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Class Supplement, TOEFL iBT Independent Essay, Is going to college or university less meaningful than before? -Partly rewritten and revised-


Writing Topic:
Some people believe that a college or university diploma has become far less meaningful than before, with ever larger percentages of people receiving higher-levels of education. Others believe that it is a positive development to have increasing numbers of students graduating from college. Discuss these views. Which view do you agree with?

☆Let’s Think
This topic is made up of three parts: a hint, a direction, and a question. The hint introduces two opposite views about the increase of the number of university students. Then you are directed to discuss these two views and asked which view you share. The first thing to do to answer this question is to read these views carefully and analyze them.

The first view is negative about increasing numbers of university students. It says that a college degree is “far less meaningful” “with ever larger percentages of people receiving higher levels of education.” This reminds you of the phrase, “scarcity value”. This opinion sees a college or university diploma as something like a commodity that has a value in the market. The market is probably the job market in this case. When you apply for a job, having a higher educational background than others is a plus. Fifty years ago, a college or university diploma was a rare qualification and having one was a great advantage in getting a high-paying job, but now, most people in developed countries go to college and there is little advantage in having a bachelor’s degree when you try to find a job.

The second view says that having more college graduates is a positive development. It is probably about the development of society with the increase of the number of highly-educated citizens. What is good about society filled with people with higher-levels of education? What is good about them? They can read and write well. They have a lot of general knowledge and have been trained to think scientifically, which is to think logically and to conclude based on evidences. Many of them also have special knowledge and skills for specific jobs. Developing countries with good leaders spend a lot of money on education because they need human resources to build their countries: engineers, office workers, teachers, and many other professions that require at least a college degree. This is fundamentally true to developed countries, too. Increasing numbers of college graduates indicates prosperity.

Both views have a point. The difference between them might be the values. In the first view, a bachelor’s degree is a qualification for job-hunting. In the second view, it is seen as a building block of society.

☆Hints for points
♦A college or university diploma has become far less meaningful than before with ever larger percentages of people receiving higher-levels of education. I agree with this view because …
1. having a graduate degree is not much an advantage when you look for a high-paying job anymore.

2. if most people have a bachelor’s degree, having one shows that you are average, not special.

3. the trend automatically requires you to acquire more than the college or university degree to make a head-start in society.

♦I agree with the perspective that it is a positive development to have increasing numbers of students graduating from college because …
1. college or university graduates make resourceful workers for businesses. Modern industrialized society requires workers who can read, write, and create new things well as well as communicating well with others and having general knowledge. College or university graduates meet these needs and some even have special skills that many companies are in need.

2. highly-educated workforce will develop society. Countries that are leading the world in business now like China and Korea spend a lot of money on higher education, while those that are not doing well as before like the United States of America have been decreasing their budget for higher education.

3. geniuses appeared when cultural level of societies were high. With so many problems concerning all human beings such as energy problems and food shortage, we are in dire need of not only more scientists but also politicians who can understand the nature of the problem and details of the proposed measures to organize and manage projects as efficiently as possible. Statistically, children of college graduates are more likely to go to college. Therefore, the more people go to college, the better our future will be.

4. if most people are highly educated, they can understand what politicians and corporate officials are doing, and can control them. In other words, they can protect democracy. The driving forces of movements, for example, are always students and other highly educated people.
⇔ Counterargument: knowing what’s going on in this world does not require college education. An average 10-year-old can tell that this world is not fair. Moreover, it is those elites, bureaucrats and corporate warriors, that support corrupt government.
⇔ Counter-counterargument: People with good intention who hold good positions in society keep this world safe and sober. There are many people who keep quiet but know well, and do the right thing and protect the weak when necessary.

5. although college education is taken for granted in developed countries, in most countries it is still only for the elite and most of their populations are illiterate. The day when no one will starve to death is far away. If the day comes when most people on the earth go to college, it will be an accomplishment of humankind.

6. knowledge and skills acquired at college will make the person’s everyday life easier and more enjoyable. If the number of individuals who are happy increases, it can be said that it is a good thing.

☆Let’s make the framework of the body of your essay
Try filling in the space in the following form for the framework of the body of an essay which deals with both views before you write your full essay. You can either use this framework or not when you write it. But remember that you are required to discuss both views.

The framework of the body of your essay
【The first paragraph of the body: about the first view in the writing topic】

【The second paragraph of the body: about the second view in the writing topic】

【The third paragraph of the body: about your view】

☆Essay for Ideas and Expressions:
I think the increase of the number of college graduates is good for both society and individuals. It will contribute to the development of society and will enrich personal life.

It is true that the value of college diploma as qualification goes down as more people go to college. Having a bachelor’s degree is no longer an advantage in competition, especially in the job market. Fifty years ago, graduating from college or university was an accomplishment, but now, most people in developed countries go to college and no one makes much of a college degree anymore.

However, it is also true that having higher numbers of college graduates is a positive development. As the education level of a society goes up, so do the living standards of the people. In a developed economy, where most members of the society already enjoy a high standard of living but the economic growth is slow, college or university education seems to be redundant. Many college graduates are doing the job that high school graduates were doing fifty years ago. However, the fact that the same job is done by a person with higher academic background means the society benefits from the well-educated workforce. The job can be done much better or more quickly. Also, if a larger percentage of citizens are well-educated, it will be easier to reach a consensus and implement decisions on issues that require higher levels of knowledge to understand. A group of people can work more effectively when the members know what they are doing and work pro-actively than when told what to do by someone in authority. The more conscious and informed citizens become, the more critical issues they can solve by themselves. This is especially important when they have a delinquent government. Intelligent citizens won’t let it deceive them and ruin their lives.

At the same time, more individuals having the luxury of spending four years in learning something special means more people given chances to make their lives more fulfilling. At university, people are trained to think in scientific ways, see things from multiple perspectives, and keep themselves informed and inspired even after graduation. The increasing numbers of housewives with college diplomas means more informed mothers and more women who know more ways to enjoy life.

I personally consider it intrinsically good that more people are given chances to have contact with the best in education. Experiences in highly academic circumstances will light up each individual’s life and collectively this is good for society. Therefore, I believe that it is a positive development that should be celebrated to have more college graduates.

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