Alex Kern’s Don’t Drop Out: Why There’s Still Value in College Rhetorical Analysis
English and Literature
Submitted By tito1872
I took much pleasure in reading your essay “Don’t Drop Out: Why there’s Still Value in College”. As a student of UC Berkley, you recounted your dilemma as to whether to stay in college or drop-out. You made admirable arguments for leaving school but you also made it very clear that graduating from college was the better option. You tried to inform your readers about why they should stay in college and combat the many temptations of dropping-out of college. You accomplished a great deal of success with your writing strategies, pathos, and ethos but not so much with logos. However, your strong ethos and pathos to some extent made up for the lack of evidence (logos) for your thesis that, it is more beneficial for college students to stay in school than to drop out.
First, after reading your essay, I deciphered that you used the first part of your strong title ‘Don’t Drop Out’ to identify your target audience. This is an effective strategy to identify your audience because the only group of people associated with the word ‘dropout’ are students in general. You went further and inserted the second part of your chosen title, ‘Why There’s Still Value in College’ to specifically identify college students as your target audience. Your title was also effective because the second part of your title introduced the informative genre of your paper and set the informal tone by the use of contractions that ran throughout your essay. Your strong title also drew your audience in because it was simple and easy to understand.
Next, as you (2015) said, “I wasn’t required to leave college for good, I just had to take a single semester off. But I knew myself…” (para. 1) established your own credibility (ethos): I believe many people agreed in this regard because they have been in the same situation. They had to make tremendous changes to their lifestyle to adjust to the ever changing education environment when they returned to college. Many could not handle. Your ethos was dependent on the quote that you are a current college student and you go through the same the struggles any ordinary college student go through. Therefore, no one would question your wisdom and intelligence you used to write this essay. Although you were not an expert on college education, your own education and experience afforded you sufficient credibility to offer a reasonable opinion on the subject. Your story also certainly belonged in both the realm of pathos (feelings of belonging) because your example is a personal testimony and it served as a logical evidence, as well as having emotional appeal.
Furthermore, you wisely delayed your condescension to draw in your target audience in a subtle way. You began your essay by narrating your own dilemma giving the impression that this essay was a personal story. After this, you highlighted some of the pitfalls of the education curriculum. But somewhere in the fourteenth paragraph of the essay, you (2015) went into an ‘attacking’ mode with a hint of condescension by stating that, “you are not Mark Zuckerberg… and that’s ok”. You wanted to point out the fact that it was not guaranteed a college student would succeed like Mark Zuckerberg if he or she dropped out of school. But many of those college students who have dropped out or were thinking about dropping out will find that statement condescending and ultimately make them stop reading. But by using the disarming strategy above, you got your readers hooked on your essay before your condescension began.
In addition, one of my favorite part of the essay was your conclusion. You (2015) stated that, “I’m happy I’m still in college, and I can’t fucking wait for senior year”. You reiterated that neither powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall cause you to dropout from college. By this, you implied your thesis and your ethos. I was really surprised you elected to include the ‘f-word’ in your closing though. This was a very risky move but you pulled it off perfectly. With this, you spoke the language of your target audience to further identify with them.
However, in spite of your strong writing strategies, ethos and pathos, you need a stronger use of logos to make a strong argument here. Your persuasion depended largely on ethos and pathos, connecting to readers, as appeals and using personal anecdote. You (2015) stated in the second paragraph of your essay that you conducted online researches to find out if it was beneficial to stay in college. Though, you did not provide the sources of your research to support your findings. For Aristotle, one of the world’s greatest thinkers and philosophers, logic — or Logos — was the most important of the three persuasive appeals—logos, ethos and pathos. Your insufficient evidence in some way undermined your persuasion. You failed to prove tentatively that there is a correlation between graduating from college and being successful. Credible evidence is needed to establish the cause and effect of attending college. This can be done by adding statistics which shows the correlation.
Overall, it was a well-written essay. I would say it effectively captured the attention of your target audience through the writing strategies and your persuasive appeals—at least you captured mine. I am certain that your essay will aid the next college who is thinking about dropping out make the right decision and stay. Thank you and enjoy your senior year.