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Core Curriculum

Pathway Reflection Essay Instructions

Grading Rubric

 Essay Examples

Writing Tips

Essay Instructions and Guidelines

SCU's undergraduate programs feature a liberal arts education that encourages students to become independent thinkers who can draw connections between different fields of study and who find value in reflecting on their education, their goals, and how their learning impacts themselves and others.

This Pathway graduation requirement is an opportunity for you to challenge yourself by identifying and describing connections between Pathway courses and analyzing an issue, problem, or situation of your choice in a way that provides evidence of your abilities as a college graduate. The short reflection essay encourages you to integrate, analyze, and reflect on what you have learned at SCU inside and outside of the classroom; writing the essay can help you to illustrate and analyze your unique learning experiences and why those matter to you. 

  • Respond to all three questions after reading the description of your Pathway theme carefully (more than once) and reviewing the Tips document and scoring rubric. 
  • Specify clearly your Pathway, major(s), and relevant Pathway courses (e.g. HIST 113, Family in Antiquity)
  • Use 500 to 1000 words (approx. 2-3 pages)
  • Use clear organization (whether you respond to all three questions in one essay or to each question separately, setting off each of the three sections with internal headers)
  • Use polished prose and proofread carefully
  • Visit the HUB Writing Center for help revising your essay; aim to have the essay represent your achievements as a Santa Clara graduate.

What is a significant connection that emerges as you think about your Pathway theme and courses you completed for your Pathway (and, if relevant, courses in your major)?

Read the description of your Pathway. Courses are included in a Pathway because the Pathway Facilitator sees a link to overarching themes emphasized in the Pathway's description. However, the course instructors are not required to spell out the connections; that is your responsibility. Reflect on the courses you took to complete the Pathway and think about how learning within those courses overlaps with some themes and ideas suggested in the Pathway's description. How do the assignments you completed for the courses link to the Pathway? Describe the connection that you have identified in sufficient detail so readers not familiar with your coursework may understand the connection and how it relates to your Pathway theme. Identify the Pathway theme and relevant courses or major by name.

For example, a student who is completing the Politics and Religion Pathway and who is majoring in Economics might describe how assignments in specific Pathway courses taught her to see several ways in which economics can be linked with religious ideas and practices and her surprise at this discovery.]

What issue, problem, or situation relevant to the theme of your Pathway can be examined through two of the disciplinary approaches represented by courses in your Pathway?

Issues and problems that are pertinent to a Pathway theme are so complex they disallow for simple answers. Thus, it helps to analyze those issues or problems using more than one disciplinary perspective or method. Briefly analyze this issue or problem from the perspective of two different disciplines that you encountered in Pathway courses. Support your analysis with specific references to learning in your Pathway courses and name the relevant courses.

For example, a student in the Sustainability Pathway who identifies the availability of clean water as an issue or problem might explain and analyze how two different courses (e.g., a course in engineering and one in history--or sociology or religious studies) view the problem and how the different disciplinary perspectives (such as theories, methods, or concepts) aim to address the problem in overlapping or diverging ways.

In what ways has the learning you experienced in your Pathway complemented your learning for your major(s), your education overall, or your life experiences?
As you reflect, you might consider the following:

  • Have specific Pathway courses deepened your understanding of issues in your major(s) or allowed you to develop a separate expertise outside of your major(s)?
  • Implications of Pathway learning for your life: Do you have a new understanding of significant social issues? Did you experience a revision of beliefs or values? Have you developed new interests, commitments, or ways of thinking?

For example, a student in the Global Health Pathway with a Communication major might describe how the Pathway courses he selected in Anthropology (Human Culture and Nutrition), Critical Thinking and Writing (Reading Food, Self & Culture), and Public Health (Community Health), made him think more deeply about how a culture of fast food leads to poor health and obesity, and the role he might play in improving children’s access to healthy foods.

Final Note:

Each year, prizes are awarded to students who write exemplary reflection essays--we hope to award one for each Pathway. Moreover, those who reflect carefully on their educational experiences often find they can apply ideas from their essay or Pathway learning to other experiences and job interviews (for examples see: Please note: in order to prevent a revise-and-resubmit score, essays need to meet the minimum pass requirements for all four sections of the scoring rubric.

You must submit your essay by your petition to graduate:

December 2018 Graduates: Due October 5, 2018
March 2019 Graduates: Due January 25, 2019
June 2019 Graduates: Due February 22, 2019
September 2019 Graduates: Due April 26, 2019

Please consult the Registrar's website for graduation petition deadlines.