Sample Response, WSAT Question One

WSAT ESSAY (Note: A thesis statement sums up the essay’s argument, while topic sentences sum up the main idea of each body paragraph.)

When you think of a criminal do you think of an old man with a cane and gun hobbling about trying to rob someone of their money? No! Most people know that teenagers are the ones that do most of the crime in America. Sociologists tell us that the majority of crimes are done by young men ages 16 to 24. A study recently revealed that the majority of young men in jail were high school dropouts. How can we combat this? One way would be for the Illinois legislature to consider a bill that would require the high school dropout age to be raised from 16 to 18. This means that just about every young man in America would earn a high school diploma. Raising the legal dropout ager for high school students is a good idea for several reasons.

First of all, raising the age means that most students will graduate and be eligible for better jobs. In the past a high school dropout would have had trouble finding a job. He might sit at home and find himself bored and miserable because of no money in his pocket. Friends in the same situation might come visit him and talk him into illegal activity in order to score some cash. Before the young man realizes, he’s into illegal activity and in trouble with the law. The situation might be different if the young man finished high school. A diploma would open more doors than no diploma. The young man might be eligible for a construction job or a city job. Getting a job would allow him to earn money and not feel so desperate about his situation in life. Going to work and having responsibilities leaves no room for illegal actions.

Second of all, raising the age means that the United States will have a more educated workforce. Americans learned recently that India and Japan have a more educated workforce. This means that they are able to put their citizens into jobs that help them move ahead in the world. If our society were to continue with our high school dropout rate, we would soon find that we didn’t have enough educated workers to take some of the crucial jobs we offer. As a service oriented nation, we need educated people to interact with clients. It is important, even in blue collar jobs, to be able to communicate with clients and bosses. America must have an educated workforce in order to compete with other post-industrial countries. We do not want to fall behind economically as that will have us dependent on other countries for our general welfare.

Third of all, educated people tend to be more aware of what it takes to be a compassionate citizen. When a student takes a course in history, he learns that many countries have had to fight for their freedoms. This usually took sacrifice and courage. A student of history learns to have an admiration and compassion for those who have been downtrodden. When a student takes a political science class, he learns that systems have been built to try and fight injustice. He learns why these systems don’t always work. Through science a student learns about the miracle of life. Through writing he learns how to express himself. Through reading he learns about other worlds. It is through this process that compassion may enter his psyche.

Education, then, is a win-win situation. The individual wins, our citizens win, and our country wins. Mandating that students stay in high school until they are 18 is a good, if not great, idea!