.
It is no wonder that American women are obsessed with thinness. From a very young age, it is emphasized to women how important it is to be pretty, and to be pretty by societyâ€™s standards means being thin. This blatant message is seen everywhere. Not only do images in magazimes, TV commercials and billboard posters put an exaggerated emphasis on women's bodies, they also hold up an ideal of thinness that is almost impossible to attain. Computer-enhanced photography employs techniques such as airbrushing blemishes and slenderizing the bodies of models. This adds to the creation of an ideal model that women strive to mimic.
American societyâ€™s prescription of what it means to be feminine needs a rewrite. Current definitions of femininity are dictated by a social system that gains control over women by defining them primarily in terms of their bodies. In order to see change, women must challenge the industries that feed upon body insecurity. They need to change the messages that women absorb daily. One method would be to stop purchasing the very fashion magazines that have been allowed to define femininity. Large-scale boycotts of these fashion magazines can lead to major change of the feminine ideal.
Another method that can be used to alleviate the emphasis placed on the ideal figure is through education. Women need to realize that the images seen in advertisements and on television sitcoms are not the norm. The average American woman is 5â€™4â€, a size 12, and 155 pounds. Women with these proportions hardly ever appear in clothing or cosmetic advertisements. Education is needed to stress the new message that women of all shapes and sizes can be beautiful.
Since many American women will go to extraordinary lengths to be thin, the only solution for this growing problem is to attempt to understand why it has become such an obsession. It is clear that media, television, and acquaintances all stress the importance of being thin and beautiful to impressionable young women. If we as a society could only change the emphasis to be on the mind rather than on the body, women would benefit with increased self-esteem, healthier lifestyles, and increased confidence.
Genetic engineering has been one of the most controversial ethical issues since 1997, when the world first heard of Dolly, the first successfully cloned sheep. The news sparked a heated debate not only about genetic engineering generally, but also about whether it would be acceptable to apply some of the same techniques to humans. Although there is support for this among geneticists, there are some powerful moral reasons for opposing genetic engineering in humans.
There is something very objectionable about the idea of parents choosing the genetic make-up of their offspring. Imagine a couple agreeing to make their child tall, peaking somewhere near five feet eleven if female or six feet three inches if male, because dad wants an NFL quarterback and mom wants a super model. Both mom and dad have decided to add the gene for smartness, to take out the obesity gene, the gene that controls the risk of alcoholism, and the ones that predispose people to lung cancer and heart disease. A couple like this would effectively be searching for their ideal child in a catalog, almost as if they were deciding on a mail order purchase; and what would happen if the child, in spite of its genetic advantages, turned out to be a bit of a flop? There seems to be a threat here to the old idea that the parents' love for their child should be unconditional.
Another immoral consequence of genetic engineering in humans is extreme social inequality. Because only the rich will be able to afford expensive genetic interventions, two different classes will emerge in society, one with a vast genetic superiority over the other. This will competely undermine the old ideal of our fundamental human equality and the idea that each individual should have a chance of rising to the top of society. In a modern society it would be unacceptable if someone was born into a social class that they could not possibly rise out of.
For these and for other reasons it is clear that genetic engineering in humans would be immoral. Although there might be a few cases where a very limited form of genetic engineering might be justifiable on purely medical grounds, it is to be hoped that we will never allow parents to start picking and choosing the genetic make-up of their loved ones.
Nation of Immigrants
America is sometimes referred to as a "nation of immigrants" because of our largely open-door policy toward accepting foreigners pursuing their vision of the American Dream. Recently, there has been a clamor to close that door, arguing that immigrants threaten American life by taking jobs from American workers, by using much-needed social services, and by eroding on the "American way of life." While these arguments may seem valid to many, they are overwhelmingly false, and more than likely confused with the subject of illegal immigration.
A common argument among those opposing further immigration is that foreigners take U.S. jobs and cause unemployment among the displaced American workers. That view was highlighted by a recent poll, according to which sixty-two percent of non-blacks and sixty-three percent of blacks agreed that "new immigrants take jobs away from American workers." However, the truth is that immigration does not exacerbate unemployment. Immigrants do take jobs but by raising levels of consumption they help to boost the demand for labor.
Another widely held belief among Americans against immigration is that foreigners "strain social service budgets." According to the same poll, sixty-two percent of non-blacks and fifty-nine percent of blacks agreed "immigrants use more than their fair share of government services, such as welfare, medical care, and food stamps." In actuality, most immigrants are young and healthy when they arrive, and therefore do not receive expensive Social Security. What people need to realize is that immigrants contribute more in taxes than they draw out in welfare services. By putting more into the system than they take out, they are, in fact, raising the quality of life of those dependant of the social services.
Some of those who want to close our borders insist that this is necessary to preserve our nation from foreign influences. This perception of the foreigner as a threat is a common one. However, it needs to be remembered that immigrants bring with them valuable technical knowledge and skills, as well as being fifty percent more likely to have post-graduate qualifications than Americans. Our society is enhanced by their knowledge and education.
The issue of immigration must be dealt with rationally, not emotionally. Facts, figures, and statistics must be studied by both sides in order to reach a decision most beneficial to our nation. The labor situation is improved by the new jobs created by immigrants, the social service funds bolstered by their tax payments, and the valuable technical skills and knowledge brought with them. These benefits far outweigh any negative effects and prove the value of immigrants as they pursue the American Dream in our "nation of immigrants".