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GRE Issue 3: Educational Institutions Have A Responsibility To Dissuade Students - With A Free Essay Review

PROMPT: "Educational institutions have a responsibility to dissuade students from pursuing fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed." Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

The statement claims that educational institutions have a responsibility to dissuade students from pursuing fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed. Some people in favor of this statement argue that educational institutions and professors can inform students of whether they have potential in certain fields, and therefore prevent students from failing in these fields in the future. At first glance, it can be reasonable somehow, but a careful examination would reveal it is rife with flaws and lacks evidence.

First, not a single person can predict whether a student can achieve success in the field he or she is pursuing. Looking back at the argument made by proponents of the statement, I would argue that what potential they mention really is? The answer may be different and even though they have a clear answer, they can hardly assess one’s potential by modern technology and the latest methods. Therefore, although the statement is well intentioned, none of professors and educators have capabilities of appraising students so as to dissuade them from pursuing fields they are bound to fail.

Moreover, when it comes to success, there are many factors, including perseverance, interest, intelligent, temperament and even luck, can contribute to later accomplishments. Thus, educational institutions are unlikely to foresee students’ future. An armless pianist in China, Liu Wei, is an excellent example of this point. Liu Wei lost his both arms at the age of ten during a game of hide. Because he was interested in music, he taught himself to play the piano when he was eighteen years old. He never gave up his hope and practiced as much as he could, even though his relatives and friends persuaded him to abandon this unrealistic dream because of his disability. Consequently, he impressed the audience from all over the world with his performance of the song “You’re Beautiful” by using his feet to play the piano masterly. Liu Wei’s success is largely determined by his perseverance and interest rather than his flexible fingers. Therefore, this example perfectly illustrates that educational institutions have no abilities to persuade students to give up the field they are in the pursuit of.

In contrast to the statement, with rapid changes of technology and science, none can forecast what the future will be like. For instance, if someone decided to create software for the purpose of becoming a millionaire, everyone considered him/her insane in the late nineteenth century. However, as time went by, those who created operating system, especially Bill Gates, has won large amounts of money. So maybe some fields that seem unpromising today are the fields full of promise later.

All the evidence put forward above support an unshakable conclusion that the right way for educational institutions is to encourage students when they are frustrated by hardships instead of dissuading. Apart from that, schools are expected to give students useful instructions in order to help them obtain success at a minimum of expense. Only in these ways, educational institutions fulfill their responsibilities indeed.



Note that the claim you are responding is not that educational institutions are able to predict whether a student is unlikely to succeed in a particular field. That's the claim with which your essay takes issue, but what you really ought to be discussing is whether, in the case that a student is in fact unlikely to succeed, the institution ought to dissuade that student from pursuing her or his course of choice. So I think your main argument is largely beside the point. The real question to be decided here is this: Assuming institutions can identify students unlikely to succeed, should they dissuade them?

Your argument that the point is moot because educational institutions don't have the ability to predict success is, of course, in itself a reasonable argument, but it should probably be phrased in that way ("the question is moot") and it should not be the focus of the essay. And if it is the focus of the essay, you should address possible objections to the argument. Remember that the claim only concerns students deemed "unlikely to succeed." Your argument seems to be based on the idea that institutions cannot judge the future with certainty, but that doesn't mean they cannot tell what is likely to happen.

Two other points, briefly:

1) Try to avoid basing your argument largely on one unique example, and make sure examples demonstrate what you say they demonstrate (i.e., don't claim too much). The example of "Lie Wei" doesn't "perfectly illustrate that educational institutions have no ability" to judge likely outcomes [I expect you meant to say that rather than saying they have no ability to persuade students to give up]. It merely illustrates that predictions are sometimes wrong.

2) Your penultimate paragraph is less relevant that your main argument to an evaluation of the claim.

If you want to take another bash at the essay, think about the actual reasons someone might advance in favor of the claim that educational institutions should dissuade students from pursuing fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed. Think, in other words, about what it costs to educate a student who is unlikely to succeed. What does it cost the student? What does it cost the university and other students? What does it cost society? (You can think of "cost" in terms of money, time, resources, and so on). If a university should not take some responsibility in this matter, who should?

Best, EJ.

Submitted by: hahaxiao66

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