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"an a for Effort? Talk About a Lousy Idea" Analysis

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In Michelle Cottle’s, a TNR editor, rather derisive viewpoint concerning a recent article in the New York Times, she scornfully speaks of her disbelief relating to a more current tendency for college students to believe that giving a lot of effort should equate to higher grades. The entire article, An A for Effort? Talk About A Lousy Idea, is extremely informal in its structure, as can be seen by her use of swearing, fragmented sentences, and even made up words such as “craptastic”. The piece is heavily laden with sarcasm, which can be seen in the long strings of rhetorical questions she asks and answers with a great deal of harshness. In addition to this, the majority of her writing is based around her obnoxious amount of name calling. To name a few, she calls the college students who believe that they should be able to achieve higher grades because of their participation “whiny, fragile, self-entitled, poorly qualified adults”. Yes, these words may damage the image and ethos of those people, however it also damages her credibility. Cottle was so quick to insult everybody that it makes her appear to be childish and whiny herself. Furthermore, her use of the statistics from the article in the NYT serve as excellent examples of logos to boost her argument. By providing actual evidence to support her claim of this trend, she makes a good case for her concern regarding the issue.

The core of Cottle’s that she repeatedly delivers is that nowadays, college students are becoming much too entitled and their attitude towards learning will do nothing to help them in life. It is debatable just how persuasive this argument is, as it depends on who is reading the article. If the person who is reading it is of a similar mindset to the author already, they will most likely agree with what Cottle has to say. Although, there are a good many people who don’t share Cottle’s mindset, which she doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of that concept. She does absolutely nothing to defend the other side, nor does she take the time to see or address why someone would see things differently than herself. If someone who had an opposing view to her were to read her article, they probably wouldn’t even think about changing their mind. There is no evidence of outside opinions, other than her own. She states why she thinks that college students act and think they way they do, and leaves no space for disagreement.

The point of arguing is to persuade people to join your side, and Cottle did a rather lousy job of that what with her harsh intonation and criticism. Only people that already share her opinion would agree with what she wrote. All of the other people will only be angered by such a closed minded outlook on the topic, which makes for an utterly pointless and ineffective argument.



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