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GRE Issue 54: In Order To Become Well-rounded Individuals - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt “In order to become well-rounded individuals, all college students should be required to take courses in which they read poetry, novels, mythology, and other types of imaginative literature. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.”
The statement claims that students should be required to take courses in which they can read various types of literature in order to become well-rounded individuals. It is true that reading poetry, novels or other kinds of literature is beneficial to students’ mind and imagination, which might cultivate well-rounded individuals. However, from my perspective, there is no need to make all college students attend these courses. Forcing college students to take part in such courses is likely to have adverse effects since not all students are interested in reading these literature works.
Reading imaginative literature has some positive influence on students’ minds. With imaginative literature, students can obtain some knowledge and thoughts they can hardly get from reality. They can also cultivate their minds as well as letting their imagination soar. For instance, by reading Walden, students are likely to appreciate the beauty of nature and share the tranquility and pleasure the author once had; by reading Nineteen Eighty-Four, students would understand freedom is of very great importance and thus be willing to fight for democracy; by reading Greek mythology, students could experience different lives of heroes. Therefore, through attending courses in which they can touch diverse books, college students are more likely to have a positive attitude toward life and develop right values. Also, reading books not only helps them think deeply but also inspires their imagination. All of these desirable qualities are essential for a well-rounded individual.
However, letting all college students participate in such courses is a little bit unrealistic and unnecessary. Not every student likes reading imaginative literature. Demanding students to take this course might cause adverse results. After all, interest is the best teacher for every student. Students who are interested in other fields may become very bored during class and pay little attention to what they read and what the teacher says. Due to this fact, the aim of making students become well rounded could hardly be achieved.
In addition, for the sake of cultivating well-rounded individuals, taking courses in which students read various books is not the only way since other means can also help students improve imagination, set right values or hone critical thinking ability. For instance, students attending courses in which they can learn dance, painting or sculpture are also expected to become well-rounded students since these courses are very similar to literature courses in some aspects. Therefore, universities need not require all college students to take literature courses.
In conclusion, if students are very interested in reading, attending these courses may benefit them since reading can teach students a lot, helping them have a positive attitude toward life. In contrast, students who are not fond of reading can hardly become well rounded, even though they attend these courses. Actually, the recommendation mentioned above is not the only way to develop all-rounded individuals. Other courses have the same effects on students who like them.
Your final, and in my view best, argument is that there might be other courses that one could take to help one become a well-rounded person. I think that is the most complete argument in the essay, although even when you make that argument, you seem to accept the implicit assumption about the purpose of college in the statement. You are not obliged to do that. You could argue for instance that the purpose of college is not to develop well-rounded individuals, but rather individuals with specialized knowledge. You could argue that the purpose of secondary schools is to produce well-rounded individuals, or that students can become well-rounded without the need to have their well-roundedness shaped by their college education.
You also argue that students may not be interested in courses in imaginative literature and that requiring them to do so might have adverse effects. The merit of this argument depends on what you think that adverse effects are. The idea that students “may become bored during class” doesn’t really help you advance your argument. (Who cares if students are bored!?). The better argument, which you arrive at only in your conclusion, is that if the student is not interested, then they won’t benefit from the course.