Monday, February 19, 2024

Prospects With A Bachelor’s Degree Much Better Than Without But There Is A Catch

 College Writing I: Essay #1 

Student: Gibson, John 

Professor: Michael Baron 

University Of Massachusetts, Lowell,  

Jan 30, 2024 

Prospects With A Bachelor’s Degree Much Better Than Without 

But There Is A Catch 

I am a fourth-year student majoring in biology and taking extra courses in engineering. My GRE math score is a perfect 800. I am a Kennedy Merit Scholarship recipient. During my first three years at the university, I often encountered one or two classmates who clung to me as lab partners to help with science, organic, and biochemistry problems in every lab-oriented course. They came out of nowhere, completely lost, and immediately expected me to be their friend. Affirmative action preferential admission likely admitted them. Having to help them pushed me to study harder and be better prepared. My cumulative GPA is 3.952. I am taking the first-year breadth of knowledge courses in my last year at the university to fulfill the degree requirement before graduation. I witnessed the demographic shift in classrooms from the past three years to the current semester due to the Supreme Court’s repeal of affirmative action in college admissions two semesters ago. There have not been classmates who clung to partnering with me in lab courses in the last two semesters, even though I am taking more science lab classes than ever before. My thesis is that there is a moral problem in turning away the needy, who need the degree to better their life, and some replacement of affirmative action to reduce class segregation deserves research if only I can remind people in the power group of the reality on the ground.  

Reality on the ground: Americans with a four-year college degree have much higher incomes than those without it. According to Professor Dalton Conley’s sociology textbook, “You May Ask Yourself,” the average lifetime earning of an American with a four-year college degree is “$1,500,000,” 1.5 million dollars more than an American without it (Conley, p. 58). Sociology courses emphasize the social construct of humans that the job market has stratification correlated to different salary levels and that pay differences naturally fall in place. Professor Conley’s textbook does not explicitly state that a bachelor’s degree causes a gain of 1.5 million dollars for a lifetime. Instead, the textbook provides arithmetics of a complex calculation between the loss of earnings during the four years of study for someone who pursues the degree and the trade job pay curve. Schaefer’s Sociology Matters textbook, a year ago, omitted the 1.5 million dollar difference.  

Reality on the ground: High-pay trade jobs like electricians still pay less than counterpart electrical engineering positions with a bachelor's degree requirement. According to the textbook, “You May Ask Yourself,” the percentage of electricians with a bachelor's degree in the USA, at 7%, is the lowest among 14 wide-ranging categories of occupations, including bartenders, teachers, and armed force personnel. According to the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the median wage of all electricians is 60 thousand USD per year, while the mean wage of an electrical engineer is 114 thousand USD per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). There is an air of prestige given to the field of electrical engineering. The Bureau Of Labor Statistics has detailed categories of 20 industries that employ electrical engineers. The lowest-earning industry for an electrical engineer has an annual wage of 95 thousand USD; the highest-earning industry for an electrical engineer has a yearly salary of 164 thousand USD. In contrast, the statistics for electricians are not detailed, and industries are not categorized. 

Reality on the ground: Four-year colleges give people a sense of calm and serenity. They have sufficient endowments. Four-year colleges have coffee shops and outdoor seating to provide a relaxed atmosphere. It is possible that some Bachelor Of Arts program professors have abandoned office hour meetings in the office and opted to sit in friendly seatings for office hours. In contrast, due to budget constraints, vocational schools and community colleges logically have fewer facilities. The University Of Massachusetts, Lowell's endowment is 149 million USD, with 18 thousand students, over 8 thousand USD per student annually, according to The University Of Massachusetts Foundation (Endowment Overview). According to Northern Essex Community College, the endowment of Northern Essex Community College is 6 million USD, with 5 thousand students, less than 1.2 thousand USD per student per year, seven times smaller than UMass, Lowell (From Equity Talk to Equity Walk). Contrasting the serenity of 4-year colleges, 2-year colleges’ settings are logically more hectic.  

Reality on the ground: Secrets of the old world and continental civilizations are revealed to Bachelor of Arts and other Bachelor’s degree students to relieve them from guilt and pity. According to YaleCourses, Professor Tamar Gendler pointed out that Plato's philosophy influences all of today’s Western intellectuals without exception (Gendler, 2012). In book chapter 5 of Plato’s Republic, the upper ruling class called the ruled commoners “foster-fathers” according to Benjamin Jowett’s translation (Jowett). There was an air of harmony and piety for the ruling class to call commoners foster fathers. Father is a relationship term in a family—the piety in the Republic went from the upper class to the lower class. There was no guilt about education enforcing top-down hierarchy if a school teaches the reader of the Republic that all humans had a common origin, a small, physical family, and the inverted, meshed class hierarchy was just a division of labor in the family of mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam. There was no pity for low exam scores or rejection of education because no student was “left behind” in Socrates’s education system, according to Professor John Kaag’s Introduction to Ethics. For comparison, today’s four-year colleges have a relaxed atmosphere with bagel shops recreating the family home setting. In contrast, trade schools do not give credit for studying literature. The electrician’s exam covers calculations of workday problems and cold, hard physical facts and legal codes. There are no credits for reading The Republic for students in trade schools or for reading David Thoreau’s Walden for students in community colleges. There is no relief. 

Reality on the ground: “Secrets of the universe” are openly flaunted in four-year colleges with no shame in admitting to being a nerd or a geek. In the film Good Will Hunting, MIT professor Lambeau joked about himself being a “lowly” professor in the first scene for making good money with math that does not connect to people or industry to lift him out of the academic setting nor promote his position (Affleck et al.). Artificial intelligence projects received federal funding in 1957 for nine years to make language translators, only to be canceled in 1966 with no functional products produced, according to U. C. Berkley professor Stuart Russell (Russell, 2010). In Good Will Hunting, the main character, Will, played by Matt Damon, is as intelligent as any MIT student. However, the American class segregation system does not allow him a proper career path for stable jobs. The lead female character, Scarlet, a Harvard student, utilized Will’s help for her sophomore homework. Scarlet applied for medical school and transferred to California after a year of meeting Will. Will got a job offer as a code breaker in Boston, “probably doing long divisions for the next 50 years” (Affleck et al.). Willy rejected such a job offer as any sane person who does not want to do long divisions every day for life.  

Reality on the ground: Only seven percent of electricians have a bachelor’s degree and know, for sure, that the Western intellects are taught in schools to respect the working class people as “foster fathers.” The other ninety-three percent of electricians may think that the upper class of elites is here to exploit their labor and that higher education is all about exploiting people with low incomes. The working class may think that the upper class pities them for their low exam scores, even though that is not part of traditional Western values. The college credential barriers kept the working class in the dark. Scarlet told Willy that she would only break up with him and move to California if he told her, “I don’t love you.” Willy said the four words out of distrust, and the couple broke up, inevitably, as predicted by the human social construct that always segregates and breaks up people by class, except that, this time, the person that hurt most was a Harvard-trained medical school student, part of the people in the power group. 

Works Cited  

Affleck, Ben, et al. Good Will Hunting. Arthaus, 2015.  

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Electricians : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 Sept. 2023, Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.  

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Electrical Engineers.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25 Apr. 2023, Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.  

Conley, Dalton. You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist. 7th ed., W. W. Norton, 2021. 

Gendler, T. (2012, April 5). 2. The Ring of Gyges: Morality and Hypocrisy [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from 

“Endowment Overview.” University of Massachusetts Foundation, Accessed 10 Feb. 2024.  

“From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Harvard and Massachusetts Community Colleges.” Running the Campus - NECC President Lane Glenn Shares Stories and Perspectives on Leadership, Higher Education, and Going the Extra Mile, Accessed 10 Feb. 2024.  

Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. Patterns for College Writing: A Rhetorical Reader and Guide. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018.  

Russell, Stuart Jonathan, et al. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Prentice Hall, 2010. 

“The Internet Classics Archive: The Republic by Plato.” Trans. by Benjamin Jowett, The Internet Classics Archive | The Republic by Plato, Accessed 01 Feb. 2024.  


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