What College can Mean to the Other America

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Read “ What College Can Mean to the Other America”, and then reread it again and decide which are the three key sentences of the essay, or locate what you feel are the three most important points to your personally. Discuss these sentences in your journal and why you selected them.



What College can Mean to the Other America

After reading “What College can Mean to the Other America” by Mike Rose, I find the following three sentences the most important in his work: “young marginally educated people, who drift out of low-pay, dead-end jobs”, “the poor are drifting further into the dark underbelly of American capitalism” And “What kind of society do we want to become?” There are various reasons why these sentences were selected as the most important.

The first sentence gives a picture of the reality on the ground in several places in America today. Throughout the country, one can find a large number of unemployed young people – if the situation is any better, such people will hold low paid jobs that are dead end, because nothing practically important can ever come from working such jobs. The problem is not limited to the low paid jobs, rather to their connection with “young marginally educated people,” like Rose observes. This sentence highlights what can be termed as the American big problem.

The second sentence, “the poor are drifting further into the dark underbelly of American capitalism” is important because it explains cause of the ‘American big problem’ and why it persists. While the first sentence simply states the problem, this second sentence explains it further, giving reasons as to why we have this problem and why it persist. A careful reading of Rose’s essay lays it bare, that the American culture of unguarded capitalism is the cause of the problems of poverty, unemployment and joblessness. The American society has for a long time practiced extractive and crony capitalism which leads to an overall exclusion of the poor from accessing quality education. Poor children receive lo quality education thus end up with low quality skills that make them unemployable in the ever highly changing job market. It becomes a vicious circle that locks them into the world of poverty that is characterized by the lack of opportunity. Besides, capitalism advocates for budget cuts on education and other related social services, making sure that the goal of quality education remains as elusive as ever to the poor American child.

The third sentence, which is in fact a question, is deeply loaded with intent. The author ponders on the question of what kind of a society do the American people want to create. Having discussed the problem and the causes, the author makes a call for all to respond urgently so at to build a better society.  This question is not a random one, it comes towards the end of the author’s essay, and hence it concludes Rose’s work in a unique style.