August 07, 2012
Critical Response to
“College Pressures” By William Zissner
“College Pressures” by William Zinsser describes how college students are so worried about getting perfect grades, and are under so much pressure to succeed. It is written from Zissner’s perspective, as the master of Branford College.
The article begins with notes from anxiety filled students asking for advice. The notes are described as, “Authentic voices of a generation that is panicky to succeed” (Zissner 306). They represent only a few examples of the hundreds of messages that are sent asking for advice and help. Throughout the article, Zinsser states which pressures are the most caustic to the success of students; such as, economic worries, peer-pressure, parental expectations, and self-induced. He then separately explains why each of these pressures affects the students.
The reader can be easily confused when Zinsser first begins the article. It starts off with excerpts from notes asking someone named Carlos for help. Zinsser then follows this by fully explaining who is writing the notes, and who the intended recipient is. Zinsser makes the essay move along smoothly with the use of rhetorical questions, which he then answers, to prove a point he is making. “College Pressures” is written in a fairly straightforward manner. Zinsser explains the situations without using terminology that only college professors can comprehend. He also uses understandable metaphors that make the reading more interesting. For example, when he explains that no one is to blame for the pressures, he says, “Poor students, poor parents, they are caught in one of the oldest webs of love and duty and guilt” (308).
The pressure on college students to succeed is outrageous, particularly in today’s economic climate. Tuition costs are rising, while employment and prospects for future employment are falling. The pressure is being received from all...