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Sometimes, there’s no way around it. You have to write a summary or analysis of a reading handed to you by your professor.
Yep. Gotta write it. Go on. Just do it and think about how you are sharpening your skills.
Sometimes though, assignments give you some choice. Assignments can be broad prompts that make you narrow in on your own topic. This is an important opportunity that you have to take advantage of, especially in English 111 and 112 where you are the most likely to get some freedom.
Research papers, argumentative papers, even choosing an article yourself to respond to; these are places where your choice can help you in your personal and professional life, so you have to make them work for you.
Whatever career you’re planning for yourself, you know that college is just the beginning of your professional education. There’s insider information, new ideas and exciting developments that will make your field a dynamic place with lots to learn. A research paper is a key way to get a head start.
How would you make a research assignment work for you?
Healthcare Major
• New drugs
• Treating chronic illness
• Hospital stats
• Malpractice lawsuits
Engineering major
• Specific technological advancements
• Patent rules
• Working in international settings
• Ethics
Education majors
• Child development
• Multicultural literature in the classroom
• Cross-curriculum
• Literacy
• Bilingual education
Business majors
• Development of a brand
• Copyright and trademarks
• Plagiarism and theft in the business world
• Sexual harassment

Many of these topics could also be turned into argumentative essays. You could argue for bilingual education, against tougher trademark rules, for new malpractice regulations. The point is, there is information you need to know to be successful in your field, and you don’t have to wait to find out some of those nitty gritty details. If you have to crack open some books anyway, they should be the books you would read as a professional.

On the other hand, let’s suppose you haven’t picked a major yet, or that you need a break from it. You can still pick a personal topic that will benefit you. Think about things you care about, read one or two articles or peruse some blogs. A question will strike you and you will want to know more. Go, student, use your assignment as a golden opportunity to learn more about what it is you find interesting.
It is essential that you use every possible assignment to your advantage. Classes like English 111 and English 112 are meant to help develop critical writing skills that are necessary to succeed in college and in most professions. It is a fact that people write better when they care about the topic, so choosing a fabulous topic is about more than just that valuable information (which you need anyway), but getting as much as you can out of your class. So whatever you do, make every class and every assignment worth your while.
(And if you don’t like my research suggestions, it is because you know better ones. Post your suggestions below).