In his essay, "Why Colleges Shower Their Students With A’s,” Staples claims that student grades are increasing for the wrong reasons, causing college degrees to become meaningless. Staples provides evidence that average grades have increased significantly over the last several decades, but claims that it is not because students are working harder. The real explanation for grade inflation, he argues, is the effect of grades on both students and their professors. Teachers give more A’s to receive better evaluations and increase job security. Students give more importance to their grades as a result of the rapidly increasing cost of a college education. Staples argues that modern students want a less-rigorous education, demonstrated by the popularity of notoriously easier for-profit universities. Meanwhile, grade inflation is devaluing college degrees. The solution, Staples claims, is to give greater weight to STEM courses and less to humanities, insinuating that math and science classes are more difficult simply because of their subject matter. He states, unsurprisingly, that this plan has been largely unsuccessful, and paints humanities professors and student governments as the villains in the student addiction to “counterfeit excellence.”
Leon Botstein, “Let Teenagers Try Adulthood”
In his essay, “Let Teenagers Try Adulthood,” Botstein argues that the American high school system does not prepare students for the adult world and should be replaced. He claims that high school is harmful for teenagers for a number of reasons. Team sports are prioritized by students as well as the community and school faculty. High school teachers, unlike college profes...
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... to a poignant, provocative one, juxtaposing the culture of high school with that of the adult world. By straightforwardly stating the differences, Botstein completes the exposition of high school’s flaws.
He ends his description of the flaws of high school with the example of the Littleton shootings as the “so-what.” He uses the Littleton killers, who “felt trapped in the artificiality of the high school world” as pathos, to scare the reader into understanding the significance of high school’s failings.
In the conclusion of “Let Teenagers Try Adulthood,” Botstein again returns to short, direct sentences when making a point: “Secondary education must be rethought.” He uses straightforward, simple language in order to show that while the problem may be complex, the solution is not. By avoiding pretentious language, Botstein makes his argument more effective.
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