Ivory Tower Paper

Topics: Higher education, University, Academic degree, College / Pages: 6 (1268 words) / Published: Oct 14th, 2013
Education and The American Dream
The American Dream was defined by James Truslow Adams in 1931 as, "Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement"(Clark). Today, a college degree, owning your own home and achieving more success than the generation prior has become synonymous with the American Dream, with most believing it is an attainable goal for anyone who puts in the effort. Barack Obama has recently fueled this belief by vowing that the United States will have the highest percentage of college graduates in the world by 2020 (Marklein). "We 're force-feeding them the idea that you must go to college or you 'll be a second-class citizen," says Marty Nemko, a California career counselor (Marklein). A study conducted by Public Agenda shows that the percentage of Americans who believe college is essential for success has risen from thirty-one percent in 2000 to fifty-five percent today (Marklein). However, encouraging everyone to earn a college degree is only setting some people up for disappointment and failure.
The essay “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower” brings up a character named “Mrs. L” that fits into this group of people that are simply not prepared for college and do not have the basic education required to successfully complete a degree. Mrs. L is a woman in her forties that is taking the most basic English class at a community college. Her professor describes her as abilities as nothing resembling a college level (X). So why was she admitted to college when she clearly wasn’t ready for it?
Two-year and even a few four-year schools have what is known as an open admissions policy. If you fill out and application, show proof of a high school diploma or GED, and pay the tuition, then you are admitted. Typically, there are no entrance exams to demonstrate whether applicants have the skills needed to attend the school and actually earn a degree. Assistant Chancellor of



Cited: Clark, Jonas. "In Search of the American Dream." The Atlantic. TheAtlantic.com. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. Hefling, Kimberly Marklein, Mary Beth. "What If College Isn 't For Everyone?" USA Today. Gannett, 16 Mar. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. Rooney, Jill Sanchez, Claudio. "Should Everyone Go To College?" NPR. NPR, 15 July 2009. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. Steinberg, Jacques X, Professor. "In the Basement of the Ivory Tower." The Atlantic. Atlantic Magazine, June 2008. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. "Entrance Test." Kennebec Valley Community College "Community and Technical Colleges." , College Search, Undergraduate Search. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. "Hourly Rate for Onondaga Community College Alumni." PayScale National Center for Educational Services. U.S. Department of Education. Web. 25 Feb. 2012.

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