Jeffrey Davis

ENG 131.02

Professor Lucas

7 May 2014

Is College failing the American College Student

Many Americans fresh out of high school, make the major decision to go to college after high school. with the price of a college education in America on the constant rise ideally the quality of education would also be on the rise. many would agree that the quality of eduction is not on the rise, and they would also agree that it is a real problem for the American college student. some of the main problems with the American college system is it is overpriced, declining quality of education, and ways to improve the college system.

With tuition more than doubling in a generation at both public and private colleges, the question is more prevalent than ever, are students paying to much for a sub par education?(Hacker And Dreifus, p. 179) while prices for college is increasing, the quality of the education obtained is not improving, or even in some cases getting worse. due to higher prices many students are dropping out of college, and just finding a minimum wage job, because they are not able to afford college even after all of their scholarships, grants, and loans. When students or their parents are having to dish out a few thousand dollars every semester of their college career it gets very tiring and very expensive very quickly. Lets say your tuition is $40,000 a year, but you are only approved for $38,000 a year in financial aid, if you go for the traditional eight semesters, you are dishing out $12,000 before you even graduate. Then you will also have to pay back all of the loans that you took out in your financial aid, which would be approximately $10,000 to $15,000. Those bills will start coming in the mail anywhere from three months to six months after you graduate, whether you find a job or not. All of this, is why many people avoid colleges.

While college tuition has continued to increase, the quality of education offered at many colleges, and universities across the United States, has begun to decline. Many public universities have class sizes of 200 and up. There is not very many people who can actually learn in that type of environment. If colleges, were able to keep smaller classes, then it would change a lot of things in the American education system. When a professor is expected to stand in front of 200 students, and teach them for example, Shakespeare, it is not going to be interesting to the students, but you take that same professor, and put them in a class with maybe 20 to 25 students with the same Shakespeare play the class size of 20 to 25 students is going to have a deeper understanding of the play. Whenever a professor is given a smaller class size they are able to experiment more, and find ways to help the students understand the material better. The professor will actually get to know the students, and will be able to answer specific questions, instead of answering questions that the professor thinks people may have. Additionally as Matt Groening points out in his cartoon “The 9 Types of College Teachers” there are many problems with the stereotypical college professor. ImageFrom the Steady Droner to the Nice Little Nobody, many people would agree these are the types of professors you will see in college. This is a problem, because if all professors do exactly one of these, and doesn’t attempt to step out of the box every once and a while they are not able to experiment and see what is going to work better for the students in the long run.

While many colleges have the problems listed below there are quite a few colleges, that have been striving despite having to increase tuition. When they increase tuition they are actually improving the eduction of their students. Many of these schools have some sort of a Liberal Arts curriculum, which means the students have certain classes they have to take from all sorts of different categories. These schools have more success, because they are looking to improve the person, not just pump out another graduate for numbers. When students are forced to take courses in subjects that they don’t particularly like, they are more able to do tasks that they wouldn’t normally do in their line of work after college. You are not always going to be doing what you came to college to learn. Most college graduates are going to start at the bottom of the totem pole in a company. When you are at the bottom of the totem pole you are not going to be doing what you hope to do for the rest of your life. You are going to get all the jobs that nobody else likes to do. With a liberal arts education you are forced to take classes you don’t want to take, you have to take this many English classes, and a foreign language. These might seem like useless things depending on your major, but many with the two examples listed above English classes teach you how to write a resume, and foreign language classes teaches you to be more open to things that are not in your comfort zone.

While the American college system seems to be currently failing majority of America’s college students, there is still hope for the youth of America.

Works Cited


Groening, Matt. “Lesson 18: The 9 types of College Teachers.” School is Hell. New York: Pantheon, 1987, Plashing Vole., 25 Oct. 2012, Web. 12 Feb. 2014

Hacker, Andrew, and Claudia Dreifus. “Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission.” Trans. Array They Say I Say, The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. . 2nd Edition. New York: Norton, 2014. 179-189.Print

Murray, Charles. “Are Too Many People Going To College?.” Trans. Array They Say I Say, The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. . 2nd Edition. New York: Norton, 2014. 222-242. Print.


Character Guide

Gerald Graff: A co-author of “They Say, I Say” and a professor of English and education at

the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was the 2008 President of the Modern Language

Association, a U.S.-based professional association of scholars and teachers of English and other

languages. This essay is adapted from his 2003 book, Clueless in Academe: How Schooling

Obscures the Life of the Mind.

Steven Johnson: An author of seven books, and essays including “Watching TV makes you

Smarter.” He was a contributor and editor for many works including Wired. Johnson writes a

monthly column for Discover, and teaches journalism at New York University. “Watching TV

Makes You Smarter,” was first published in New York Times Magazine.

Antonia Peacocke: A student at Harvard University majoring in philosophy. She was born in

London, and when she turned 10 she moved to New York (the same day that the fourth Harry

Potter book came out). She has always loved writing and worked as a copy editor and columnist

for her high school newspaper. She received the Catherine Fairfax MacRae Prize for Excellence

in both English and Mathematics. She is also a National Merit Scholar.

Dana Stevens: A movie critic for Slate who has also written for well-known companies such as

the New York Times, Bookforum and, the Atlantic. She received her Ph.D. from University of

California at Berkeley in comparative literature and published “Thinking Outside of the Idiot

Box” on Slate, as a direct response to Steven Johnson’s “Watching TV Makes You Smarter”


Jason Zinser: A teacher at the University of North Florida. He received a Ph. D. in philosophy

in 2007 from Florida State University, and he researches both evolutionary biology and

environmental philosophies. This essay first appeared in The Daily Show and Philosophy:

Moments of Zen in the Art of Fake News (2007), edited by Jason Holt.

Scene : The new Family Guy movie has just came out. All of the cast members have decided to

meet up and go to the movie together. They are all riding to the movie when a debate breaks out.

Dana Stevens: Johnson, You claim that television is a great tool to enhance the brain. Personally,

I think your comment is baloney! “Not unlike the graphically mesmerizing plot diagram you

provide of “any episode” of Starsky and Hutch as a foil for the far fancier grid representing The

Sopranos. But, I don’t know that I have a lot more sympathy for the wet-blanket Puritanism of

the anti-TV crowd” (296).

Steven Johnson: What most of you don’t realize is that “the usual counterargument here is that

what media have lost in moral clarity, they have gained in realism. The real world doesn’t come

in nicely packaged public-service announcements, and we’re better off with entertainment like

The Sopranos that reflects our fallen state with all its ethical ambiguity” (279).

DS: “There couldn’t be a better time to test Steven Johnson’s theory than National TV Turnoff

Week- just turn the set off till Sunday and see if you get any dumber. I’d participate in the

experiment myself, but in my case, watching television is definitely a smart thing to do- I get

paid for it.” (298).

SJ: If your job is to literally watch television, you would understand that turning off the set is

not the only way to “evaluate whether our television shows or video games are having a positive

impact. Just as important— if not more important—is the kind of thinking you have to do to

make sense of a cultural experience. That is where the Sleeper Curve becomes visible” (279-80).

Gerald Graff: Real intellectuals turn any subject, however lightweight it may seem, into grist for

their mill through the thoughtful questions they bring to it, whereas a dullard will find a way to

drain the interest out of the richest subject” (381).

Antonia Peacocke: “’Sure these ‘screenagers’ might sit back and watch a program now and again’

Rushkoff explains, ‘but they do so voluntarily, and with full knowledge of their complicity.

It is not an involuntary surrender’ In his opinion, our critical eyes and our unwillingness to be

programmed by the programmers make for an entirely new relationship with the shows we


DS: “Wait a minute- isn’t a fictional program’s connection to real-life political events like torture

and racial profiling one of the “social relationships” we should be paying attention to? 24 is the

perfect example of a TV show that challenges its audience’s cognitive faculties with intricate

plotlines and rapid-fire information while actively discouraging them from thinking too much

about the vigilante ethic it portrays. It’s really good at teaching you to think…about future

episode of 24” (296).

Jason Zinser: We need to examine the function of television for our society, and we can

examine past situations for example, “Journalists like Tom Fenton have blamed the media for

failing to anticipate the pre-9/11 threat posed by terrorism. By reducing the number of foreign

correspondents and cutting down on hard news stories, real foreign policy issues had been more

or less remaindered to the periphery of the news. Having a population concerned and informed

about relevant facts and issues helps guide the future course of the country” (365).

SJ: Shows like 24 allow the viewers to view “the media as a kind of a cognitive workout, not

a series of life lessons” (279) as you claim they do. Watching television helps to exercise your

brain by allowing you to critically think about possible scenarios, or if we are talking about

sports, to repeat plays that you may have learned prior to watching the game.

AP: “I believe that Family Guy has its intelligent points, and some of its seemingly ‘coarse’

scenes offer have hidden merit.”(308)

JZ: What we need to realize is that, “Like most things, The Daily Show isn’t all good or all bad.

The question isn’t whether Jon Stewart or the show’s producers and writers are morally corrupt

people, but whether or not fake news is, on the whole, beneficial or damaging to society” (364).

GG: “I see now that I in the interminable analysis of sports, teams, movies, and toughness that

my friends and I engaged in- a type of analysis, needless to say, that the real toughs would never

have stopped to- I was already betraying an allegiance to the egghead world. I was practicing

being an intellectual before I know that was what I wanted to be” (383).

JZ: It’s important to question the validity of the material and opinions shared on the show,

because, “Cana show unburdened by objectivity” be expected to communicate news to the public

accurately and responsibly? Can a program concerned with getting ratings through comedy be

expected to provide objective and responsible coverage of world events? Of course ‘deception’

means ‘the intentional imparting of false information to another’ (366).

GG: “Everyone knows some young person who is impressively “street smart” but does poorly in

school. What a waste, we think, that one who is so intelligent about so many things in life seems

unable to apply that intelligence to academic work” (380).

Work cited

Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves That Matter in

Academic Writings: With Readings. 2nd

Durst. New York: Norton, 2012.382-87.Print.

Johnson, Steven. “Watching TV Makes You Smarter.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves That

Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2

Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 277-94. Print.

ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel


Peacocke, Antonia. “Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious.”

“They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writings: With Readings.2nd

Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012.299-311. Print.

Stevens, Dana. “Thinking Outside of the Idiot Box.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves in Academic

Writings: With Readings.2nd

York: Norton, 2012.295-98.Print.

Zinser, Jason. “The Good, the Bad, and the Daily Show.” “They Say/I Say”: The Moves in

Academic Writings: With Readings. 2

Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 363-78. Print.

ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New


ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel



For the first paper of the semester I chose to write about if the American college system is failing the average American college student.

The Bibliography that follows includes a cartoon by Matt Groening, and two academic essays from our class readings.

This topic is important to me as I am a first year college student. I am also a first generation college student,


Annotated Bibliography

Groening, Matt. “Lesson 18: The 9 Types of College Teachers.” School is Hell. New York:download

Pantheon, 1987, Plashing Vole., 25 Oct. 2012, Web. 12 Feb.



This is a comic that show what many people consider to be the stereotypical types of professors in college. Although it is a satirical cartoon, it is seen to be very true about every type of professor from the steady droner to the nice little nobody. The cartoon gives an example of them teaching, and then lists the advantages, drawbacks, and some warnings for each type of college professor.

Matt Groening is a cartoonist and the creator of The Simpsons, which became the longest-running entertainment series in primetime television in 2009.


Hacker, Andrew, and Claudia Dreifus. “Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission.”

Trans. Array They Say I Say, The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. . 2nd Edition. New York: Norton, 2014. 179-189. Print


In this essay Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus talk about how the American college student may be paying to much for the education we are receiving. It is discussed in the essay that college students are not getting the finest education, and because of that they just end up wasting their money by taking the time to go to college. They make a call to arms in this essay to stand up to the people that are putting the college students education at risk such as professors, and college administrations.

Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus are the authors of Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids. Hacker is professor emeritus of political science at Queens College in New York. Dreifus teaches international affairs and media at Columbia University, and write the “Conversation wit…” column for the Science section of the New York Times.

Murray, Charles. “Are Too Many People Going To College?.” Trans. Array They Say I Say, The

Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. . 2nd Edition. New York: Norton, 2014. 222-242. Print.


In this essay Charles Murray talks about how college education in the United States is failing the American college student, because only the most intellectual elite get to have a liberal arts education. He is not against more people going to college, but is for more people going to a liberal arts college. He discusses the idea that universities are not meant to make someone an expert in a field, but that universities are to make “capable and cultivated human beings.”

Charles Murray works at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington D.C. He is the coauthor, with Richard Herrnstein, of The Bell Curve(1994).