Essay #1 Tip Sheet

Essay #1: What is college really for?

Begin by reading:

"Republicans are terrified of educated, curious, open minds" by Leonard Pitts. (Blackboard)

Your writing task:

Write a response to this question: "Should a college education be tightly focused on skills for making money, or should it have a larger purpose?"


Many of my students see college as a trade school—very similar to the experience someone goes through to become a plumber or an electrician. Nursing students show up so they can learn how to make money by giving injections. Cyber security people show up so they can learn how to make money by writing computer programs. Business students show up so they can learn how to make money by keeping track of someone's income and expenses.

Leonard Pitts takes a different view of the role of college. To him, the point of college is learning "how to gather and evaluate information, how to analyze and extrapolate from it, how to defend my ideas." This is why he objects to Florida's new law which attempts to register and regulate the political opinions of Florida universities, professors, and students. (After all, who cares about the political opinions of the person who teaches plumbers how to install a faucet?)

Hints for success:

This assignment has a couple of pitfalls that you should be aware of.

On the other hand, especially because you are at the beginning of your college career, there is nothing wrong with asking a further question: "If I really take his comment about learning how to gather information and defend my ideas to heart, how would that change my next four years?"

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Revised 7/5/21 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: