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Marina Rosa
Megan Keaton
ENC 2135-07
8 July 2015
The Genres to a Great College Essay
When the word genre comes up many people immediately think about genres of music,
movies, or books, and as Devitt stated, genres were traditionally determined based on the
similarity within these compositions, such as, the meter, the layout, the organization, the level
of diction and so on (Devitt 575). But as ideas have further developed, genre is also considered
a compositions kind, category, or sort (Braziller and Kleinfield 5). Genres and rhetorical
situation also relate in a way that the rhetorical situation is the context in which the writer
composes in, saying he or she must have an intended audience and specific purpose. (Braziller
and Kleinfield 8). Therefore it comes to our understanding that a music composer, for example,
goes through a variety of genres in order to compose a Rock song which itself is also considered
a genre. The genres he might encounter could be simple genres such as the brainstorming of the
title of the song. Moreover, we can say that genres are essentially the tools composers use to
reach their final product. By calling genres tools we can effectively describe them as the building
blocks that assist writers in the processing of writing their composition.
When completing my application for Florida State University one of the requirements
was to write a 500-word essay on a specific prompt. This restricted my ability to choose a certain
genre for my composition, as the university demanded the genre to be an essay. Even though at
first I did not believe that an essay would express my personality well, I managed to work with a
diverse genre ecology, which allowed me to make the essay professional and informative. My

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goal was to create a composition that would allow the admission counselors at Florida State
University to understand my personality and get to know some of my particular characteristics.
The next genre that I encountered was the essay prompt, which was attached to my online
application on the universitys website. The prompt genre had the purpose of guiding me on what
the content of the essay should be but it was also a tool for how to write the essay as the
university wanted. With this in mind I began to brainstorm some ideas of how I wanted to go
about this essay. The prompt allowed me to think of notes and helped me decide what could and
should go in my essay, like for example, since the prompt involved community service right
away I knew that I had to put in my notes to look at my resume in order to remember some of the
community service activities that I had done. I decided to use a notebook when brainstorming my
next genre, which were notes and annotated them in a notebook because I am a kinesthetic
learner and it would serve me best when thinking of what to incorporate in my essay. I also chose
this genre because I tend to work better when my ideas are organized, and in a line-notebook I
easily did that as I divided my ideas into certain topics and subtopics, which in the end facilitated
my process of writing the essay. As soon as I started taking notes, I noticed that having organized
information would be essential for me to write a successful essay. The notes allowed me to have
a rough draft of ideas that I should incorporate when writing my essay.
After gathering my ideas and thoughts on how I wanted to go about the essay I decided to
communicate with my high school counselor to be certain that what I was planning on writing
would be what was expected of me. The easiest way for me to communicate with her to get the
necessary feedback that I needed to begin writing was through emails. This genre helped me get
my questions to my counselor quickly and easily. The information and questions that I sent in the
emails were the ones that I had written in my notes. It also was very efficient as I could go back

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to the emails at any time I wanted while writing the essay. Once I received a response from my
counselor on the questions that I had, she suggested that before I actually started writing that I
should do some research on college essays. And so I researched through the Internet on Google
and found sample college essays that I thought would be helpful in order for me to enrich not
only my ideas but also the style I should use when writing my essay. By following my counselors
advice, the genre of the emails between her and I led me to my next genre which were the sample
college essays. After finding these essays I decided to print two of the ones I thought
incorporated best what college essays should have. This genrethe sample essays allowed me to
comprehend the format, the diction, and level of formality that was expected of me in a college
essay. By having used that genre as a tool to help me with my own essay, I am certain that I
saved time and also ended up with a product of better quality.
Considering that now I already knew how I had to structure and compose the essay I
decided to focus on details that I would need to talk about within essay. The prompt gave the
applicants the freedom of choosing what topic they would want to talk about within the essay;
the topics included leadership, learning, service, and global awareness. Of the topics mentioned,
I chose to focus my essay on service since it was one of the aspects of the question that I could
relate myself the most with. I had been doing community service for almost four years and that
was something I was absolutely certain that I would have to include in any of my college essays.
The fact that I chose to write about service required me to recall all the community service I did
in the past and the best way to find that was through my resume, my notes and the prompt of the
essay were the genres that led me to the genre of the resume. This genre allowed me to determine
which examples of my service experiences I would want to write about and recall the details on
the services.

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The fact that I already had a resume ready was exceptionally convenient to me, since that
genre is organized in a way that allows me to quickly go through all the service opportunities I
took part on, while providing me with brief descriptions that I wrote at the time and probably
would not be able to perfectly recall when writing an essay. As an example, one of the
community service experiences I wrote about took place in 2012 and I did not fully remember
what it was like to be part of it, but with the help of the information I had gathered in my resume
I was able to recall all I had done and added some more important content to the essay, which I
thought was important in order to convey the message I was trying to get across to the admission
committee. The community services and parts that I chose from my resume were influenced
based on the prompt and emails because due to the advice from my counselor I picked most
noticeable community service activities and the ones that benefit not only others but also myself.
Once I had decided on the community services that I was going to mention in my
composition and my ideas on how to write it, I needed to put them all together and the way I
gathered all my ideas and examples for services together was through creating an outline of the
essay. The genre of the outline was composed through the use of all the other genres, providing
support to the claim that genres are like building blocks in writing. The notes helped me narrow
down to the most important information that I actually wanted in my paper, then the prompt was
the topic of my paper and also what led me to email my counselor and ask her for advice. And
based on her advice decided to use the genre the sample essays to make sure I understood how
the essay was supposed to be written. But also based on my counselors advice I used the genre of
the resume to pick the community service activities that I wanted to mention in my essay, finally
leading my to the outline of my essay. The outline contained the way I was going to format the
essay, the way I was going to break down the content in different paragraphs, and what the main

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topic of each paragraph would be. The genre of the outline also contained the main points of the
essay and the exact examples of what community services I was going to mention and in what
paragraph each would fit in. After having learned about genre ecology I am able to discern that
my college essay that I wrote to Florida State University was made up based on several different
genres, which makes me appreciate how significant it could have been to me to have known
more about this aspect of English at the time.
Lastly a genre that I worked with while writing the essay itself was listening to
alternative rock, more specifically the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. The purpose this genre
served is that when I am composing something if I am not listening to music I can get easily
distracted by people talking or my phone, and by listening to music I dont hear anything else
therefore it forcibly makes me focus on just writing. I listen specifically to alternative rock
because it is not something heavy such as metal but it is also not something that will make me
drowsy such as instrumental music. It has beats and lyrics, which somehow keep me focused as
when I write. Even though most people I know do not like to work while listening to music,
claiming it gets them distracted from what their task is, music helps me focus by involuntarily
getting me into a rhythm in which I start writing faster while also being more effective with my
The genre ecology that I used in this situation to compose my Florida State University
application essay indicates how I work as a composer and what genres I go through in order to
finish a composition. The genres that helped me get to the final product were extremely diverse
and all had a connection, as one genre essentially led to another one. The genres also express
how I am as a composer, they show that I go through steps and use them as building blocks in
order to reach my final product I strongly believe that the structure that I used would not have

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been as effective as it was had I not had access to all the genres and tools I mentioned earlier in
this essay. I now realize that in order to write a coherent, concise and meaningful piece, having
access to a diverse genre ecology is definitely necessary.

Works Cited
Braziller, Amy, and Elizabeth Kleinfield. The Bedford Book of Genres: A Guide & Reader.

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Boston: Bedford St. Martins, 2014. Print.
Devitt, Amy. Generalizing about Genre: New Concepts of an Old Concept. CCC 44.4 (Dec
1993): 587-586. Print.

Genre Ecology Map

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