Freshman Reading Project Essay Prompt

To conclude your participation in the Freshman Reading Project, you must now write a brief reflective essay and attend a discussion session about your readings. You must complete the paper and discussion in order to remain in good standing in the Honors Program.

Here is the essay prompt:


Choose one of these options, and submit it at or before the time of your small group meeting.

Option 1 – Writing Prompt

In mid-February of your freshman year, you find yourself alone at Common Grounds, pondering some weighty decision or challenge you are facing. (Think of something realistic and important.) You know that whatever you do or decide will have the potential to alter your life in significant ways. When you sit down with your freshly brewed Cowboy Coffee, you noticed a golden spoon waiting at your table. You pick it up and notice the initials D.B. engraved on the handle. Intrigued, you use the spoon to stir your coffee. As the steam rises, the very character (you pick!) that you read about in David Brooks’ Road to Character suddenly appears sitting across from you. You take this opportunity to disclose to this character the weighty situation confronting you. The two of you engage in a lengthy conversation.

Describe in a dialog of 600-800 words

  • The nature of your decision or challenge.
  • The advice your interlocutor gives you with references to specific examples in The Road to Character.
    • You might consider the particular tensions or struggles between your resume virtues and your eulogy virtues as you deal with the situation.
    • Your dialog may reflect your agreement or disagreement with this character, but as you craft your dialog, try to illuminate why David Brooks may have chosen to highlight this person’s character, including their limitations and virtues.
  • The dialog needs to be well crafted, creative, and free from grammatical and spelling errors.

You may wish to set the scene but these scene-setting words will not be a part of the 600-800 words required. And remember: This is not an essay but rather a dialog similar to what you might find in a play or television script.


Option 2 – Visual Expression with Artist’s Statement – Create an original piece of art no larger than 16”x20” that expresses the inspiration you received from reading David Brooks’ The Road to Character, and in particular the individuals profiled by Brooks in your selected chapters. In a one-page artist’s statement, explain your work, making reference to at least two examples from the book in this written statement. Artwork should be framed or matted for display in the Honors Suite. If work does not reflect time spent or a polished presentation, you will be asked to re-do it. Most all mediums will be accepted with the exception of photographs or graphic images not created by you. If you wish to incorporate some photos or graphic images into your piece using other mediums, please do so sparingly. Please direct any questions about this to Ms. Marcum.


For either option, illustrate your points by references to specific acts of reading in your past, and to passages from the book. Grades will be based on how well you follow these instructions, and the quality of your writing and/or original art. Check spelling and grammar before submitting your assignment. If submitting art, submit a polished piece of work.

The essay will be due to your small group discussion leader at the time of your meeting.


Did you miss the Freshman Assembly?

If you missed the Freshman Assembly because of a class conflict, you need to sign up for a discussion session. Sign-up sheets are posted outside of Dr. Beck's door in the Honors Suite, Morrison 203. Once you have signed up for a particular meeting time, send an email to the discussion leader to let him or her know that you are joining the group. You can look up a student's email address via Baylor Outlook by starting a new email composition and clicking on the "To..." button next to the address bar. This will open up a search box where you can search by first or last name. Please sign up as soon as possible as spots are being filled.

Please don't hesitate to contact or Ms. Sarah Marcum if you have any questions or if problems arise.


A link to an .mp3 file of Dr. Elizabeth Corey's talk at the Freshman Assembly is posted below. (Click on Dr. Corey's picture to access the file.) You may find this helpful in framing your thoughts.