English 1010

Essay Two: Analyzing Costs and Benefits

The Assignment: Write a brief (3-4 pages) persuasive essay that supports an original thesis. As part of your support, acknowledge that your position (like opposing positions) has both costs and benefits, and explain why you think the benefits of your position outweigh the costs.

Guidelines: This essay should support a thesis derived from the readings and discussions through Groups 2 and 3. Try to use the skills you practiced in writing Essay One (writing a strong thesis, building common ground with your readers) and add to them by incorporating a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, don’t forget what you learned in writing Essay One.

Like the first essay, this assignment asks you to consider reasons why readers might disagree with the position you’ve articulated. In fact, that task is now even more important, since a central part of your essay will be acknowledging arguments that work against your point, incorporating these into your persuasive efforts. The better job you can do of understanding opposing perspectives, the more fully you will succeed in making a case for your own position.

A cost-benefit approach to persuasive writing depends on the credibility you are able to build as a writer. In addressing opposing claims, you should represent them fairly and take pains to establish your neutrality and reasonableness. This does not mean that you should avoid taking a strong and clear perspective; having a strong thesis is still central to this assignment. It means that you should approach the problem as an open-minded, unbiased person who holds a certain opinion for valid reasons.

Although the cost-benefit approach will shape your essay to a degree, it is best not to get too formulaic. An essay that simply summarizes a cost, a benefit, another cost, another benefit, etc., will quickly become tedious to your readers. Especially in the essay’s introduction and conclusion, try to establish readers’ interest and involvement in what you have to say. Explain why it’s an important topic to consider, as well as a difficult one to resolve. Surprise your readers with your willingness to think—and write—about the issue with thoughtfulness and creativity.

It is also important not to think of “costs” and “benefits” only in economic terms. For example, a college education may or may not be profitable economically; are there reasons to go to college (or not to go) other than economic calculation?

Peer-editing draft: Due Thursday, February 14
Revised draft: Due Tuesday, February 19

Back to schedule