In Barbara Ehrenreich’s article, “The Higher Education Scam” she expresses her feelings about employers looking specifically for college grads to fill their positions. Ehrenreich seems to be voicing her feelings to employers because they are beginning to look specifically for college grads, instead of people who may have more experience and knowledge, or even currently work for the organization. She claims that employers seek college grads merely because they have a college degree and it shows they have the ability to listen and obey.
Deep within Ehrenreich seems to be attacking the college grads by saying that once they have finished school and earned their degree, they are now slaves to the employers. Her claim is quite logical and the examples she gives validate what she is saying. Conversely, she seems to be going on a theory with her argument and her attacks on the college grads for going to school and earning a degree detracts from the value she has built up. Finally, Ehrenreich’s argument is effective to some degree, but lack of personal experience leave the article with a flaw.
Ehrenreich uses value and emotion within her article to get the attention of her audience. We all need jobs in order to get through life and if you want to have a good job, you need to get a degree. This puts a lot of value in what you need to accomplish because the final product is suppose to be worth it, and employers will only hire you if you are a college grad. Ehrenreich uses this example to connect with her audience and adds to the credibility of her argument.
Throughout the article Ehrenreich adds humor to help make an emotional connection with her audience. She says that whatever you learn in college doesn’t seem to matter. All that employers are looking at is that you were able to sit still for long periods of time, be told what to do, and appear awake. Ehrenreich is saying that no matter what degree you’ve just earned, all employers are looking at is that you devoted 4 years doing what your told. She adds, “no college has yet been honest enough to offer a degree in seat-warming” (696).
This is most likely what you will end up doing when you begin working at a white-collar job anyways, so by hiring you they know you are able to do what they ask. She also goes on to imply that you will be desperate for work because of the debt you have just accrued and you won’t become a troublemaker, or whistle blower. You’ll basically grovel at their every need and do exactly what your told. Ehrenreich adds to the credibility of her article by giving examples of people who have been able to do something and do it well, but didn’t have a degree to back it up.
They were either dismissed from their job, or called out on it once they became popular. She gives the example about Marilee Jones who worked for MIT as the dean of admissions for twenty-eight years. Marilee claimed she had three degrees and yet she really didn’t have any. Now if Marilee had done a poor job as the dean of admission it would be easy to forgive and remove her from her position, yet she was very successful and it was threatening to an institution of higher learning.
This gives us an emotional appeal because it’s a personal story of sadness for Marilee and it causes the audience to wonder if a college degree is really worth it. She did a good job for the institution and just because she didn’t have a degree, they were willing to dismiss her. Is that really all the companies want is a degree; or do they want someone who is going to do a great job for their organization? Throughout Ehrenreich’s article she stays pretty true to her argument, employers seek out college grads.
Although she puts in the example of “Dr. Dennis Waitley Ph. D” who is known for writing a best selling self-help book The Secret. He confessed to not having a master’s degree and the marketing firm he worked for admitted that they couldn’t confirm he ever received his Ph. D. This example adds to Ehrenreich’s credibility, but it seems to go off what she talks about in the majority of her article, which seems to be more along the lines of employers. It does however stay true to her title, “The Higher Education Scam”.
For her article to be spot on with her argument, she should have stuck more with education and touched on different subjects like employers, writers, and other people in general who have not had college degrees, but were still successful in their fields. In Ehrenreich’s article she doesn’t attack anyone in particular with what she is saying, but she keeps her comments vague so it is up to the reader to interpret the hidden meaning. In the beginning she talks about the amount of lies being put into resumes in order for people to get certain positions they are applying for.
She says, “that 10-30 percent of resumes include distortions if not outright lies” (696). She adds to this with some more humor in saying, “lying is a grievous sin, as everyone outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue knows” (696). This comment adds humor to the article as well as a little ad hominem because of the hidden attack. Ultimately, the article by Barbara Ehrenriech is effective. She shows credibility with the examples she uses and the only flaw seen is that she doesn’t have a personal example herself. She keeps humor going in the article, which keeps the audience drawn in and is very logical in her viewpoints.
Ehrenreich really makes you think after reading her article. Should we go to college in order to get a degree and work for a good company? Should employers really just look for candidates that have earned that college degree hoping they will obey their every need? Should employers give there currently employees a chance to earn a college degree instead of being dismissed from their position? Is it worth over looking other candidates for positions strictly because they don’t have a degree when they will be able to do the same job and possibly do it better?
To sum it all up, why do employers really need to be looking for a college degree? Is the time and money really worth it to earn that degree for a position that you are going to learn on the spot anyways? Employers really need to think about what they are doing and not just jump on the bandwagon and make hasty generalizations. Works Cited Ehrenreich, Barbara. “The Higher Education Scam. ” Inventing Arguments, 2nd ed. Eds. John Mauk and John Metz. Boston: Wadsworth, 2009. Print. 69-697.