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GRE Argument Essay: The Following Is Part Of A Memorandum From The President Of Humana University - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: ‘The following is part of a memorandum from the president of Humana University. "Last year the number of students who enrolled in online degree programs offered by nearby Omni University increased by 50 percent. During the same year, Omni showed a significant decrease from prior years in expenditures for dormitory and classroom space, most likely because instruction in the online programs takes place via the Internet. In contrast, over the past three years, enrollment at Humana University has failed to grow, and the cost of maintaining buildings has increased along with our budget deficit. To address these problems, Humana University will begin immediately to create and actively promote online degree programs like those at Omni. We predict that instituting these online degree programs will help Humana both increase its total enrollment and solve its budget problems." Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the prediction and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the prediction.’
First of all, in the memorandum, the president of Humana University concludes that offering online degree programs can help increase its total enrollment, because nearby Omni University showed that the number of students who enrolled in online degree programs has increased by 50 percent since last year. However, the given statistic is very vague, because if the base is small (if, say, there were a few students who enrolled in online degree programs at the beginning), then a 50 percent increase would not be very significant. Thus, the first question that needs to be addressed in order to evaluate the argument is the actual number of students who enrolled in online degree programs. If the number is not significant compared to the current enrollment at Humana University, then creating online degree programs will not help the embarrassing enrollment situation at Humana.
Furthermore, the president implies that the online degree program contributes to reducing the cost of maintaining buildings and dormitories, since Omni showed a significant decrease in expenditures for dormitory and classroom space. However, the president only points out one side of the issue. What about the money students paid to live in dorms? It is true that since students who enrolled in online degree progrmas do not have to live on campus, and the cost of maintaining dorms will decrease, but the school will also lose the revenue from student living, and food, too. Will the revenue compensate the cost of maintaining buildings? Therefore, the second question we need to ask in order to evaluate the conclusion is whether the revenue from dorms and foods (cafeteria) offsets the cost of maintaining buildings.
Finally, the president concludes that creating the online program can solve current budget problems. However, it is not clear whether the online program is profitable or not, and how much it cost to start the program. Thus, the last question we need to ask to verify the claim is how much money the university needs to invest on this online program, and is it profitable after all? If it costs Humana Univerisity too much money to start the online program, and it makes considerably less, then, following the recommendation will not help solve budget problems.
To sum up, in order to evaluate the president’s recommendation, we need to know the number of students who are likely to enroll in online programs, if the revenue from dorms can offset the cost of maintaining buildings, and whether the online program profitable or not.
Your first paragraph is reasonable except for the conclusion: you cannot conclude with certainty how successful online degree programs at Humana will be based on the number of students who enrolled in online degree programs at Omni. What you can claim is that if that number is small, then it makes no sense to cite Omni's experience with online programs as a basis for predicting significant increases in the total enrollment at Humana (note, however, that the original statement only predicts an "increase," not a significant increase, although you could argue that a significant increase is implicitly predicted by virtue of the concomitant prediction that the budget problem would be solved).
Your second paragraph is incomplete (for this prompt). You need to clarify what the consequences for the prediction will be. I note that you do carry out this step at the end of your third paragraph, which is dealing with the same general issue (budget concerns). From an organizational point of view, it would make sense to deal with both the issue of maintenance costs and the issue of program profitability together under that general issue of budget, since the specific prediction that you are dealing with has to do with the budget. (E.g., something along these lines: "The president predicts that instituting online degree programs will help solve the budget problems. This prediction is apparently based on the idea that Humana will have reduced maintenance costs and is perhaps also based on the idea that the online courses will be profitable. In order to evaluate this prediction, therefore, we need to ask whether etc.")