English Argumentative Paper

Essay 3: Is College the Best Option?


The authors of the readings/videos (listed below) from Unit 3 explore whether college is the best option for everyone. For Essay 3, you will choose a topic from one (or more) of these readings/videos that you would like to explore in depth. Next, you will extensively research your topic. During this process, you should consider your opinions about your topic and begin to formulate a thesis for your final paper. Your thesis must be argumentative. You will not inform the reader about the topic; you will persuade the reader.

In your essay, you will persuade the reader to accept the argument set forth in your thesis using a combination of your own opinions and the opinions of third parties (i.e., by incorporating secondary sources), which is discussed in more detail below.


1. Length: 1,200-1,500 words (which is longer than the previous essays)

2. Your essay must relate to the topics presented in the readings for Unit 3: Is College the Best Option?

3. Your thesis must be argumentative (i.e., persuasive).

4. You must include at least four scholarly sources.

5. You must include at least one quote from each of your four sources.

6. You must use only articles from peer-reviewed scholarly journals for this essay. Failing to use scholarly sources will result in a 10-point deduction for each non-scholarly source. For example, if you include two non-scholarly sources in your essay, there will be a 20-point deduction. Therefore, it is crucial that you use scholarly sources.

Note: If you are using Google to locate sources, then it is highly unlikely that you are choosing scholarly articles. Your safest option is to use the library databases (e.g., ProQuest, JStor, and Academic OneFile) to find sources. If you do not know how to access/use the library databases, please see the “Library Research Tutorials” section in Content. If you do not know how to distinguish scholarly journals from popular periodicals, please see the “Evaluating Research Sources” module under Content. In addition, you will want to review the Vanderbilt University Video Tutorial about Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Sources, which is posted under Content.

7. You must include a Works Cited page that conforms to The MLA Handbook, 8th edition citation style.

8. You must include correct MLA parenthetical/in-text citations.

9. You must properly introduce, present, and cite all direct quotes.

10. Your tone should be formal.

· Avoid first person pronouns (i.e., I, me, my, we, us)

· Avoid second person (i.e., you, your) pronouns.

· Avoid contractions (i.e., isn’t, doesn’t, won’t, etc.)

· Avoid slang.

· Avoid clichés.

· Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

· State your opinions as facts. Phrases like the following weaken your argument:

· In my research, I found that . . .

· In this essay, I will discuss . . .

· I believe that . . .


As with all assignments in this course, your submissions must meet certain minimum requirements. Failing to meet the requirements of the assignment can result in substantial deductions, so it is vital that you carefully read and follow the instructions presented in this document.

The following is a list of major deductions for the assignment:

1. You are required to use peer-reviewed articles from academic journals. Using non-scholarly articles will result in a 10-point deduction for each article.

2. You are required to incorporate four scholarly sources. Failing to include the required number of sources will result in a 10-point deduction for each missing source.

3. You are required to make a good-faith effort to use correct MLA citation style. Providing a list of links without creating MLA citations will result in a 10-point deduction for each link.

General Guidelines:

· Your thesis should show that you have appropriately narrowed your topic, and it must appear in the introduction (as opposed to one of the body paragraphs). Don’t forget the opening hook and the transition that leads to the thesis statement.

· Present and support your argument with observations, details, and examples.

· Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Avoid slang, clichés, and second person pronouns. Since this essay requires you to respond to the reading using your own experiences and knowledge, you may use first person pronouns.

· Present your argument so that readers can hear your distinctive voice.

· Properly organize the paper. Provide clear transitions and balance to your argument.

· Use a variety of sentence structures and sentence beginnings.

· Do not simply restate your thesis and main points in the conclusion! Your conclusion should be a fresh take on that thesis, and you should work to leave your readers with something thought-provoking.

· Follow MLA formatting guidelines for font, margins, etc.

Evaluation Criteria:

· Is the writer’s purpose/position clear?

· Does the writer position him/herself within an existing conversation/debate?

· Does the writer answer the questions, “So what?” and “Who cares?”

· Does the writer spend too many, too few, or just enough words discussing others’ views?

· Does the writer offer sufficient (quantity) and compelling (quality) support for his/her own view?

· Is the essay effectively organized?

· Are the paragraphs adequately developed?

· Is the tone appropriate to the essay’s purpose?

· Is there evidence of attention to language, of a conscious attempt to employ rhetorical strategies to achieve a certain effect?

· Does the essay contain errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and/or mechanics?

· Does the writer smoothly incorporate source material, using signal phrases and transitions?

My Research proposal idea

Colleges may or may not be worth it for everyone.


College Attendance

Specific Question:

Do all students need to go to college?


Not all students need to go to college and receive a degree. Some are just as successful without one. A diploma should not define one’s success or intellectual level.

Statement of Significance:

Individuals who do not attend college are usually viewed as less intellectual and “smart” because they do not have what it takes to attend college. I believe otherwise. People like Mark Zuckerburg, the creator of Facebook, dropped out after his sophomore year of college to pursue a dream that turned into a multi-million-dollar business. In other cases, similar to his, individuals may not even need to go to college to make it work for them.

What I know:

I know that not all students need college to succeed in life. I also know that if individuals decide not to attend college or drop out, it does not make them any less smart.

What I need to know:

What are the alternatives of not attending college?