College Essay Examples


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Thomas L. Friedman’s “How About Better Parents?,” discusses the debate about having more parent involvement with their children, which will improve their academic achievement. The thesis states that more involvement would help American students achieve grades on international tests that are comparable to the students’ achievements in Singapore. Friedman’s goes on to argue through his article the reasons why America needs further commitment from parents, in order to improve student achievement.

Friedman strengthens his argument by using research that was conducted by the credible institution, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. O.E.C.D.hosts exams called the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). This research puts into perspective that there is a problem with the achievement levels of American students compared to those who are studying elsewhere. He focuses his argument by selecting the test results of 15-year-old students, and this is necessary to keep with the direction he is taking with his discussion – which is improving student achievement in grade school.

Logically, for an understanding of why some countries are excelling in PISA scoresFriedman needed to investigate any findings that have been compiled by the O.E.C.D. This is an initiative Friedman took that sheds additional light onto the situation for the reader, and further strengthens his thesis. Fortunately for Friedman, PISA recently published three main findings. These concrete results from a credible organization such as PISA would prove to support Friedman’s claim that, in addition to stronger teachers, savvy students require solid parenting. Here’s how the finding support Friedman’s claim: First, students whose parents read to them when they were in their first year of primary school scored much higher on the PISA tests in 2009, the year from which the information was compiled. Second, students whose parents read to them in the early school years also scored higher than those whose parents didn’t read to them at that time. Third, students with parents who engage with them score higher than those whose parents neglect them.

Friedman goes on to support his claim by directly quoting passages from the PISA study that further supports his thesis. The report states that even students whose parents simply ask how school went are higher achievers. The simple question has the same effect as “hours of private tutoring.” This shows that it doesn’t even matter if the parent is well educated, they can still have a major impact on their child’s education. This leaves no parent with the opportunity to refuse involvement.

However, as Friedman points out, the type of involvement the parents have with their children also plays a role in how well the student does. The test scores improved the most among students whose parents read to them, told them stories or asked them about their day. However, simply playing with their children led to the smallest gain in test scores. This type of detailed look at the levels of parental involvement further enforces Friedman’s thesis.

But Friedman goes even further to prove his point when he increases the credibility of the PICA scores. Up to this point all of the information in the article could be held as not credible if PICA were not proven to be credible. While the designation of PICA being an international standard for testing, Friedman mentions that the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education has come to the same conclusions as PICA. This further proves that survey results provide insights into the current state of child education. The same results that PICA came to were published in the association’s The American School Board Journal. The study is titled, “Back to School: How parent involvement affects student achievement.”

The association’s study also found – and further supports Friedman’s claim – that parents who monitor their children’s homework will have students who achieve higher marks. Students will also achieve higher grades if the parents ensure their children attend school, reward children for good grades and test scores, and prepare them for college. This type of behavior, Friedman notes, is more advantageous than parents who go to school board meetings, volunteer at the school, fundraise for their child’s school and show up to various school events.

Friedman’s work is extremely concise and full of information that enforces his point. The article essentially has three parts: the introduction, which states his thesis of there being a need for better teachers, but the responsibility doesn’t entire lay on them, to backing up his statement with research from two credible organizations, and then his conclusion, which brings the reader back to his original argument by reminding the reader that the burden for increasing education doesn’t all lay with the teacher.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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