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Tracking an Evolving Thesis (Concern about education versus degree essay)

hanhtienng 1 / -  
Nov 14, 2006   #1
Tracking an Evolving Thesis: 1st Draft
Working thesis: " Many college students are more concerned with getting a degree, than getting an education."


Is our main purpose in life is to get a decent well-paid job? Is it our goal to be successful in this economically competitive world? This is what it seems like when one sets foot on the UCLA campus during the final week. Everywhere one looks, people are diligently buried themselves into a 3-inch thick textbooks, or constantly producing rhythmic clicking sound with their fingers against their Apple laptop's keyboard. Upon every student's face is a sign of weariness, aged with much stress and paranoia. Although distant and isolate, all these individual students chant the same mantras: must pass the class, must score high on exam, must graduate, and must get into grad school. Every individual hopes to be successful in whatever h/she does, and there is no other guaranteed way of receiving a social and economical boost like receiving a degree. It seems like there is more emphasis on receiving a degree than on actually in the enjoyment of empowering knowledge.

Our society emphasis on a degree can be clearly shown through the cheating phenomena. A few days ago, in my English Composition 2i class, we had a written assignment regarding the shift in ethical standards. We concluded the cause for many students' cheating behavior was the pressure to succeed and the fear of failure. In our vigorously competitive society, a degree is everything. A degree highlights the average Joe from a crowd. A degree also implies a high social status. According to the National College Survey, there are 60% more students admitted to cheating now than they did 10 years ago. All college students know cheating is wrong, but they were brought up with the idea that "failure, not aiming low that should be avoided (Declining by Degree)." Kids are brought into a society where "winning the game" is everything. Both their hope and future are determined by their success. In this society, students choose to cheat because of the social pressure to earn a degree and the fear of being a loser.

Everyone knows it; everyone who is a college student knows how to execute this process before enrolling into a class. All a student needs is a laptop, internet access, and bruinwalk.ucla.edu. I've tried it. Before I commit myself to any class for this quarter; I looked up all of my potential professors on bruinwalk.ucla.edu, a website where students rate their professors using criteria such as difficulty in grading, ability in teaching etc. I checked out all the possible professors and decided my enrollment based solely on the professor's rating. I do confess that I have tried to stay away from professor with difficulty range more than a 7 on a 1-10 scale. Even though I know that the criteria I use to choose a class is not reliable, I would rather risk being wrong than to fail a class. Failing a class means money and time are being wasted, and the chance of receiving a degree or entering a graduate school lessoned. It is understandable for students to consider a professor's rating before committing to a course. After all, to a student a degree also means a commitment of time, energy and money.

Much ado about nothing, some students simply don't like showing up to class. They reason: the discussion is not helpful, the lecture is not beneficial, the professors are confusing, and the TAs are not very articulate. But, bottom line reasons and excuses are just the consequence of laziness and spontaneous apathy. A week ago, my friend and I went to a pre-med fraternity rush: we bowled, we socialized, and we ate at Norm's. By the time we finished all the planned activities, it was 2 in the morning on Friday and we all have classes at the early 8. I chose to wake up and attended class, while my roommate, chose to stay in bed. She reasoned that it would be a waste of time because she couldn't understand a word through the professor's thick and rigid Asian accent. She chose to study the material on her own. Even though her decision was proven to be careless and evidently not very convincing, she still finished all the required readings and finished all the homework assignments on time. My roommate surely didn't care about the educational opportunity she had missed out by ditching class. The only thing she cared about was her grade. Students will only do the minimal amount of work to pass a class, just enough "hardwork" to secure a degree.

November 31st is approaching, anyone who is related to an 18-years-od teenager should know about this date. It is the dead-line for sending out college applications. Many nervous high school seniors busily gathering information: GPA's, AP test scores, SAT I and SAT II scores, awards, volunteer hours and positions, activities, clubs etc. On top of that, they have to include the eluded perfect personal statement. According to David L. Kipp, author of "This Little Student Went to Market," the number one criterion when choosing a college lies in its rank rather than in its quality of education.

On other end of the spectrum are the practical seniors who will take the best financial aid package offer or otherwise, attend a low cost community or state college. Beside the monetary aspect, these people also try to fit their personality with the college that they think would offer them the most opportunity academically and socially. To them, there is no difference between a "Harvard" degree and a "Fullerton" degree. Every pre-med student would go through the same materials, take the same biology courses, and attend some kind of chemistry lab. To these students, the thing that matters most is the enjoyment in learning about the world and discovering about themselves. Even though there are people who put great value on a degree from a famed college, there are still people who prefer to learn.

Many college students change their major at least twice before they finally decide on the one they will hold steadfast to (UCLA Orientation '06). According to a College Students Survey, more than 80% of the students are unsatisfied with their first declared major. When it comes to choosing a major, many students run into the same problem: they can't commit themselves to an area of study. There are simply too many options to choose from. On top of that, students have to make sure that they choose the major that they are most passionate about. Otherwise, it would be struggle to get through four intensive years with an uninteresting major, and earning a degree would become even more difficult. In a way, choosing a major is a declaration of a passion towards a subject. Once a student feels passionate about an area of study, it would be an enjoyment rather than a torture to attend lectures and do homework. Consequently, it would be less stressful to pass a class and therefore, receive a college degree.

Although the social pressure to succeed motivates many students to focus on earning a college degree; it is the personal pressure of self-contentment that allows college students to choose the major that they're passionate in learning more about.
EF_Team2 1 / 1708  
Nov 15, 2006   #2

You raise some interesting issues and make some good points in your thesis. I'd be happy to give you some hints on improvements you might make.

Be careful about matching verb tenses. For example, "Before I commit myself to any class for this quarter; I looked up all of my potential professors ... " - commit is present tense, looked is past tense.

"people are diligently buried themselves" also mixes tenses.

Remember that semicolons are used only with two separate clauses that could stand on their own: "Before I commit myself to any class for this quarter" would be a sentence fragment, so you can't divide it from the second half of the sentence with a semicolon. The same applies to your last sentence.

"Is our main purpose in life is to get a decent well-paid job?" - You don't need the second "is." It helps to read your essay out loud to catch little errors like this.

"Much ado about nothing, some students simply don't like showing up to class." To me, this sentence not only is run-on, but also does not really make sense. "Much ado about nothing" means making a big deal out of something trivial. You could leave it out and be fine. Be aware that in formal writing, contractions like "don't" are not used.

"spontaneous apathy" strikes me as something of a contradiction. I don't think "spontaneous" is the word you are looking for here.

November 31st does not exist ... do you mean 30th?

Your paragraph on students at the "other end of the spectrum" seems out of place in this essay about students who just want to get a degree at the expense of learning.

You have a good start here. Go through your essay carefully, double-checking grammar and punctuation, and make sure if you use an expression that it really fits what you mean to say.

I hope this is helpful to you!


Sarah, EssayForum.com

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