In his article Colleges Prepare People for Life, Freeman A. Hrabowski provides an argument that challenges the widespread notion that colleges serve no purpose and waste students’ time. Using several rhetorical devices and successfully integrating them, Hrabowski manages to construct a persuasive and visibly unbiased argument to prove his point.
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To begin, Hrabowski inserts an anecdote: he mentions an action where young people wore sweatshirts that said, “college is for suckers” (Hrabowski par. 1-2). Not only does it attract attention and make a reader curious, but it also demonstrates how deep the problem is. It becomes clear that some people consider college a waste of time.
In the article, Hrabowski relies primarily on logos. He mostly appeals to the reason of his reader. At the beginning of his work, he addresses the views of the opposition and presents them in a calm, professional way. He demonstrates that the views of those who say “college is for suckers” have a reason to exists and that people with such views have some point. Similarly, he reports the opinion of those believing that college is useful for employment; it is not really opposition to him, but his view differs from this one. Then, Hrabowski claims that the arguments of both these sides, while being true, do not address the multifaceted reality (Hrabowski par. 2-4).
This strategy clearly appeals to the perception of educated readers who reject black-and-white views and believe that the truth lies in the middle. The author operates facts and statistics: he mentions the number of colleges and universities, discusses their specific features (public or private, two or four-year) and patterns of providing financial aid (Hrabowski par. 6), and cites the opinion of the President on the problems of higher education (Hrabowski par. 7).
Hrabowski also describes the strategy of the government of Maryland regarding colleges to prove his point (Hrabowski par. 8). To explain the problem of the lack of counseling, the author relies on the statistic regarding the presence of college graduates among low-income Americans (Hrabowski par. 9). Overall, the purpose of the article is to present a third view in addition to “colleges are for suckers” and “colleges help to get a job”: a professional view, supported by evidence and logical arguments.
Hrabowski also uses a slight amount of pathos in his article. He talks about “the power of education” and mentions a famous person, whose great example should inspire his readers and make them support his general idea. To enforce the effect, the author uses repetition: “Sondheim’s education helped him get a job. More importantly, it helped him change Maryland” (Hrabowski par. 12). The repetition of the word “helped” strengthens the idea of the usefulness of college.
The argument in the article also depends on ethos. As the President of the UMBC, Hrabowski demonstrates his awareness about the internal problems of colleges, as well as the problems of applicants. The author cites his own experience and that of his colleagues regarding the counseling to prospective students and the college preparatory initiatives of Maryland (Hrabowski par. 8-9). Hrabowski shows his insider knowledge of the educational system of his state and the United States. Even though ethos is not the primary support of his argument, Hrabowski manages to use it effectively to enforce his rhetoric tools that belong to logos.
In conclusion, Hrabowski appeals mainly to the reason for his readers, using facts, statistics, and logical arguments. He supports it with the references to his experience as an educator. The author also uses a slight emotional appeal to make the argument stronger.
Hrabowski, Freeman A. “Colleges Prepare People for Life.” The Baltimore Sun. 2013. The Baltimore Sun. Web.