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Kelsey Niemann

Finding Myself in Uncertainty

          From an early age I established many goals. One of them was to attend a large university directly upon graduating from high school. Throughout high school I figured out what I wanted to do later on in my life and was certain I was choosing the right path for myself. There are many stereotypes ending in the idea that teenagers really actually have no clue what they want to do with their rest of their lives no matter how set they have their minds. For some, that is not the case at all. For me, however, I quickly fell into that category shortly before I left for my first semester at college.

          I had anticipated college for a long time. Graduating from high school and knowing I was on to “bigger and better” was what I had awaited for so many years. That summer, however, I began questioning my decisions. Engineering seemed to be a perfect path for me. Since having taken extremely few classes that did not fall into the STEM category, it made sense. Purdue University was the match for my engineering desires, or so I thought. Even before the start of the semester, I realized I was burned out. I had interest in what I had chosen to study, but I had basically been taking similar classes for years and I did not want to pursue that any longer. I have had a love for travel and sports for as long as I can remember, so I decided to go against all odds and change my major to something that could include my new wishes. The very first week of my new college life, I walked into the engineering advising office and requested a change of major. It was then discovered that as a freshman, I could not change majors until the end of the semester and I would need to remain in engineering courses until further notice. I became highly discouraged and felt as if I had made a huge mistake.

           My first semester seemed never ending and was a challenge to say the least. I tried my best to succeed in my courses, but that burned out feeling I felt over the summer had escalated to new heights. I struggled tremendously despite how long I studied and how much extra help I received. To make matters worse, I became very sick throughout the semester, resulting in a few weeks of missed classes. It appeared that no matter what I did, I was not destined to succeed.

          The engineering department at Purdue is enormous and choosing to drop that program made me feel like an outcast at the university. I was afraid to tell others I was leaving engineering because expectations were very high for me to succeed in such a field. I thought I was letting people down. Towards the end of the fall semester, however, I realized the only person I was letting down was myself. I had to choose what was best for myself and what made me the happiest. I worked endlessly to finish the semester on a high note and turned my focus on finding what areas I felt the most passionate towards.

          I’ve realized from this experience that chasing after my true dreams gave me a support system I never knew I had and has opened up many great opportunities for my future. This hardship in my life can be an example for others who are still trying to find their inner desires. My situation is an example of being yourself and taking whatever path you wish to accomplish and what makes you the happiest, even if that means going against the “norm”.

KLN

Trade Programs

I recently needed to write a response to a prompt discussing an issue of important to me that I feel needs to be addressed and why awareness should be brought to my item of choice. I was originally completely lost on what I could possibly write on, so I talked with my mom and she brought up the elimination of trade courses in school curriculums (thanks mom <3).

Here’s a rough copy of some of my thoughts:

           One issue of importance to me is the elimination of trade courses in schools. Some of the most valuable types of trades courses I believe are needed are automotives and building/construction. It is important to include courses such as these, especially at the high school level, because they teach important life skills and provide career opportunities.

          Higher education is greatly emphasized in the world today. With increasing knowledge in fields such as medicine and technology, the demand for people to keep up with the times is of great need. For some students, however, their career goals are unclear as they approach high school graduation, some may feel unprepared for higher levels of education, and for even some, post-secondary education is just not an appropriate fit.  Students within these categories need to have other options available to them in order to make a living after graduation.

          Trade courses teach basic life skills to anyone enrolled in the class. A large majority of Americans use some form of an automobile every single day. Similar to most things in life, cars and other modes of transportation are not perfect and can break down for a variety of reasons. Many minor issues have the ability to be solved quickly without the need for assistance if the operator of the vehicle has the experience necessary. Such experience, like changing a tire or the oil in a car, are skills often taught in basic level automotive courses. In addition, building/construction courses provide students opportunities to gain hands on experience in working with tools and other building materials that may be needed when making repairs or working on places such as in a home. If people do not attain skills such as these, many things would go uncared for or could result in a larger issue than the original.

          Careers in trade businesses have been around for hundreds of year and will continue to be in demand in the future. It is important to have workers in the automotive industry as well as the construction industry because there is always a need for a more experienced member of society to complete work. Some issue with vehicles may be more complicated and require a different set of skills that some people do not have, so someone specialized in that field is of great help. That need also applies to those working in construction. Without workers in such fields, transportation would be almost impossible and the places in which we spend a majority of our lives eating, sleeping, and working would not exist. Life would be more complicated without the skills of men and women in the trade field.

          This generation needs to reimplement trade courses into school curriculums. Without these classes, a large number of people would be left jobless and without any means of financial income. In addition, basic skills, as well as more advanced skills, may be attained in many fields including automotives and construction which are resources used and what many Americans rely on nearly every single day. I feel that this issues is of prominent importance and a lack of recognition to this issue could cause problems for current and future generations.

KLN

Changing the Blog

Taking this from an undergrad english course blog to whatever I feel like sharing. Time for some fun 🙂

KLN

READING RESPONSE: LYNCH & HORTON’S WEB STYLE GUIDE CHAPTERS 4, 7 & 9

Chapter 4:

  1. Navigating your way through a website is similar to navigating through a physical place for many reasons. To start, upon arrival you have basically no idea where you are heading if you are unfamiliar with the site/place, so often times you look around for your options. Despite there being no clear marker telling you exactly what to do and where to go, you do some exploring, which ultimately leads you down a path whether it be a good one or a bad one. If it’s good, you continue exploring and find what you’re seeking. If it’s bad, you retrace your steps and start over until you get somewhere better. As you go, there should and will be smalls notes and sites that you can recall or reference to when you need assistance. Navigating a website is a bit different from navigating a physical location because when you need assistance in a physical place your communication typically involves direct face-to-face interaction with someone to offer advice, while on a website there will be little to no communication with another person and if there is, it will often times be in a text/chat format.
  2. Good practices for aiding users in navigating through a website would be to include headings for different pages, ideas, paragraphs, and any other part of the site that introduces something new. The home page should literally be home for the website and be able to lead users to any part of the site they desire to go. The design should be simple enough that users do not have to spend a great amount of time looking around for what they are interested in. It’s important not to have “dead-end pages” on the site and have cluttered pages that lead to several different areas of the site.
  3. Gestalt theory is the way people perceive something based upon how they are able to analyze it and from their initial view of it. This is important in visual rhetoric because Gestalt theory will determine how someone interprets the information or graphics presented and what they mean or the significance of the visualization as a whole.
  4. Lynch and Horton highly recommend a site that is flexible for both the builders of the site and the readers. This allows users to move freely throughout the site without complication and is also useful for the builders because if a problem arises, a simpler fix is possible. Using a flexible site also allows users to access the information on many different devices and be able to use it whenever there is the need. They also suggest creating a clear logo that reassures users the information on the site is trustworthy and from a recognizable source.
  5. One reason people find reading on a computer uncomfortable is because they continually have to scroll through pages and click to move on to the next page. This repetitive action can be an annoyance and a tedious action to be doing and can result in readers just skimming over the writing due to a lack of motivation to comply with the set-up of the site.
  6. The inverted pyramid is a different way of presenting new ideas. When using this technique, the most important ideas are given first, followed by ideas of less value. The point of this is to try to make the audience remember the first information presented (primary effect).
  7. Effect ways to accommodate readers online reading needs include front-loading, giving clear examples, remaining on topic, and providing clear titles and subtitles. Lynch and Horton practice what they preach by first of all, using clear, bold headings to help their readers quickly and easily find the information they are seeking. They use front-loading to pull in the readers attention and strategically place key points where a reader will best notice and understand them. Throughout their site they remain focused and present concise points.

Twitterative Design

Design 1:

According to researchers at Purdue University, mixing alcohol and energy drinks affects the brain similarly to cocaine.

Design 2:

Researchers at Purdue University found the brain to react to cocaine and a mix of alcohol and energy drinks similarly.

Design 3:

Research at Purdue concluded the brain reacts to alcohol-energy drink mixes similarly to cocaine.

Design 4:

Alcohol-energy drink mixes and cocaine similarly affect the brain concludes Purdue University.

Design 5:

Caffeinated alcohol affects the brain similarly to cocaine concludes @Purdue.

READING RESPONSE: “TWITTER POSTINGS: ITERATIVE DESIGN” AND “WRITING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA”

  1. Mr. Nielsen is emphasizing the importance of catching Twitter viewers attention quickly and in a way that is informative, but not overwhelming. He greatly considers the character count set by Twitter and changes the tweet multiple times in order to ensure the viewer can retweet and add their own comment into it if they were to quote it. All in all, he wants the tweet to be precise, informative, and appealing.
  2. Nielsen used made revisions removing words that weren’t necessarily needed, but rather took up character counts and also used caps to emphasize the most important detail of the tweet. Another revision he made was to add the months in which the events would take place and edited grammar in order to make shorter points. The revisions that had the most impact were the grammatical changes and adding the months because it provided more useful information for viewers, yet was simple and easy to understand and retain what was stated just from a quick glance.
  3. According the the Nielsen Norman Group’s user-research some of the best practices for businesses wanting to communicate via social media include posting regularly, keeping posts to the point (no excess information, straight to the point), and to be easily accessible. Some no-no’s are posting too often, not posting enough, crappy usernames, and writing in a tone not appropriate for the audience or company.
  4. Mr. Nielsen practices what he preaches by editing the post to be  organized and direct, while maintaining a casual, yet informative and professional tone.

READING RESPONSE: “SOME PEOPLE”

In the visual created by Luke Pearson the graphics are the most dominant form of story telling while the small portions of text serve to briefly introduce or connect between the events in the photos. The visuals take what is stated in the thought bubbles and are able to elaborate further and literally show the viewer changes as the story progresses. The use of visuals is helpful for readers because it allows them to better understand what is happening throughout the story and see/relate to the emotions and experiences of the characters. Pearson’s use of repetition with the beginning and ending graphics helps the reader to decipher that this event is a full circle and how seeing the boy’s entire life can change the perspective of him. In addition, since there are so many different characters and lives addressed in this story, the graphics help the reader keep track of who is who and what is happening at each point.

READING RESPONSE: REMEDIATION READS

  1. The report included an unbiased coverage of the event. It provided a lot of precise data and information about the event while also remaining unbiased about the situation despite the many assumptions made as a result of the situation. The graphic, on the other hand, was less specific in what it presented, but showed the readers what happened rather than explaining it.
  2. A graphic report has the ability to appeal towards the viewers emotions in response to whatever is being covered. Sometimes when an event is explained with only words it is hard to picture or gives off the wrong impression and can be confusing to understand. The use of graphics forces the viewer to see the situation as however the author wants them to and, therefore, prevents misinterpretation or the ability of the viewer to see it in another manner.
  3. Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon are trying to provoke more emotion into people when they see the images. Although they are still trying to provide useful facts and information on the topic, they are trying to reach viewers in a different way by appealing to the emotional side. In doing so, the effects of the situation become more real for others as they exemplify some of the horrors seen and felt that day by many.

READING RESPONSE: WHY ACADEMICS’ WRITING STINKS

  1. The popular explanation outside universities for why academics suck at writing is that due to lack of things to put into a piece, scholars use stronger language that’s harder to understand and makes the writing seem more intelligent. Within academics it is believed that the subject matter is just a difficult topic as is and requires certain language and style because of what it entails. Pinker believes that academic writing sucks because the author is either trying to prove his/herself a worthy source or trying too  hard to give the reader what he or she needs.
  2. Six obnoxious attributes of the “self-conscious style” include metadiscourse, professional narcissism, apologizing, shudder quotes, hedging, and metaconcepts and nominalizations.
  3. Although not initially named as one of the six main attributes, I sometimes struggle with the “curse of knowledge” in writing things including formal paper all to the way to text messages. I’m not the best at breaking things down or just choose not to in order to save myself the time and effort, which tends to lead to confusion and sometimes makes whoever I am working with angry because they can’t follow what I am trying to say. I’m just terrible with assuming that someone has the knowledge already or what I might consider common sense when in reality, they don’t. I think, however, if you are careful with this trait and consider the audience you are reaching that sometimes it might be okay to assume general knowledge on the topic in order to not be redundant and waste time. This would only work if the situation was appropriate and still carries risk.
  4. In a writer’s style I most value the tone in which the piece is written. For me, the tone gives off vibes right from the start on whether or not I’m going to be able to follow along and have at least a little interest in what I’m reading. A tone that is too powerful can overshadow the information in the work and give me negative opinions on what is being presented where something too light for a more serious topic can make me not give the information the full attention and focus it may need.

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