Kindly give feedback and score on the GRE essays - Issue and Argument

Claim: Even though young people often receive the advice to “follow your dreams,” more emphasis should be placed on picking worthy goals.

Reason: Many people’s dreams are inherently selfish.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim AND the reason on which that claim is based.

My answer:
It is absolutely true that even though young people often receive the advice to ‘follow your dreams’, more emphasis should be placed on picking worthy goals. A key reason for this is that although these goals are ‘deemed worthy’ by the goal setters, these are set with the ultimate aim to achieve one’s own selfish interests. It’s not essential that the goals perceived to be perceived could be in the best interest of everyone connected to the person. People with dreams to achieve could do so at any cost, which could include dishonourable means or by harming others on their path to achieve these goals. The following passages elucidate as to why it is essential to ensure that the goals being set take into account interests of the broader society.

Firstly, ‘dreams’ mean different things to different people. For instance, dream of a corrupt, middle-class man might be to become rich at all costs, even if it is through dishonest means. Hansal Mehta, the stock market man of the 1980s and 1990s in India, who became extremely rich through embezzlement and duping several people’s hard-earned money, is a classic example of this. He did dream of becoming filthy rich, but by harming thousands of people on the path to becoming rich. This finally led to his downfall, and he ended up dying a lonely man. Similarly, a real-estate developer who dreams of making money by constructing several high rise residential buildings by using low-quality construction material is not choosing a worthy goal.

Secondly, if young people are trained from a very young age to follow their dreams at any cost, and not pay heed to the path they choose to follow their dreams, then it could lead to disastrous results for the society and nation at large. For instance, if an average student, who dreams of becoming a rich doctor later on in life, is told to follow his dreams, then he could resort to not very good means to reach there. He could bribe people to get access to medical examination papers simply to pass the doctor exams and fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. Instead, young students and people need to be trained on the best means and methods they need to follow to achieve their goals.

Thirdly, several young people aspire to reach the highest positions of power in government and industry. But very few people actually set a noble goal of serving the people of their nation and company selflessly. For instance, if a university students’ union leader aspires to become the prime minister or president of a nation later on in life, he or she should work towards that goal keeping in mind that the penultimate aim is to be able to be a selfless and inspiring leader for his or her nation. On the other hand, if the university students’ union leader simply aims to become the leader of a nation with the intention to become powerful by unscrupulous means, there is a high probability that he could be corrupt, with no moral values, and might ultimately lead to the downfall of his or her country. Sri Lanka’s recent economic crisis is an example here, where corrupt leaders, in order to lead a luxurious and comfortable life, led to the ravaging of its economic resources.

On the other hand, we can also see instances where people who picked worthy goals and not simply a specific dream, became successful leaders, spiritual gurus and industry head honchos. For instance, the pioneer and head of Tata Group in India, Sir Jamshedji Tata’s goal was to make India an industrial and modern country, where people could be economically strong. Similarly, Sri Dhirubhai Ambani, the architect of Reliance Industries in India, rose to become the owner of India’s largest chain of modern industries, with the goal of benefitting and positively impacting the lives of millions of Indians. It is because of these gentlemen’s goals that India has risen to be the world’s fastest growing economy.

To summarize, a society’s and country’s success and well-being is dependent on its young people choosing and attaining goals that are beneficial to its people. History tells us that people who simply followed their dreams through dubious means ultimately ended up harming thousands of people. This also sets a dangerous precedent. If young people are simply taught to follow their dreams at any cost, it could lead to a downfall of an entire society. In recent times, we have seen instances where countries have suffered crisis brought on by leaders with selfish interests. On the other hand, we have also seen real-life practical cases where people who had dreams of achieving success by keeping the interests of the people of their nation in mind, were global success icons.

The following appeared in a letter from the faculty committee to the president of Seatown University:

A study conducted at nearby Oceania University showed that faculty retention is higher when professors are offered free tuition at the university for their own college-aged children. Therefore, Seatown should institute a free-tuition policy for its professors for the purpose of enhancing morale among the faculty and luring new professors.

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

The letter mentions a study conducted at nearby Oceania University which showed that faculty retention is higher when professors are offered free tuition at the university for their own college-aged children. Based on this, the member recommends that Seatown should institute a free-tuition policy for its professors for the purpose of enhancing morale among the faculty and luring new professors. This recommendation is riddled with specious argument, and lacks details on the type of study, the sample size of the survey, the subjects of the study. The argument also assumes that the same policy, which was successful in Oceania, will be successful in Seatown as well. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. The following passages elaborate on the key inadequacies of this argument.

Firstly, the letter mentions a study conducted at Oceania University. But there are no details about the type of study, the subjects studied and whether a survey was done or not. For instance, if the total number of faculty members in Oceania is 100, and if the study was done on only 20 members, then it implies that more than 70% of the staff at Oceania was excluded from the study. That would make the results of the study unreliable and weak. If, on the other hand, the study was conducted by administering a survey to all the 100 faculty members and it was ensured that all the 100 members responded with conclusive answers, then the study is reliable and authentic.

Secondly, the statement assumes that since the policy of offering free tuition to children of professors at Oceania was successful, it would give the same results at Seatown as well. However, the letter doesn’t specify as to how similar Oceania and Seatown are. For instance, there could be a possibility that Oceania is an Undergrad college and specializes in arts and literature only. Maybe teachers of these subjects are less in demand in other colleges, and hence, that could be the primary reason for the higher retention of faculty. If this is indeed true, then offering free tuition will have no impact of retention rates of staff. On the other hand, Seatown could be grad college, specializing in Science and Management training, and hence, its faculty could be in greater demand elsewhere. In such a scenario, even offering free tuition to faculty’s children will not help in retaining the staff members.

Thirdly, the statement mentions about the study at ‘nearby’ Oceania University. The word ‘nearby’ could have several different meanings. It could mean that Oceania university campus is right next to Seatown campus, and hence, they have similar quality of staff employed. If this found to be true, then the policy of instituting free tuition could work at Seatown. However, if Oceania is on the outskirts of the town, where cost of living and prices are lower in comparison the main city centre, where Seatown campus is and where costs are higher than the outskirts, then there is a possibility that Seatown’s administration might not be able to afford free tuition for children of faculty members. The university could be spending exorbitant amount of money on managing the university and on the salaries of faculty members. Hence, they might not be able to implement this policy of free tuition.

Fourthly, it has been assumed that instituting the policy of free tuition will help retain faculty members and lure new professors. There is no specification on whether other plausible reasons for not being able to retain faculty members and lure new professors were investigated or not. For example, Seatown could be paying below-market standard salaries to its faculty, which could be one of the main reasons for not being able to retain existing staff. Or its campus and classrooms and facilities could be in urgent need of renovation. Poor amenities and resources for staff could be key reason for attrition.

To conclude, the statement need to give more details on several aspects, basis which it has been concluded that giving free tuition to children of faculty will help retain the staff. We need clarity on how detailed and authentic the study at Oceania is, and the number of subjects studied. Moreover, it needs to clearly outlined as to what type of subjects do each of these universities specialize in and whether they are junior colleges, undergrad colleges, or specialized post graduation universities. Also, the location of the universities and how near or far they are to each other needs to be known. Finally, other possible reasons for higher attrition at Seatown need to be analyzed. The reaons could range from existing compensation policies to poor surroundings. One can reach a conclusive recommendation once we have access to these

1 Like

Hi @Characteristic_apric, nice work - these are well-written essays, and I’d score them both 5.5.

Here’s my feedback:

  • Good length. If you can write a little more, that’s even better.
  • Good structure with thesis/conclusion, and good transition words in body paragraphs.
  • Good use of keywords from the prompt.
  • Good use of details in the issue essay; adding more to the argument essay could help.
  • Some paragraphs are a little short; try adding another sentence or two.
  • Good use of vocabulary, but use less slang since this is a professional essay (e.g. “filthy rich” or “head honchos”)
  • Don’t start sentences with simple joiners followed by a comma:
    • Replace “But” with “However,”
    • Replace “And” with “Additionally,”

Overall I feel these are two strong essays with solid foundations!

If you’d like to continue to improve, my advice is to use a tool like Grammarly. Their free version is fine; no need to pay for it. You can check these essays, and also use it as you’re writing new ones. It will help you identify and fix a few bad habits.

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