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College

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Submitted By michaelakcasey
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“Some people get an education without going to college. The rest get it after they get out.” (Twain 1) Is Mark Twain right, could college be a complete waste of time and money?
Caroline Bird would agree with Twain on his implied view of college being a utter waste. Bird questions the real motive behind receiving a college education and depicts her view onto the minds of many college students in todays world. Mike Rose in his article about “Blue-Collar
Brilliance” as well as Brent Staples in his writing about “Why Colleges Shower Their Students with A’s” make several valid, relative points that correlate with Bird’s belief on college being a complete waste of both time and money. Bird’s argument can be valid under the circumstance that one becomes unusually successful in a blue collar career, a student is simply given grades instead of earned and many other situations that go outside the traditional aspects of society and education. I, however, strongly disagree with Bird’s belief that college is a waste of time and money because despite her assertion that it is an expensive, time consuming commitment and the initial intention may be influenced by parents or societal pressures, the student will eventually gain a desire to learn and pursue a career if college is the right path for them.
Even though I may not agree, Bird supports her argument very well with both statistics and convincing input. By stating that “no more than 25 percent of students are turned on by

Casey !2 classwork” (Bird 217), she therefore provides the reader with valid, relatable evidence that college may indeed be a waste of both time and money. She then follows with her convincing opinion that claims “I have been overwhelmed by the prevailing sadness on American campuses”
(Bird 218). This implies and supports that students are not happy with classwork and have portrayed sadness due to the pressure to attend and complete college. Blue Collar Brilliance by
Mike Rose also has several points that are supportive to Bird’s argument. Rose makes a relative point by saying “Although writers and scholars have often looked at the working class, they have generally focused on the values workers exhibit rather than on the thought their work requires” (Rose 228). To clarify, Rose is saying white collar workers often view blue collar job positions on the economic scale verses looking in depth as to what the occupation really requires and the toll it takes on an individual. This relates back to Bird’s argument because if one can truly succeed in a blue collar job than college could easily be a waste of time as a degree is not required in their chosen career path. Brent Staple’s also implies that college is a waste if students do not earn the grades they are receiving. In his article, Why Colleges Shower Their Students with A’s, he explains his belief in the negative inflation of the overall grade average on college campuses. “Campus wide averages have crept up from a C just 10 years ago to B-plus today” (Rose 215). Not only does Staples supports his belief but he provides valid statistics as to the increase in grade average over the years. The relates to both Bird and Rose because despite the waste of time, you are not truly retaining the education you are paying for and this will result in quite a struggle once you attempt to obtain a job with the degree you did not work for. This will then put you at a blue collar job which supports Rose’s argument as well as Bird’s because

Casey !3 your college education would then be a waste of both time and money if your degree is not put to use. Although Bird makes many valid, believable points, I have chosen to strongly disagree for many reasons. I believe college exists so that one may further their education and they may pursue a consistent, well-paying career filled with opportunity and growth. However, when one doesn't attend college they are limiting their job opportunities. Even though a blue collar job may pay well, there is usually not much opportunity for growth. With a degree in our American society, your economic stand point is more respected as you portray consistent work ethic and determination. By going to college, I believe you are creating opportunity for yourself and allowing yourself to evolve into a well-rounded, hard-working individual. Another disagreement
I have is with Bird’s statement “My unnerving conclusion is that students are sad because they are not needed” (Bird 219). I firmly disagree with this standpoint because this is simply her personal opinion and I do not believe that most students are sad because they do not feel
“needed”. As a college student, I know the only reasons I may be sad from college is because I am literally always tired or because I have not yet transferred to a university. So despite Bird’s many, many claims that college is a waste of both time and money, I am going to have to continue to disagree because even though I may feel sad from lack of sleep, I still want to obtain a degree. I believe the best investment you can make in life is in yourself and college is doing just that. But despite my many disagreements, I do believe that Bird makes very a convincing argument. Regardless of my personal opinion, a degree might not always result in a well-rounded, hardworking individual. I choose both Staple’s and Rose’s article to support this grey-area standpoint.

Casey !4
Rose believes that one can be both well-rounded and hard-working by simply maintaining a blue collar career. I myself have no objective views on this belief. I believe that some blue collar individuals may in fact work physically harder than the white collar individuals making them just as hardworking and well-rounded. “The shop floor provided what school did not; it was like schooling, he said, a place where you're constantly learning” (Rose 228). This quote supports my agreement with Rose that blue collar jobs can create a different type of hardworking individuals.
However, those with a degree may not even be a hard worker at all. Staples supports my belief in his article regarding grades being given to college students. Although I do not believe grades are not as commonly handed to students as Staples does, I do agree that under certain circumstances students may be given a grade they did not earn. “A Duke University statistics professor, came under heavy fire from both students and faculty when he proposed recalculating the grade point average to give rigorously graded courses greater weight” (Staples 216). This supports my belief that under certain circumstances, often at prestigious universities, the grading system may be altered at an unjust manner. However, I do not agree that this occurs frequently and nationwide. I believe most students work very hard to earn the grades they receive and their GPA is anything but given to them. Although I firmly believe college is not a waste of time and money, I can agree with both Rose and Staples that a degree does not always result in a well-rounded, hardworking individual.
Despite the many hard-workers that may be currently attending college, I agree with Bird on her questioning as to the real reason they are attending and working so hard. Even though I believe the hard work eventually evolves into the individuals personal desire to pursue a career, the original motivation may be rooted somewhere else. Since I do not agree with a large

Casey !5 percentage of Bird’s argument, I have chosen a smaller portion of it. “It is difficult to assess how many students are in college reluctantly” (Bird 219) , Bird states as she questions the motives for attendance of college students. I agree with this because from personal experience, most students do not see any other options after high school, so college appears to be the only option for them.
Another motive may be parental or social pressure to pursue a career. This is a minor reluctancy among college students as it is not their own decision to attend college but a result of the influence of others. I do agree with Bird that many students attend college reluctantly. hHowever,
I believe that eventually, if college is truly a place for them, they will develop their own sense of work ethic and determination to accomplish a goal of their own.
With regards to the opinions of Rose, Bird and Staples, I continue to hold my stand point that college is absolutely not a waste of time or money. Although blue collar jobs may be substantial enough for some people, I personally want to create the best opportunity for myself. I want to have a career that allows for both economic and personal growth and following both Bird’s and
Rose’s standpoint will not provide that for me. Bird does create an interesting standpoint but I refuse to agree with it as I am currently in college and plan to complete it. Even though Bird’s argument can be valid under circumstances of unusual success, I believe modern day society requires a degree if one wants a variety of opportunity for themselves. I conclude my argument with a strong disagreement of Bird’s belief that college is a waste of time and money because despite her assertion that it is an expensive, time consuming commitment and the initial intention may be influenced by parents or societal pressures, the student will eventually gain a desire to learn and pursue a career if college is the right path for them.…...

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