GMAT : Analysis of An Argument
16. The following appeared as part of an article in the election section of a Waymarsh City newspaper.
Throughout the last two decades, those who earned graduate degrees found it very difficult to get jobs teaching their academic specialties at the college level. Those with graduate degrees from Waymarsh University had an especially hard time finding such jobs. But better times are coming in the next decade for all academic jobs seekers, including those from Waymarsh. Demographic trends indicate that an increasing number of people will be reaching college age over the next ten years. Consequently, we can expect that the job market will improve dramatically for people seeking college-level teaching positions in their fields.
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.
Demographic trends that indicate an increase in the number of college-aged people over the next ten years lead the author to predict an improved job market for all people seeking college-level teaching positions in their academic disciplines. Additionally, the author argues that since Waymarsh University students with advanced degrees had an especially difficult time finding teaching jobs in the past, these trends portend better times ahead for Waymarsh graduates.
This argument is problematic in three important respects.
First, the author assumes that an increase in the number of college-aged people over the next decade will necessarily result in an increase in the number of people who attend college during this period. While this is a reasonable assumption, it is by no means a certainty. For example, a world war or economic depression in the next decade would certainly nullify this expectation.
Second, even if we grant the preceding assumption, we must also consider the additional assumption that increased university enrolments will lead to an increase in teaching positions in all fields. However, it might turn out that some teaching specialties are in greater demand than others in the future resulting in a disproportionate number of teaching positions available in some fields. Consequently, persons trained in some fields might find it more difficult, if not impossible, to find teaching jobs in the future.
Finally, little can be foretold regarding the employability of Waymarsh graduates in the future based on the information provided in the argument. Lacking information about the reasons Waymarsh graduates had an especially difficult time finding teaching jobs, it is difficult to assess their prospects for the future. It is probable, however, that since Waymarsh has had an especially hard time placing graduates in the past, the mere fact that more jobs are available will not, by itself, ensure that Waymarsh graduates will have an easier time finding teaching jobs during the next decade. .
In conclusion, this argument is unconvincing. To strengthen the argument, the author must provide evidence that the only major trend in the next decade will be an increase in the number of people reaching college age.
Regarding the future prospects for Waymarsh graduates, the author must provide evidence that there were no idiosyncratic reasons that prevented them from finding jobs in the past.