whats the matter with collegeWhat’s the Matter with College?

By Rick Perlstein

When Ronald Reagan ran against Pat Brown in 1966 for the governorship of California, the defining issue was college. Governor Brown was completing the biggest university expansion in modern history – nine new campuses. California’s colleges and universities had been instrumental in turning the nation’s biggest state into the world’s seventh-biggest economy and an international cultural mecca – and they formed the heart, Brown presumed, of his re-election appeal. Ronald Reagan’s advisers agreed and sought to neutralize the higher-ed issue by having the actor announce his candidacy flanked by two Nobel Prize winners. Reagan had other ideas. For months he told campaign-trail audiences horror stories about the building takeovers, antiwar demonstrations and sexual orgies ”so vile that I cannot describe it to you” at Berkeley, the University of California’s flagship campus. Reagan’s advisers warned him that disparaging the jewel of California civilization was political suicide. The candidate snapped back, ”Look, I don’t care if I’m in the mountains, the desert, the biggest cities of this state, the first question: ‘What are you going to do about Berkeley?’ And each time the question itself would get applause.”
It’s unimaginable now that a gubernatorial race in the nation’s largest state would come down to a debate about what was happening on campus. But it seemed perfectly natural then. The nation was obsessed with college and college students. It wasn’t just the building takeovers and the generation gap; the obsession was well in gear by the presidency of John F. Kennedy. (In October 1961, Harper’s devoted an issue to the subject.) The fascination was rooted in reasons as fresh as yesterday’s op-ed pages: in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, good colleges were a social-mobility prerequisite, and between 1957 and 1967, the number of college students doubled. Reagan actually cast himself as this new class’s savior, asking whether Californians would allow ”a great university to be brought to its knees by a noisy, dissident minority.” To that, liberals responded that these communities’ unique ability to tolerate noisy, dissident minorities was why universities were great.
Now, as then, everyone says higher education is more important than ever to America’s future. But interesting enough to become a topic of national obsession? Controversial enough to fight a gubernatorial campaign over? Hardly. The kids do have their own war now, but not much of an antiwar movement, much less building takeovers. College campuses seem to have lost their centrality. Why do college and college students no longer lead the culture? Why does student life no longer seem all that important?
Here’s one answer: College as America used to understand it is coming to an end.
For nine years I’ve lived in the shadow of the University of Chicago – as an undergraduate between 1988 and 1992, and again since 2002. AftEssay 2: Enter the Conversation

Percentage of Final Grade: 15% or 150 points

Learning Objectives:

Students will understand academic writing as a conversation about topics of consequence.

· Students will understand their responsibilities as writers – to accurately cite the work of other writers, to provide their audience with reliable information, and to consider multiple points of view.
· Students will understand academic writing as governed by the conventions of specific discourse communities.
· Students will become more critical readers, learning strategies for previewing, annotating, summarizing analyzing, and critiquing texts.
· Students will acquire informational literacy – the ability to locate and evaluate source material.
· Students will improve their ability to write clear and compelling thesis statements.
· Students will develop the skill of constructive critique, focusing on higher order concerns during peer workshops.
· Students will understand the distinction between revising and editing.


For Essay 2, you will summarize and then respond to

of the readings from this unit (or the video,
College Inc.). In your essay, you will summarize the reading/video and then respond to it by discussing how your own experiences and knowledge have led you to either agree, disagree, or both agree and disagree with the author

by including the opinions of third parties (i.e., by incorporating secondary sources), which is discussed in more detail below.

Most of the readings can be found in your textbook. However, I also assigned a couple of outside readings and the video,
College, Inc.,
which are posted under Course Content.
In addition to the assigned readings (or the video), you may choose any of the other readings from Chapter 17 in
They Say / I Say. Choose the one that you best understand. Carefully read the example essays that I have posted under Course Content, as they will help you to understand the expectations for the assignment.

Essay 2 is similar to the previous essay, with two additions:

1. Rather than responding to the selected reading/video with your own opinion only, you will add other people’s voices to the conversation by including two secondary sources (i.e., in addition to the selected reading/video). You will use quotes both from the selected reading/video and from your secondary sources to support your assertions.

Your secondary sources can be another reading from this unit. For example, in “Two Years Are Better Than Four,” Liz Addison is responding to Rick Perlstein’s argument in “What’s the Matter with College?” Therefore, you might choose to discuss their opposing views. Instead, you might choose articles you find through one of the library databases, an article in another textbook, a radio show, a podcast, or a video. You are not required to use schola

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