Common App Essay Prompt 2012 Presidential Candidates

During this election season, it’s often been a game of he said-he said. Americans rarely, if ever, get insight into where the candidates’ heads—and not their speech writing teams’ or campaign managers’—are at when it comes to certain issues.

In a recent issue of Time, the candidates let readers in on their thoughts on higher education in two separate-but-equal articles. Here are highlights and excerpts from both articles, where each shared their personal views, in their own words.

Obama’s Thoughts: “Don’t Stop Now”

  • Giving our kids the best education possible shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue—it’s an American issue.

  • Today more than ever, the education we provide for our children and our workers is the key to a good job and a secure middle-class life.

  • The good jobs of tomorrow will demand more than a high school education.

  • As we work to graduate more students prepared for college and a career, we’re also working to make higher education more affordable.

  • In a 21st century economy, higher education cannot be a luxury; it is an economic necessity every family should be able to afford.

  • Hiring more teachers actually does grow the economy.

  • Together, we can recruit 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade.

  • No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.

  • We can work with colleges and universities to cut tuition growth in half over the next 10 years.

  • There’s no substitute for a good school or the teacher who stands at the front of the classroom.

  • No company should have to look for workers in China because it couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home.

  • We can give 2 million workers the chance to attend their local community college and arm themselves with the skills that will lead directly to a job.

Check out more of Obama’s words in his Time article.

Romney’s Thoughts: “Demand Real Change”

  • Today our higher-education system faces serious challenges.

  • Innovation is only part of the solution.

  • We must also address costs.

  • Endless government support only fuels skyrocketing tuition.

  • It is crucial that we focus not only on access to higher education but also on successful completion.

  • Far too many students drop out before finishing their degree, ending up disenchanted and in debt.

  • We need to make sure that students have the support and preparation they need to thrive in a post-secondary environment.

  • Our economy is demanding more advanced skills and more varied skills every day.

  • We also need to expand the options available to students.

  • While the federal government has an important role to play in providing access through financial aid, the uncontrolled flood of federal dollars into the system is not the answer.

  • Our higher-education system must be responsive to these demands if it is to offer students an attractive return on their investment, prepare them for successful careers and help America compete in the global marketplace.

  • Other models of advanced skills training are becoming ever more important to success in the American economy, and new educational institutions will be required to fill those roles.

Read more of Romney’s words in his Time article.

So, wherever you stand politically, remember the issues that are most important to you when headed to the polls. If you’d like to compare the candidates’ written words with their track records, check out our Election 2012 article.

Who are you voting for this November?

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Map of the 2012 presidential primaries and caucuses by month and state
Source: "The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar,", Aug. 24, 2011

"In the early twentieth century there was a movement to give more power to citizens in the selection of candidates for the party's nomination. The primary election developed from this reform movement. In a primary election, registered voters may participate in choosing the candidate for the party's nomination by voting through secret ballot, as in a general election.

There are two main types of primaries, closed or open, that determine who is eligible to vote in the primary. In a closed primary a registered voter may vote only in the election for the party with which that voter is affiliated. For example a voter registered as Democratic can vote only in the Democratic primary and a Republican can vote only in the Republican primary. In an open primary, on the other hand, a registered voter can vote in either primary regardless of party membership. The voter cannot, however, participate in more than one primary. A third less common type of primary, the blanket primary, allows registered voters to participate in all primaries.

In addition to differences in which voters are eligible to vote in the primary, there are differences in whether the ballot lists candidate or delegate names. The presidential preference primary is a direct vote for a specific candidate. The voter chooses the candidate by name. The second method is more indirect, giving the voter a choice among delegate names rather than candidate names. As in the caucus, delegates voice support for a particular candidate or remain uncommitted.

In some states a combination of the primary and caucus systems are used. The primary serves as a measure of public opinion but is not necessarily binding in choosing delegates. Sometimes the Party does not recognize open primaries because members of other parties are permitted to vote."

"How Does the Primary Process Work?," (accessed Aug. 29, 2011)

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