The American Opportunity

This paper argues that one is able to express their American Creed by taking advantage of the distinct opportunities offered to them as Americans, and proposes that the best way for people to express their American Creed via action is by taking advantage of these opportunities.

By Reed C. from Staples High School in Connecticut

“The Constitution only guarantees you the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself” is the fundamental idea behind America in the words of Benjamin Franklin. This illustrates the concept of the American dream and the unique opportunities one receives as an American. This right to freedom and liberty that Americans experience is unmatched around the globe and has led to the use of phrases such as the beacon of freedom to describe the country to the large number of immigrants that come or seek to come to America for a better life. It is by taking advantage of these opportunities that one can truly express his or her beliefs about America and show pride in being an American. In other words, one can express his or her American Creed by exercising the ability to pursue the opportunities that exist in America that give the possibility to achieve success if one is dedicated enough.

One of the greatest opportunities one is afforded as an American is the education system which provides the means for people to move up in society and achieve prosperity in life. The education system rewards those who put in the effort and allow for equal opportunity to achieve success. Although the quality of education is not uniform across the country, there are certain programs in place that help address this issue such as affirmative action or the adversity score with the SAT, both of which are aimed at addressing the innate inequality in the American education system. Specifically, at least partially, affirmative action is made with the goal “to improve employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and for women” (The Editors). This allows for certain groups which are discriminated against to receive a fair opportunity to achieve a good education. Similarly, the adversity score for the SAT, “summarizes—on a scale of one to 100—the disadvantages that students suffer when they grow up in troubled neighborhoods and attend high-poverty schools” (Kahlenberg). Both programs increase the equality in the education system in that they allow people who did not have the same opportunities or grew up in disadvantaged neighborhoods, to share in some of the same opportunities as those who did not face the same hardships. Furthermore, this illustrates how in America many steps are taken to ensure all students are given the same access to education regardless of their background. Although a common critique of the American education system is the price of higher education and the inability of lower-income students to attend prestigious universities, the argument misses an important concept, the idea that “in the case of Yale and Harvard, if a student's family earns less than $60,000 a year, they will pay nothing for their education” (Roos). This is one important example of how socioeconomic status is not as great of a problem as it is perceived to be. The education system provides a great opportunity for Americans to express the American Creed in that they are embodying the core ideals of America, the ideas of individualism and if one works hard, they will be able to better their situation.

Aside from education, one of the greatest opportunities offered in America is the capitalistic economic system in which anyone has the ability to achieve success no matter their background. The is evident by the unemployment rate of 3.6%, the lowest it’s been since 1969 (Long). This large availability of jobs showcases how almost all Americans have the ability to achieve some form of success and the ability to support themselves and their family. Furthermore, the minimum wage exists in order to ensure that this wage is livable and allows one to support their family. The record low unemployment rate illustrates a prime way in which Americans are able to express their American Creed, in that by getting these jobs and contributing to American society, they are showing their beliefs about America and taking advantages of the opportunities this country has to offer. 

Furthermore, the capitalist society also lends itself to another great opportunity that exists in America, the idea of starting one’s own business. America has often been a haven for innovation with many of the largest businesses in the world starting here. In fact, “all of the world's 10 largest companies as measured by market capitalization are American [...] and are the embodiment of “all-American” qualities such as innovation and industry” (Picardo). This showcases how America is the land of opportunity for entrepreneurs; however, one does not need to start a Fortune 500 company or even a large successful business to express the American Creed. An individual just needs to attempt to achieve success, to take advantage of the “wide variety of funding sources: investment firms, banks, venture capitalists and angel investors” (Newman) that exist in America which encourages individualism and innovation. These capital resources allow for someone with a good idea and a drive to start their business, and there is nothing more American than doing so. There is no better way to express one’s American Creed then by taking advantage of an opportunity in front of them and achieve their American dream.

The American Creed is different for every person as every American has a unique set of beliefs that define who they are, but the uniting factor among all Americans is the drive to succeed for themselves and their families. There is no better way to demonstrate these ideas than by pursuing the American dream through hard work and buying into the idea of America. To do so, one must take advantage of the opportunities that are given to all Americans from birth, the opportunity to control your own life and live a free life. By not doing so, one would not be demonstrating the American Creed and failing to take advantage of the opportunities those who live elsewhere strive to have.

Works Cited

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Affirmative Action." Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 May 2019. Accessed 8 June 2019.

Kahlenberg, Richard. "An Imperfect SAT Adversity Score Is Better than Just Ignoring Adversity." The Atlantic, 25 May 2019. Accessed 8 June 2019.

Long, Heather. "U.S. Unemployment Fell to 3.6 Percent, Lowest since 1969." Washington Post, 3 May 2019. Accessed 8 June 2019.

Newman, Pia. "Top 10 Best Countries to Start a Business in 2019." Wifi Tribe, 6 May 2019, 10 of the World's Top Companies Are American. Accessed 8 June 2019.

Picardo, Elvis. "10 of the World's Top Companies Are American." Investopedia, 30 May 2019. Accessed 8 June 2019.

Roos, Dave. "How Ivy League Admissions Work." How Stuff Works, Accessed 8 June 2019.

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