Have you ever wondered: what is the real significance of higher education in your life? Wonder no more. Higher education now is a must, a permit giving you the privilege of working in this age. Skills, experience, and executive positions are worthless factors if you do not have a higher education. What gave you a pass to the middle class in the past now is unnecessary luggage. Well, even the presence of higher education is not a guarantee in that matter.
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In the article No Degree, and No Way Back to the Middle (2005) by Timothy Egan, the author points out the new realities in which the importance of an educational degree is put above the skills and the experience developed during the years of hard work. Egan narrates the situation of Jeff Martinelli and Mark McClellan, two typical representatives of middle-class America, who reached their social status without the need for a college degree. Nevertheless, that was the case almost thirty years ago. Now, with the factory, in which both Martinelli and McClellan worked, closed after a series of failed management initiatives in 2001, both men found out that the current reality does not appreciate their skills or experience. The absence of a college diploma is a must-have for a climb up to the middle class, and what worked for them in the past does not work anymore, where the pool of jobs available to them is not even close to what they used to have.
Linking the aforementioned article to a college audience, the article should serve as an example of critical analysis, clear support of arguments, and the ability to engage with the reader. In that regard, the present article should be included in our anthology as it corresponds to the standards set for the works included in the introductory courses, in terms of language, clarity, flow, and engagement. Additionally, the content of the article can be used for class discussions as it is directly related to students’ learning outcomes.
The article succeeds in bringing the attention of the readers to the discussed topic and keeps them attached to the subject. It can be seen through the way Egan establishes the title of the article, “No Degree, and No Way Back to the Middle”, the way the attention of the reader is brought to the content. Reading the title, the reader acknowledges right away the main theme of the article but does not reveal the details of the subject.
The same can be seen through the introduction paragraph, where Egan through presenting the topic sentence, “one thing was constant: a factory job that was his ticket to the middle class” (Egan), shows that the rest of the article will be opposing to this statement, and thus the reader are acknowledging that they will be presented with the arguments that support such opposition.
Egan provides the facts clearly without imposing his own view on the subject, clearly distinguishing between the facts and his opinion. The distinction of facts can be seen through clear presentation of direct quotes and paraphrases. As the article is primarily a story of two employees, the main part consists of facts, which Egan managed to vary through paraphrases and quotes, such as the sentence, “the world has changed for people like Mr. Martinelli”, which was followed by a direct quote, “For a guy like me, with no college, it’s become pretty bleak out there” (Egan).
The opinions of the author can be clearly outlined without imposing them on the readers, where his opinion merely explains possible questions the readers might asks. An example can be seen through the introduction of the current situation of the employees, who are “constantly reminded of the one thing that stands out in their résumés: the education that ended with a high school diploma”, which is then followed by an explanation of the potential question of the ground of such situation, stating “it is that the market value of those put out of work, people like Jeff Martinelli, has declined considerably over their lifetimes” (Egan).
The article does not just present raw facts related to the subject, where the presentation of the facts in the article shows the way information can be turned into a story. One example can be seen through the way the author uses the metaphor to clarify their point. This can be seen in comparing the attachment of the employees to the time when they were able to “buy new cars, take decent vacations and enjoy full health care benefits” being “frozen in another age… “(Egan).
Another example can be seen through the provision of supplementary details, which despite not being directly related to the subject can add up a sense of drama, which makes the reader personally engaged with the content. Such details include McClellan’s wife, who “has a rare brain disease “, and details of Martinelli’s childhood, such as “his stomach growling at night as a child, the humiliation of welfare, [and] hauling groceries home through the snow on a little cart” (Egan).
One point that Egan can be blamed for is the reliance on the interviews as the main foundation of the article’s main point. In that regard, the external information that was used to support the article’s argument, and which was not from the interviews did not indicate its source or its credibility. The external information was consisted of the statistical disparity between the earnings of a man in his 50’s with or without a diploma. Nevertheless, it can be seen that the absence of such data would not have changed the tone of the article.
It can be seen that the article has such attributes as the ability to bring the attention of the reader, clear distinction between the facts and author’s opinion, and the presentation of facts as story. Thus, such article should be included in the upcoming anthology.
Egan, Timothy. “No Degree, and No Way Back to the Middle.” New York Times (2005). Web.