Final Reflection – Michael Mele

I would like to start off by saying two simple words not only to Noel, but the whole class as well… thank you! As I look back on the last six weeks, it almost feels as if it went by as fast as a blink of an eye — and I contribute this to how enjoyable it was. I believe that the whole class complemented one another in a way that made the three hours on Mondays and Wednesdays go by so fast. With the laid back atmosphere, in which I found extremely beneficial in the overall learning experience, and the material discussed, I can gladly say that I’ve learned a ton over this fast paced summer session.

I’ll be the first one to admit that as an engineer, I never found the need to take humanities electives necessary in my overall college experience for several reasons. One, I felt that the classes would have no overall effect or impact with my career in engineering. Two, it seemed like an unneeded cost tacked onto the already outrageous cost of tuition, and three I never really took interest in them. As we approach our final class, I look back on my overall attitude towards these types of courses and realize how much it has changed. Yes, I understand the importance of exceptional writing skills and how detrimental they are in the real world, justifying the need for a ‘W’ course, but this class opened my eyes too much more.

I personally enjoyed my topic that I researched over the duration of this class; why is college tuition so expensive and are colleges turning into corporations? I admit that because I’m not paying for my college tuition personally, I’ve never really looked into this crises that so many of my peers our facing day and day out. Yet, this class has afforded me the opportunity to do so, truly making me more conscious of this flawed higher educational system that we’re all in.

As the son of a business owner myself, I understand the overall concept on competing with competitors in order to not only provide, but to make your business profitable. As for universities all over America, although many will say they’re not businesses, I believe they have the same mindset. With that being said, and with the knowledge gained from my research, I can strongly say that our society as a whole is actually responsible for this issue. To elaborate, the main reason for tuition prices skyrocketing over the last 20 years pertains to the law of supply and demand. As the demand for a college education increases, which results in more students applying to schools, universities are left with two important decisions. Do they expand which would enable them to accept more students, or raise the cost of tuition? In the route of expansion, it would take too many resources and not enough time, so we are left in our current situation, where tuition is rising faster than inflation.

Throughout all of our projects, readings, and discussions, I have found this class extremely helpful and enjoyable and am in shock its already over. When I signed up for this course, I’ll admit that I thought it would be more of a burden than anything. But it was quite the contrary.

Thanks again and I hope everyone has an awesome rest of their summer!



End of session reflection

In all honesty, I have learnt so much in the past 6 weeks. I learnt about issues that I initially thought were of little or no relevance to me but I soon realized that class, labor, and the university is a very inclusive theme that I am considerably knowledgeable about. This is the first elective I take in college (I am a rising junior Bioengineer) and I am glad to say that Writing for the Public completely changed my perspective of writing intensive courses and writing in general.

Once Noel chose our class theme and portrayed it to be student debt and adjunct professor based I immediately thought there was no reason for me to be in such a class setting. I was clueless about student debt and the whole issue (university funding and underpaid professors) in general. I personally never imagined that the majority of college students in the US needed to borrow loans to get through college. Let alone be traumatized by having to pay off their debt for the rest of their lives. I did not recognize student debt as a major issue. A reason could be that I never experienced it and I am so grateful for that.

WFP comforted me in sense as our class discussions and blog posts served to reassure me that I didn’t neglect student debt but it’s an issue that is actively being kept away from us. I feel it was never addressed adequately nor appropriately considering it’s one of the more important issues to many of the people who I have spent the past 2 years around. Sure, the main responsibility of our professors it to teach us about the classes we enrolled for and to prepare us for the “real world” by helping shape us into better individuals. But shouldn’t increasing student debt awareness be of part of that? How come our intellectual guest speakers never addressed student debt to be the top concern for the majority of graduate students? Our advisors appear to have a vision and are anxious about our schooling. They persuade us to study abroad and take on more experiences but never mention what sacrifices (due to paying off student debt) we will have to make in the future….

I enjoyed many aspects of this class more than I thought I would. Even though it has been a very high paced session the workload and deadlines were reasonable. The organization has been phenomenal; definitely one of the most organized classes I’ve had so far. Having the whole class schedule posted a head of time is very convenient.

I was never a fan of twitter, I also hated the idea of having to write or respond to weekly blogs. My analytic, engineering swamped brain thought of it as another way of wasting time. I was wrong and ended up spending my own time time reading external blogs besides completing the assigned homeworks. Blogging and tweeting are hubs for exchanging ideas freely. I enjoyed commenting on, reading, and writing the blogs. It added a different angle to exposing the truth about our universities.

Generally, I have always been dubious as to what the students’ tuition fees gets spent on and what aspects of the university our money ends up going towards (funding/sustaining). But, like 70% of students who are in debt, I have also been brainwashed to believe that all this tuition money is worth the education and the degree we get in return. Unfortunately, this is another misconception my research cleared up as a lot of graduating students and adjunct professors will never pay off their student debt.

With that being said, I am still curious as to how much of our tuition fees go towards funding research activities. However, besides forming links from fetching data from various sources I am yet to find concrete data for the funding of research from within Pitt. I do not see a reason as to why this data shouldn’t be accessible to us as students….

All the best on your audio essay!

Thanks for a great class and theme Noel 🙂


As a student that came from China, English isn’t my first language nor a class that I particularly excel at. With this in mind, coming into this class to fulfil my last W requirement was something that I had dreaded before coming in. With all sincerity, I must admit how wrong I was as this class was totally different than what I had expected. Though there was undoubtedly many challenges as I needed a lot of extra effort to make sure my English was up to par with my classmates and that I corrected my grammar for the many assignments we wrote in this 6 week course, I honestly can say that it was worth it. Especially through the blog posts and the way that we communicated with each other in this short time span, I felt that I understood a lot more and the teacher and classmates were the ones that contributed most to my learning experience.

This class has truly taught me a lot and made me realize the importance of writing in our daily lives. As we seemingly are interested in subjects like sociology, economics, or humanity, they still require us to have extensive writing skills in order to communicate with each other. At the same time, learning about the different types of white paper, blogs, and other pieces of writing made me critically think about how I should expect to improve my writing. I think this was the major concept of this class and I am glad that I was able to understand it through this class.

My angle for this class focused upon the rising costs of tuition that is inherently linked to the increasing student debt. As an international student who faces a tremendous financial strain by attending school in the US, I feel that this is something that is highly relevant to myself. As I am even without the option of having student loans, I feel that there is a need to justify the high tuition with my college experience. Though the professors are undoubtedly some of the best in the world, the fact identified by Segran regarding the high administrative costs is truly shocking. Though these administrator’s salaries may or may not be justified, I believe that the true shock is how our professors who are primarily responsible for teaching us are becoming increasingly disadvantaged through less pay and benefits. Undoubtedly, these professors are what makes up the core of the university and should deserve to be compensated as such. Personally, this class really gained my interest in this subject and I feel that this is something I want to explore further while studying here in the US.

Overall, I think that this class really taught me the importance of critically evaluating different situations and being able to communicate with others through my writing. I want to especially thank Dr. Noel and my peers for all the support they’ve shown me and the patience they have in commenting on my posts and challenging me to critically think about different issues. I really appreciate the effort and want to thank everyone for such a great summer class!


As the last writing course to fulfil the W requirement of my class, I must say that I have learned so much in such a short time. At the beginning of the class, I was very concerned about my ability to do well and to catch up in learning and writing the different white papers, blogs, comments. Though I had initially prepared myself mentally knowing the challenges I will face later on in this course, I was still caught unaware given the massive amount of knowledge that I learned and the different scenarios with different issues and writing. To be honest, I was surprised by my growth through this class and really appreciate how this course incorporated different aspects to create such a diverse and challenging 6 weeks.

I think that this class would ultimately be useful to my future career in both school and career as it taught me valuable lessons that I can carry with me for the rest of my life. Firstly, I recognized that writing is one of my weaker points and was astonished by how much I improved throughout the course, mainly thanks to the support of my peers. At the same time, the issues that we studies and discussed challenged me as it made me think critically of different viewpoints. As I was always a firm believer of the system and authority, this class made me realize the importance of being able to critically think for myself and analyze the situation with information that may not always be present.

The angle that I choose is a perfect example of why we need to critically think. As I sought to focus my angle on the issue of the rising student debt and the financial burden on students, I realized that contrary to what we believe, universities may not be actually improving despite the increases in endowment and funding. From the Segran article, I came to understand the cost structure of the university and was somewhat disappointed through the way the university have increased the administrator budget by so much yet kept the number of professors relatively even. As professors make up the core of what the university has to offer, this really made me kind of upset that they are even seeing a decrease in their pay and benefits while the number of administrators for these universities have increased. In a way, this made me realize the importance of the business aspect as universities are turning more towards model that seeks to maximize their business. At the same time, I believe that through our knowledge, we are able to illicit change within the system and ultimately help ourselves improve the situation.

In a way, I took this course to fulfil a W requirement and left the course with a rapidly different mindset. Through the help of my peers and professor, I became more willing to challenge myself to think critically for myself. Especially through the issue of student debt, I realized that we need to take action and think of ways to resolve the issue, the problem wouldn’t solve itself. Thus, I would like to thank everyone in this class who contributed to make this course such a wonderful experience. Have a great summer everyone!



I have really enjoyed all of the work we have done in this class. Specifically, I thought the topic of student loan debt and the university in general was relevant and applied to all students. It’s also an area that is rapidly changing and evolving with the push towards Mooc’s and free online learning.

For me, exploring the issues we have read about has been encouraging in the way that I know I’m not alone in the desire to further myself through learning and education or alone in the decision to take out student loans in order to make that education and learning possible.

I don’t necessarily think of the University in a different way. This University is just evolving with the rest of the world and trying to essentially survive. I’ll use a little personification in saying that I think that this University has its “heart” in the right place. This institution has been here since the late 1700’s and has contributed in major ways to the world. Pitt alumni, researchers and professors have solved life-altering problems, made important discoveries and contributed in ways that have positively impacted us today. And that was during the 1800’s and early 1900’s, when tuition was probably $5.00 a year. I feel that today, the University as a whole still gives so much back to the community and society through research, volunteerism, and an excellent, well-rounded education which produces prepared, innovative and capable graduates.

This University like so many others seems to have to compete to survive which partly results in rising tuition costs. However, I truly believe that there are ways to cut student tuition costs that would in the long run benefit both the student, the university and the economy in general. My research focus was instituting a work program for students that would essentially pay for part of their tuition in exchange for working in jobs at the University. This savings in the long run would be substantial, especially if you look at the savings over a four-year period. There are many universities and colleges who are starting to offer these programs to help cut tuition costs. And from what I have read, they have been successful in educating students to a high standard and graduating them with zero student debt.

Overall, I really enjoyed all of the projects in this class. I was really excited to learn about infographics, as they are a huge part of media today. There are even positions or jobs dedicated solely to making infographics! I thought that was really interesting. So it was an important skill to learn and is very relevant to the workplace today. I really enjoyed the range of writing and genres we were assigned as well. My favorite reading was the “Pedagogy of Debt” and “Student Debt and the Spirit of the Indenture”, by Jeffery Williams. They were really interesting and coming from someone who has lived through the extreme rise in tuition costs was interesting because he was able to explain the extreme acceleration in tuition from the point of view of actually seeing it happen over time.

Reflection – Lexi

With the class coming to an end, I’ve spent time reflecting on my experience. Unlike most of my classes at the University of Pittsburgh, I feel as though I have learned more than just arithmetic and grammar. This class has taught me how to become aware of the issues surrounding my environment. I had no idea ha teachers were underpaid. In fact, similar to Greg I thought that most of my teachers were rolling around in a Porsche.

I think by being informed, I able to have a new appreciation for teachers. Before I would become frustrated because he would not get back to my email soon enough or grade my test in a timely manner. Looking back I realize there are several teachers juggling several jobs just to make ends meet. Additionally, by focusing on a specific issue for 6 weeks I was able to build his sense of diminishing public issues. Before his class I would never consider advocating for an issue that didn’t directly affect my life. By intensely researching his topic I developed a sense of urgency and empathy for teachers.

This class has also brought me to think about my own personal research angle for this project. I focused on the struggle for low income students to climb the social ladder. Although I am a first generation student, my parents are supportive. I didn’t realize how lucky I truly was to have encouraging circumstances. By writing about this topic, I am able to visualize the daily struggles for a high achieving low income student. I really enjoyed writing about this topic for several reasons. first I like the idea of bringing public issues to life by having classmates read my writing. I feel as though I was impacting and influencing my peers. I think his helped me improve upon my persuasive writing. Additionally, I liked being able to talk about my issue because people in the class room had similar opinions. we were easily able to collaborate ideas.


I always have such a hard time choosing what writing classes to take, with a lot of the reason being that I rarely ever enjoy them. After the past five and a half weeks I can honestly say that this is the most enjoyable writing class that I’ve taken.

I not only learned so much about writing itself, but also so many things that I was clueless about regarding our class topic, class and labor issues at the university. Even though this class was only a short six weeks long I think that I gained more knowledge overall than I usually would in a full semester long class, which is kind of interesting to think about. I particularly appreciated that such a large portion of class time was dedicated to our discussions regarding all of the different topics and articles, allowing us to learn more about several aspects of the topic rather than the one we chose to focus on. I think it’s really important that we, as students, are aware of the issues that we discussed because of how much of it is affecting our present day and most likely our future lives as well.

I really liked that all of our projects were different genres rather than just writing several different papers on different topics, which is pretty much what my other writing classes consisted of. I’m not sure that I can say which of the projects was my favorite; they were all so different and taught such different techniques. I think I’ll definitely benefit from learning each of the four genres at some point in my future.

My angle on the topic that I chose for the semester was the issue of rising student debt. I knew that it was a problem, but I didn’t know how big of a problem it really is. I am lucky enough to not have to deal with a very large amount of student debt myself, so I wasn’t aware of how bad it can get. After all of the research that I’ve done for this class, I am able to look at the issue in a completely new light and for the first time I feel that I actually want to continue to research my topic after the class ends.

I am now able to look at so many things in a new and different way because of everything we discussed in this class. Even things that seem so minor such as professors OMET surveys (that so many people to choose to ignore) and how big of an impact they can have for an adjunct professor. I’m very pleased with my decision to choose this class as my last W requirement and also pleased that I chose to take it during the six-week summer course. To be honest I’d rather come back to this class next Monday instead of starting the philosophy class that I’m taking during the next summer session lol. Thanks for a great six weeks, guys.