What’s Your Furman Advantage?

Reflective Essay Contest

Furman Engaged! Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Deadline: April 23, 2019! 


The “What’s Your Furman Advantage?” integrative reflection contest, an initiative sponsored by the Center for Engaged Learning, foregrounds two core values of The Furman Advantage, vocational reflection and integrative learning, within the rich and varied context of Furman Engaged!. 

Students are invited to attend two or more sessions of interest and to compose a short essay that thoughtfully and creatively integrates different dimensions—for example, disciplines, methods, skills, problems, questions—with reflection on their personal or vocational value for the writer.

To incentivize participation, a $150 cash award will be given out to the best reflective essay in each class.


Students will…
  • …attend at least two Furman Engaged! sessions to explore their academic interests;
  • …articulate their learning through a reflective exercise; and
  • …devise a personalized academic plan on how they will achieve their Furman Advantage.


Prior to Furman Engaged!, students should review the online program to identify sessions that relate to their academic interests. Students will attend at least two sessions (e.g., oral presentations, poster presentations, art exhibits) and they should try to attend events that represent a variety of experiential learning opportunities (e.g., internships, study away, research, community-based learning). During each event students will take notes, write down questions that they have for the presenters, and be active participants.

Reflection essay

Each reflection should be between 700-900 words. Students must integrate the main components of the DEAL Model (Ash & Clayton, 2009), as described below. The following questions should serve as a guide; not all will be addressed. 

NOTE: If students are presenting in more than one Furman Engaged! event, they can write their reflection by adopting the perspective of a presenter as opposed to an attendee. 

Describe in detail the events you attended.

  • Who were the presenters?
  • What type of experiential learning context were the presentations based on (e.g., a capstone course, internship, summer research, study away)?
  • What were the presenters’ arguments, findings, perspectives, etc.?
  • Did the presenter have to collaborate with others to carry out their project or participate in the experience?
  • What questions did you have for the presenters?
  • How did the presenters interact with the audience members during the presentations? How were you engaged in the presentation?

Examine the content of the sessions.

  • What were the important findings of these presentations, studies, or experiences?
  • How did the academic content of these sessions connect with your classes and academic interests?
  • What interdisciplinary connections can you make? Mention specific readings, theories, skills, lessons, etc. to illustrate these connections.
  • How did these presentations challenge your previous beliefs about the topics?
  • What impact did this experience have on the students’ experiences at Furman?
  • What professional skills did the students seem to gain in order to complete their project or participate in such an experience?
  • How might they use these skills in the future?  

Articulate what your Furman Advantage is and what next steps you will take.

  • As a result of attending Furman Engaged!, what similar academic programs or opportunities might you pursue so you can achieve your “Furman Advantage”?
  • If you are a presenter, how have these opportunities enabled you to achieve your “Furman Advantage”?
  • Why do these topics matter?
  • How will you apply this academic knowledge in your present classes and/or other courses this term and beyond? Be specific.
  • What professional skills do you want to hone?
  • Create a plan and describe how you will accomplish your goals.
  • How will you participate in Furman Engaged! or a similar event in the future?

Submissions are due by Tuesday, April 23 as a PDF document and should be uploaded using the form below. Essays will be judged by a committee of Furman faculty and staff. Winners will be announced by Thursday, April 30. Selected winners’ essays will be featured on the Furman website.

Scoring rubric: Adapted from Ash and Clayton (2009, p. 40)


Exceeds expectations

Meets expectations

Does not meet expectations

Level of introspection

The academic connections were compelling and showed great insight and innovation; when making connections, oversimplifications were avoided; topics were thoroughly addressed.

The academic connections were logical; when making connections, oversimplifications were mostly avoided; topics were addressed sufficiently.

The academic connections in the reflection were weak and illogical; when making connections, oversimplifications were used; topics were not addressed sufficiently.


Provided detailed and clear descriptions, definitions, and future intentions. The writer’s Furman Advantage was lucidly explained.

Provided sufficient descriptions, definitions, and mentioned future intentions. The writer’s Furman Advantage was clear.

Descriptions and definitions were insufficient. Future intentions were not clear or mentioned. The writer’s Furman Advantage was ill-defined.


Statements were consistently accurate and supported by strong evidence.

Statements were mostly accurate and supported by evidence.

Statements were consistently inaccurate and/or not supported by evidence.

Quality of written work

The reflection was integrated; the tone was appropriate; the paper was mostly free of typos and other mechanical mistakes.

The reflection was somewhat integrated, but a bit disjointed at times; the tone was mostly appropriate; the paper was mostly free of typos and other mechanical mistakes.

The reflection was disjointed; there was no attempt to integrate the content; the tone was too informal; several typos and mechanical mistakes were present.

Works Cited

Ash, S. L., & Clayton, P. H. (2009). Generating, deepening, and documenting learning: The power of critical reflection in applied learning. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 1, 25-48.

Connect with Admission

Furman is one of the nation's premier liberal arts and sciences universities. We offer our students The Furman Advantage—an over-arching approach to education that promises every student a four-year personalized pathway, a team of advisors and mentors, and the opportunity for an engaged learning experience that is tracked and integrated with the students' academic and professional goals.

Want more information about the admission process at Furman?

Contact us

Once you see our campus, making the right college decision will be so much easier.

Plan a visit

Undergraduate Evening Studies provides adults the opportunity to receive an education from one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation.

Whether you are starting or continuing your education, or have been away from the classroom for a few months or several years, our program provides many services to assist you with accomplishing your educational and professional goals.

Apply now

Our graduate studies program is designed for the professional educator.

We know the challenges teachers and administrators face every day, and we are committed to helping you become a leader within your school system or district.

Apply now
  • Furman University