argument essay composition i

Point value: 200 points (It’s the final, after all)

Length requirement: 3-4 pages (1,000-1,200 words)

Due dates:

  • Rough draft: Thursday, April 30, 9 a.m.

Ever since college enrollment exploded in the 1960s with the baby boomer generation, the debate has been raging about whether college, in all or any of its forms, is worth its ever-rising costs. This has become even more of a debate considering that student loan debt has now reached $1.5 trillion total in this country (Forbes), and the average student in Missouri who attended a four-year university (public or private) has $29,226 in debt as of 2018, according to data from the Institute for College Access and Success ( (Links para um site externo.) ).

For this argument essay, then, I am asking you to consider whether college (the traditional four-year bachelor’s degree) is worth its cost. You are attending college, yes, and many of you do intend to transfer, but according to polls and articles, Americans are losing faith in the value of the traditional four-year college degree even as enrollment and costs continue.

NBCNews, “Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees”: (Links para um site externo.)

(Links para um site externo.) (Links para um site externo.)Is earning a traditional four-year degree worth the cost? You will examine and answer this question, based on a combination of your own values and experiences as well as the readings we will cover as a class. You can go with the traditional yes or no, or make a different claim based on your ideas or the career you plan to go into.

In order to support (or counter) your claim, you will be provided with the following readings:

From The Mercury Reader:

  • Caroline Bird, “The Case Against College”
  • Nancy Cantor, “Civic Engagement: The University as Public Good”

Recent online articles about this ongoing debate:

Washington Post, “Is College Still Worth It? Read this Study.” (Links para um site externo.)

Inside Higher Ed, “Is College Worth It? Yes.”

Remember, a well-reasoned argument contains both support for your own claim as well as consideration of other perspectives. How can people argue against your claim, and how do you respond to those arguments?

In its final form, this essay will be 3-4 pages long and use three sources to support your claim. You will have an introduction with a thesis, body paragraphs that both explain your claim as well as counter opposing arguments, and a conclusion that leaves the reader with an effective final thought.

You will earn your grade based on the following:

  • Organization: Clear thesis statement and topic sentences; basic essay structure
  • Development: Incorporation of the three sources equally in support of your own thesis; specific examples from both the three sources as well as your personal experiences
  • Grammar/mechanics: Revision and editing is apparent; text has few, if any spelling or sentence structure errors
  • Source use/MLA style: Appropriate Works Cited page; proper in-text citations/attribution