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Jordan Lanham

Professor Lyra Hillard


ENGL 101
23 Sept. 2015
Topic Analysis: Free College?
PART 2:
Mason, Elisabeth. "College for All: Democratic Safeguard, Economic Necessity." The
Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.
Rhetorical Context Questions:
1. This article is an example of an op-ed. It was posted to The Blog, which
is a subsection of the Huffington Post that allows contributors to more
easily express their opinions rather than remaining unbiased. Due to this,
the author is not afraid to pick a side on the issue and critique arguments
coming from the opposite side.
2. Elisabeth Mason is the author. She is the CEO and co-founder of Single
Stop USA, which helps people attain higher education.
3. Shes writing for everyday Americans, especially those that will be
attending college in the future, or have kids that will. However, since free
college will be paid by taxes, it will affect taxpayers, too.
4. The motivation behind this appears to primarily be the fact that its an
ongoing problem. However, she also mentions Obamas plan to make two
years of community college free, meaning that she also couldve recently
been informed about that, prompting her to write this article.
5. The authors main purpose is advocacy. This is made clear by the fact that
she supports free college.

6. The publication is written in an essay format, but on a site with many


blogs. This allows her to structure her essay to where she can primarily
focus on pushing forward the issue shes primarily focused on (making
college free), without the need to continuously address the other side
even though she does anyway. The article begins by correlating the history
of high school to whats occurring in college right now. She mentions that
high school used to cost money too, but once it was made free we had
much higher literacy rates. However, she doesnt just present an argument
here, but also gives the reader a perspective that they may have not had
before. The rest of the article bounces between varying arguments and also
incorporates some facts, which allows her to strengthen these arguments
even more.
7. The author does the author does appear to see both sides of the argument,
at least a little. However, she doesnt spend enough time addressing the
other side. Her arguments would be stronger if she presented the opposing
view before presenting each of her own arguments, rather than just a few.
The author doesnt even mention how it will be a tax burden, but instead
only mentions all of the benefits, yet the apparent tax burden is the main
consequence that is keeping many people from supporting making college
free.
Main Claim: College is becoming the new high school. You now need a college
degree to be successful, and making college free is a good first step to removing
the barriers that prohibit equal opportunity of being successful.
1. In the near future, 2/3 of jobs will require a college degree.

2. We need more people with higher education in the work force, since the
work force demands it.
3. We need to make sure that we provide all Americans with equal
opportunity and economic involvement in maintaining a stable job.
4. Part-time community college students should also get their tuition covered
since they often can only attend part-time because they must help to
provide for their families.
Martin, James, and James E. Samels. "Why Tuition-Free Community College Is a Bad
Idea." University Business May 2015: n. pag. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
Rhetorical Context Questions:
1. This article is an example of an op-ed. It was posted to University
Business, which is a magazine website devoted to college-related news,
especially if it involves economics. This genre allows for the authors to
state their opinions without addressing the other side, even though
addressing the other side (which they do, primarily to mock) can make
their arguments stronger.
2. There are two authors: James Martin and James E. Samels. They are the
authors of The Provosts Handbook: The Role of the Chief Academic
Officer, which is a book about the chief academic officers role and how
its evolved over the years. Martin is now an English professor, while
Samels is the CEO of The Education Alliance which is how each is
affiliated with this issue.
3. It appears that the authors are writing for everybody, but especially trying
to appeal to taxpayers. Their concluding line, because there are no free

lunches, makes it clear that they are primarily trying to influence


taxpayers who dont/wont have to pay for college.
4. There is no specific reason addressed within the article as to what
prompted the authors to write the article. However, given the time it was
written, it was likely in response to Obama announcing his plan to make
community college free.
5. The authors purpose is strong advocacy. Its clear from the way that they
make their arguments that they wish to denounce the opposing view and
promote their own.
6. The online magazine appears to be primarily invested in economic issues
involving college. Out of the many articles I skimmed, it appeared that all
wanted less free lunches in education, so it would appear the magazine
is rather conservative. For this reason, the authors had the opportunity
and took it to promote their own position and mock the alternative (free
college). The structure primarily involved presenting an argument, then
attempting to use logic to back it up. Causal predictions were also
mentioned, although very few statistics (asides from the opening fact that
7.7 million Americans go to community college) were used.
7. The authors scopes were extremely narrow. Martin, as a teacher, may
experience a budget cut with less students attending his high-tuition
college (Mount Ida College). This bias is apparent through the article, but
perhaps its this personal affiliation (more than any other authors Ive read
so far on the topic) that makes him extremely passionate to the point
where he mocks the other side by saying stuff like rather than spreading
free tuition resources like peanut butter. However, the article was written

extremely well and the vocabulary selection was great, probably since
Martin is an English professor.
Main Claim: Free community college will result in an overall loss in the quality of
community college.
1. Community Colleges wont receive more money from the government to
accommodate this new wave of students that will be attending for free,
which will lead to a decrease in how much professors are paid.
2. This new tuition-free investment can instead be spent on bettering the
current community college programs and getting students college-ready;
this more strategic investment will help improve overall graduation
rates.
3. By making community college free, a two-year degree will no longer be as
valuable.
4. Theres no such thing as a free lunch.

PART 3:

In the articles College for All: Democratic Safeguard, Economic Necessity and
Why Tuition-Free Community College Is a Bad Idea, Single Stop USA CEO Elisabeth
Mason, professor James Martin, and James E. Samels (CEO of The Education Alliance)
contemplate free community college. Elisabeth Mason advocates for free community
college, whereas Martin and Samels agree that free community college can be
detrimental. The main argument from Mason is that college is becoming the new high
school. You now need a college degree to be successful, and making college free is a
good first step to removing the barriers that prohibit equal opportunity of being

successful. Martin and Samels strongly believe that free community college will result in
an overall loss in the quality of community college.
Elisabeth Mason has spent her entire life volunteering and helping people. Hence,
its no surprise that she would support free community college. She argues that college is
becoming extremely valuable and essential for anyone who wants a decent-paying job, or
even any job at all. She supports this claim by stating that in the near future, 2/3 of all
jobs will require some sort of college degree. However, Mason doesnt just argue that
college is essential for personal gain, but also for societys. According to Mason, greater
education is now demanded by the work force since skilled jobs are diminishing and
moving overseas, or even becoming automated. We need to provide all Americans with
equal opportunity and economic involvement in maintaining a stable job. Since college is
being primarily reserved by only those that can afford it, Mason believes making
community college free will bring about more equality giving the opportunity to
anyone who wishes to take it. The final argument Mason makes is that part-time
community college students also deserve free college since they often only go part-time
since they need to help support the family.
However, Mason doesnt do a great job in discrediting the opposing view one
that James Martin and James E. Samels hold dearly. Both being involved in higher
education, the issue of free college would affect them tremendously. They believe that
community colleges arent funded enough to support a new wave of students that will try
to take advantage of the free tuition. By not increasing the money the government
provides for them, the institutions will diminish in quality. They argue that this money
can instead be spent on bettering the already-existing community colleges and programs,

or getting students more college-ready. This more strategic investment will, according
to them, help improve the overall college graduation rate. However, they still
acknowledge that the number of graduates will increase if college is made free (simply
due to a greater pool of students), but counter this argument by stating that free
community college will lessen the value of a two-year degree anyways. Martin and
Samels conclude by stating that theres simply no such thing as a free lunch, implying
that the new burden will ultimately be on the taxpayers.
On one hand, Mason makes a great point that a college degree is becoming a
necessity and making it free will bring about true equality; however, on the other hand,
Martin and Samels make a great point that making college free will only lessen the value
of a degree anyways. Ultimately, I think Im leaning towards siding with Mason, though.
Although free community college will make a two-year degree less valuable, is that a bad
thing? Raising the expectations for education in the United States just doesnt strike me
as a horrible thing, in fact, quite the opposite. I think making a two-year degree the new
high school diploma is a great idea. Furthermore, Martin and Samels dont address any
arguments involving the lower class. The point of free college appears to be to help many
people who otherwise cant afford it, but Martin and Samels pretty much ignore this
significant fact and instead center all of their arguments around hypothetical situations
that may happen in the future. These straw-man arguments with no evidence to support
these claims (just speculation) is one of the main reasons I side with Mason, who at least
provided some facts to support her claim. The one really good point Martin and Samels
make is about how theres no free lunch something Martin doesnt even address. My
response to this is that its undeniably true. However, proper higher education thats

affordable to everyone is essential to any developed country that wants to lead the way
into the coming decades, where technologys influence is only growing exponentially. I
think its better to spend our lunch money on promoting the education of students rather
than other things that wont have nearly the lasting effect. Ultimately, even though both
articles made good points, it came down to a lack of statistics and mere speculation on
Martin and Samels behalf that leads me to support free community college.

Works Cited:
Martin, James, and James E. Samels. "Why Tuition-Free Community College Is a Bad
Idea." University Business May 2015: n. pag. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
Mason, Elisabeth. "College for All: Democratic Safeguard, Economic Necessity." The
Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.