Traci's Essay

Traci Rubin
WRIT 111
Robert Danberg
October 11, 2010

Rhetorical Analysis of The Growing College Gap by Tamara Draut

Tamara Draut makes the claim that attending college is a decision students are faced with nationwide. She mentions how, unfortunately, the cost of tuition increasing each year, making enrolling in a four-year institution nearly exclusive to only the wealthy. Draut does touch on Financial Aid and how it helps the less fortunate but it doesn’t make higher education any more affordable to the masses. Therefore, since the socioeconomic gap continues to grow, security for a middle-class student, which is earning a four-year degree, is now dwindling because of the expense to actually achieve the said degree.

Tamara Draut uses logos by expanding on statistics and percentages. For example, persons with some college experience can expect to earn $1.5 million whereas with an Associate-degree they can expect to earn $1.6 million. Also, persons with a Bachelor’s degree can expect to earn $2.1 million, persons with a Master’s degree can expect to earn $2.5 million and with a Professional degree they can expect to earn $4.4 million. Surprisingly only seventy percent of high school graduates attend college; one would think that with estimated earnings such as those, that more than eighty-five or ninety percent of graduates would go onto higher education. If college were less expensive, I’m sure this percentage would increase drastically.
College was created for the wealthy and for awhile it really was. Throughout the twentieth century, more people were able to afford to go. Now, college is beginning to traditionalize its ways and only be available to the well off, once again. Although the percentage is high, it does not dismiss that minorities and lower-income students are more likely to enroll in a two-year community-college while the more financially stable compete for the spots at elite institutions.
The question at issue is of fact and policy. By fact, the statistics show that the college gap is increasing. By policy, we ask ourselves if the federal government needs to step in or not in order to ease the burden of financial pressure. Tamara Draut believes that college is overpriced and that someone needs to step in and help find ways to shrink the gap so race and socioeconomic statuses do not continue to grow further and further apart. As long as the gap continues to widen, tuition will continue to increase and the ability to afford college will continue to decrease.

College is for the rich and for the people that need to take out loans in order to pay for college are then indebted once they graduate. This fact makes the socioeconomic gap even larger. Tamara Draut argues that our government should step in and instill more legislation in the hopes of getting more low-income and minority students to enroll in four-year universities. With more legislation, the cost for families to send their children to school would decrease and make it more affordable—appealing to the masses. “Today the Pell Grant covers 34 percent of the costs at a four-year college […] over the last decade, both state governments and colleges themselves have shifted their aid dollars toward merit-based awards, rather than need-based”.

“The paradox facing young adults today is meeting the demand for more credentials in a context of declining financial aid support and skyrocketing tuition”. With an audience of college students and middle-class families, this statement is seemingly one involving pathos because they will find this extremely relatable and easy to connect with. Pathos involves addressing the higher and lower emotions of an author’s audience and Tamara Draut does this when she makes the reader recognize the hardships of financial burdens. Draut uses logos and pathos together to appeal to every person of her audience. She involves the statistics of demographics and financial truths while addressing the impact of not being able to afford a form of higher education in order to better oneself.

Economic status is a major factor in the college process. For most people, it is the only factor. Unfortunately, the first question middle-class and low-income families ask about a school is how much it is because of the insane burden that college loans place on the student and their family. With the extremely competitive job market as well as the intense competition between college students, as long as tuition rates continue to increase, the economic classes will grow further and further apart. In the nineteenth century, there were really only two classes: the upper class and the lower class. It seems to me that soon enough, there will no longer be a middle class based on the economy and competition alone. The lower class cannot get ahead because they do not have the money to; especially when college is incredibly expensive. The upper class will continue to get ahead because they have enough money to do with it whatever they desire.

Tamara Draut used logos and pathos to get across to her audience that college tuition rates are on the rise and soon enough only the wealthy will be able to afford going to receive their degrees. Her claim that colleges are now becoming exclusive to only the rich is one that many debate. Even with the various grants, legislation and financial aid opportunities, students and families alike still struggle to muster up enough money to be able to enroll in one’s preferred institution. Hopefully, more legislation will be instilled so that many more students, of minorities and low-income families predominantly, will have a better chance of being able to attend a university.