Example 3

Present an argument in favor of one of the following two financial aid policies a university is considering implementing. Both policies will result in a roughly equal loss of students. As the cost to the university of both policies is about the same, two other considerations should shape your decision:

• The university wants to retain is current mix of ethnic and socioeconomic diversity.
• The university wants to maintain its reputation for academic excellence.

Option A calls for providing funding to the very best of the financially needy students. Currently, the university provides some degree of aid to half its students. Under this option, the university would provide full financial support to half of all student aid recipients; those with the best grades. The remaining half of student aid recipients who are not supported will almost certainly have to leave the university. Regrettably, most of those who leave will be minorities and other traditionally disadvantaged people. About 2 percent of the student body will be forced to leave, but the top academic achievers will be saved.

Option B calls for providing partial funding to all current student aid recipients. The university would not provide full funding to any student and roughly half of those currently receiving financial aid would not be able to continue their schooling. It should be noted, however, that the misery will be equally shared and the diversity of the student body will be maintained. Again, the university would lose about 20 percent of its current students.

Sample Essay

The university faces a difficult situation, one that affects the future of the school and the students enrolled here. The university has long prided itself on the diversity of its student body and its educational excellence. If the university, however, is forced to choose between those two goals, it must seek to maintain its academic quality.

As long as the university is noted for the quality of its education and students, it will always be able to attract a diverse student body. Should the university, however, lose its reputation for educational excellence, the quality of applicants will soon begin to deteriorate. It should also be remembered that a reputation once tarnished is virtually impossible to restore. Option A is therefore the choice which best suits the university’s long-term interests.

While Option B which calls for spreading the burden equally appears at first glance to be the correct choice, it is not. Though Option B seems to be “fair” and “democratic,” it is also biased as it inherently favors wealthier students. By giving no preference to better students, the university is effectively forcing students to drop out on the basis of their finances rather than their academic record.

As an institution of higher learning, there should be some effort to emphasize academics instead of money. Most would probably agree that a poor, gifted student has more to offer the university community than a wealthy, mediocre student.

Despite the apparent unfairness of Option A, it should be kept in mind that it is also unfair to not recognize and reward the hard work and achievements of the university’s best students. Above all else it is the quality of the university’s graduates, not their number which is the source of the university’s prized reputation. The university must not dilute that reputation over the long term to ensure short-term diversity of the student body.

In summary, Option A is the financial aid plan which best rewards those students who have struggled to achieve academic excellence and which best maintains the university’s reputation as a quality school. It is for these reasons that the university must choose Option A.

Essay Explanation

In the opening paragraph, state the problem and the available courses of action. Then set forth the option which you favor. Be clear and specific when taking a position.

Following paragraphs should explain the reasoning behind your choosing the position you present. It is useful to state the consequences and benefits of adopting the position you favor and the consequences of not adopting your position.

Be sure that you have fully presented alternative positions. What is it that is appealing about the alternatives, and why are you not persuaded? In essence, why is your choice a better choice?

In your closing paragraph, restate your position and give a summary of the reasoning why you feel it is the best available. Keep your writing focused on the provided topic and avoid going off on irrelevant tangents. Make certain that any assumptions you make are logical, accurate and acknowledged.

Next LSAT: July 15th