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GRE Argument Essay; Student Housing At Buckingham College - With A Free Essay Review

The following appeared in a memo from the director of student housing at Buckingham College."To serve the housing needs of our students, Buckingham College should build a number of new dormitories. Buckingham's enrollment is growing and, based on current trends, will double over the next 50 years, thus making existing dormitory space inadequate. Moreover, the average rent for an apartment in our town has risen in recent years. Consequently, students will find it increasingly difficult to afford off-campus housing. Finally, attractive new dormitories would make prospective students more likely to enroll at Buckingham."

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

The Director has stated that a number of new dormitories has to be built as enrollment is growing at Buckingham college and it will be double over the next 50 years. The Director could have given a report of increase in number of students enrolling each year and the total strength of college students that the dormitory accomodates. Even if the college strength doubles, it may not be necessary that all those students would be staying in college dormitories. Students staying with their parents would be coming from their houses. So if the Director had provided a report of how many students out of total college strength stay in college dormitory, it would have helped strengthen the argument.

Secondly, the director has mentioned that the rent of apartments in town has increased recently and that the students would find it difficult to afford to stay there. But director has provided no figures regarding how much the rent has increased and how much a studednt pays per year for staying in college dormitories. If there is only a little difference, two or three students can stay together in an apartment and share the rent. Hence this evidence lacks, which would have again helped in strengthening the argument.

Additionally, Director has mentioned that attractive new dormitories would make prospective students enroll at this college. To strengthen this statement, director could have approached the new students individually and prepared a survey of how many students enroll in a college based on how big and confortable the dormitory is.

Finally, providing a survey of how many studetns are currently stating in the college dormitories and how many new students can be accommodated in the following year could have illustrated the need for building new dormitories. Hence lack of all these evidences weakens the argument and does not make it look like a serious issue to be considered immediately.


You are close to taking the right approach here, but there a couple of problems which I will try to identify by looking at the first two paragraphs.

You mention a report as the first piece of evidence that might be relevant to evaluating the argument. This imagined report would tell us the "increase in [the] number of students enrolling each year" and inform us of the number of "college students that the dormitory accommodates." What the paragraph doesn't do, however, is explain exactly how this evidence would help us evaluate the argument that new dormitories need to be built. You get distracted by an issue (the issue of whether some students can live at home with their parents) that is not entirely relevant to the usefulness of the report, as you define it, for evaluating the argument. That issue of whether students can live at home would be relevant to a discussion of whether there are alternatives to the proposal in the memo, but not to a discussion of how to use the evidence contained in the report to evaluate the proposal. What you need to do is imagine different ways in which such evidence might strengthen or weaken the argument. You cannot just say that such a report "would have helped strengthen the argument," because whether it helps the argument or not would surely depend on the content of the report. So you need a line of thought that links the possible evidence in the report to the usefulness of that evidence for evaluating the argument. It would need to be something as straightforward as this:

"The increase in the number of students is possibly irrelevant (you implicitly argue this point, but you need to do it explicitly). What we really need is evidence that shows whether the _demand_ for on-campus housing is rising. If the demand for on-campus housing is rising, then the argument that the college should build more on-campus housing would be strengthened. If the demand is stable despite increases in student population then, the argument would be weakened."

In your next paragraph, you do think about the possible implications of evidence about the cost of off-campus housing relative to on-campus housing. You say "if there is ... little difference, two or three students can stay together in an apartment." That is true, but the wrong argument to make. The argument you need to make is the one that is directly responsive to the prompt: “If there is little difference, then the argument that off-campus housing will be an unaffordable option for students is weakened.” You conclude this paragraph by saying the evidence is missing, and that it could have strengthened the argument, but that kind of claim is unhelpful because the evidence could also have weakened the argument. So, again, what you need to do is specify a particular hypothetical piece of evidence and explain how it would help to evaluate the argument.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: shree_2012

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