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Aim High

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Aim High
Allison Reid
Saint Joseph’s College

William Zinsser’s essay, “The Right to Fail,” is a dangerous article for young people to read. It discusses how he believes that children and adolescents have too much pressure on them to succeed by attaining an education. Zinsser goes on to send the message that it is okay to quit and become a free thinker. He states, in the beginning of it, that, “for the young, dropping out is often a way of dropping in” (Zinsser, 1967). I think that to encourage the youth of tomorrow to not pursue an education is irresponsible. I disagree with Zinsser because I have been that “drop out” and it is a hard road to follow. This great country we live in provides everyone the opportunity to succeed. Zinsser is trying to downplay “go get ‘em” attitude that Americans are so well known for. He is encouraging people to be just average. We are nothing without a dream, a goal, or a vision of our future that is better. Zinsser says, “We need mavericks and dissenters and dreamers far more than we need junior vice-presidents, but we paralyze them by insisting that every step be a step up to the next rung of the ladder” (Zinsser, 1967). This statement from Zinsser says to me that it is more important to dream than to do. I think it is important to dream about what you want to do, set your goals, and go out and achieve them. An education is a great way to do this. From the day you start kindergarten, a framework for success is being laid out for you. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity, some great things could pass you by. For example, a friend of mine dropped out of high school, got married, had two kids, and now has to supplement his minimum wage paycheck by selling drugs. He didn’t have the skills he needed to get a good job or start his own company, and now the only goal he has is to get the bills paid this month. The Zinsser essay is giving false hope by making people feel like they will become rich and famous whether they try hard or not. Education is a gift that every American can take full advantage of. Most occupations that guarantee a comfortable life style are usually obtained by getting an education and graduating from college. I do agree with several things that Zinsser says. He says that parents should let their kids know that it’s okay to fail because it’s not the end of the world (Zinsser, 1967). This is true. I know for a fact that just because you drop out, it doesn’t mean that you are a failure or a loser. I am a drop out and I learned from my mistakes. When you make a mistake and fail, it helps you to become a stronger, better-rounded person. It gives you a chance to see what you did wrong, alter your behavior, and not make that same mistake again. I don’t want any young people to read Zinsser’s essay and think that they shouldn’t continue their education because they will be successful without it. It happens for some, but it is very rare. Between my family and friends that quit school and the ones that graduated with a degree, more of the college grads live comfortably. They might not all be rich, but they don’t have the struggles that we drop outs have. I have dealt with the judgment from others because I didn’t graduate. But, what’s worse is telling my kids no when they want new shoes, or brand name food, because we can’t afford it. I want others to learn from my mistake of quitting school and to aim high, instead of dropping out. Zinsser has done a disservice to young people by writing this essay.

Works Cited
Zinsser, W. (1967, October 17). The Right to Fail. Look. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

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