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Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, Age restriction on university study


☆Writing Topic
Consider the following statement. People of all ages, including middle-aged and elderly people, can benefit from studying at university, and there should be no age restrictions on university study. Do you agree or disagree with this idea?

Although the topic says, “People of all ages,” the focus is on senior citizens, not the rare geniuses who take university courses at the age of nine, for whom society is doing favor. Nor do you have to write about young people because they are the people you usually think of when you picture university students and therefore they cannot be subject to age restrictions.

☆Let’s think
In aging society, the number of healthy and active seniors is increasing. Many of them are not satisfied with the conventional retirement life. They want to keep improving themselves and contribute to the society. Going to university is a choice that these people make when they give their answer to their plan for the second half of life. At the same time, it is usually the young that go to school because they need to equip themselves for the future. Now, is it OK for the elderly to benefit from attending university which is subsidized by tax money?

☆Ideas and expressions
1. As society ages, senior citizens’ demand for university education for their second career or a place for self-development increases.
2. People who missed opportunities to get higher education when young for various reasons such as work or child-rearing and are ready to learn after retirement will be happy to take advantage of programs available to them.
3. Although young students, whose brains are young, are more advantaged in learning, learning takes more than biological factors. Other factors such as curiosity, natural inclination, aspiration, determination, or sense of responsibility are often stronger drives for leaning, and motivation could fall upon one at any point of one’s life.
4. As a matter of fact, universities usually do not deny people of middle age or older. Many senior citizens have actually been studying among young students and there have been no reports of problems for that.
5. Now that e-learning is in place and many universities have e-learning courses, the environment is more favorable for senior citizens to get degrees.
6. The primary purpose of university is the pure pursuit and accumulation of knowledge. In this sense, whoever wants to learn something can benefit from participating in it, for learning is a joy and learning in a good environment will give one happiness.
7. Studies at universities are also done for the profit of society. People who start learning after turning fifty could contribute to research and development in different ways from young students do mainly drawing on their experience and time. Making contribution to society can give them confidence and reason for carrying on.
8. Universities are also for producing well-educated workforce. If the goal is practical, senior citizens can complete training for their second career of their interest. This is good for those who love to work or need to work.

☆One-paragraph essay = the framework of the full essay
Now let’s write a one-paragraph essay before writing a full essay. You could use each sentence as the main idea (topic sentence) of each paragraph of your full essay.
Sample one-paragraph essay:
【Main Idea】 I find no problem in keeping university open to people of all ages because age restrictions on university study makes no sense.
【Reason 1】 University should be open to whoever wants to learn.
【Reason 2】 Aging society welcomes no age restriction on university education.
【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】 It is true that more tax money is necessary to accommodate the elderly but they will pay it back through their tuitions.
【Conclusion】There should be no age restrictions on university education when there is no problem in it.

Note: A counterargument is an expected rebuttal. While writing an essay, sometimes you ask yourself, “Well, but what about this case? My point is vulnerable to this case.” Then this “case” is the counterargument. Hitting a counterargument is a chance to grade up your essay because you have found an untied end of a rope (your logic). If you can tie it well, you can confirm your point, making your essay more persuasive. Thus, taking up a counterargument when necessary is important to get a higher score. You can deal with a counterargument in an appropriate part of a paragraph or use a whole paragraph to deal with it

Your one-paragraph essay:
【Main Idea】

【Reason 1】

【Reason 2】

【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】


☆Paragraph development
【Main Idea】 Aging society supports no age restriction on university education.
【Explanation】 As the number of seniors increases, their demand for higher education increases.
【Detail / Example】 Society has clearly been reacting to this change.
【More Specific Detail / Example】 An 80-year-old college graduate is so common now that he seldom makes news anymore.
【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】Some might say that people should do what is appropriate for their age and seniors should enjoy leisure time with their families and friends, but lifestyle changes as society changes. If the supply of comic books for adults increases as more adults enjoy them, why is it unnatural for university to accept seniors who are eager to learn?
【Conclusion】 Keeping university open to people of all ages is a natural response to public demand.

Your paragraph development: Choose one of the reasons you have come up with, make it the main idea, and develop it using the following form. As this is a sketch of a part of your real essay, use simple words and sentences and focus on the logic and ideas.
【Main Idea】


【Detail / Example】

【More Specific Detail / Example】

【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】


☆To increase the volume of your essay, find the shortest paragraph and …
1) develop or describe the main idea well: If a paragraph has only one or two sentences, chances are that you have not developed or described well enough. Make sure that there is no gap in logic between two sentences and make examples as specific as possible using names and numbers.
2) develop or describe each sentence well: A statement usually has some exception or needs some condition or concession. Look for a sentence that you can add a reason, condition, concession, or any other additional information, and add “except …”, “as long as …”, “although …”, etc.
3) describe words well: Which of the following sentences gives a clear picture of someone’s pet?
A) I have a pet. B) I have a cute cat. C) I have a little fluffy kitten. With two adjectives and a specific noun, Sentence C) depicts an adorable pet well and it happens to be the longest of the three. Also, use transitions such as Fist, Also, Moreover, Finally, or Therefore, when necessary.
4) discuss other choices: Even if the Writing Topic does not say, “Discuss the two views” or “Compare and contrast the choices,” you can write about other choices. Doing so will make your essay more convincing and longer. Make sure that you do not digress.
5) take up counterarguments if necessary: While you are writing, sometimes a counterargument, “Well, but what about this case?” comes up to your mind. Then it is better not to ignore it but take it up and give a counter-counter-argument or two. By doing so, you can confirm your argument. If you can do it well, you will get a high score.

The key to remember is to try to put what you want to say into words as accurately as you can. Then you cannot help adding some more words and sentences, and some more… In the end, your essay will have many words.


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