Thursday, Apr 17, 2014
Columns

Students should be accountable for earing their degree not given it


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Money or power does not buy happiness or high grades, although many affluent and minority students are bailed out of irresponsible behavior by their families and/or government programs. There are many times in the beginning school years that inattention, laziness, cheating and misbehavior are overlooked to appease parents. There comes a time when parental power cannot intervene on behalf of the child.

This parental and overall institutional lowering of standards, expectations and lack of meaningful consequences for unacceptable behavior is having negative results on students being able to remain in college. They may pass through high school without much effort or meet any behavioral standards but they have difficulty remaining in college. Many students believe they are entitled to a college degree without any need to prove it by their academic performance and social appropriateness.

Our modern, overly protective parenting and non-judgmental society has delayed this day of reckoning for too many students. The dumbing down of standards in school through grade inflation, false self-esteem, everybody winning and disregarding outrageous abusive behavior towards others is fostering young people's illusion that they will not be held accountable. Sooner or later an impenetrable wall is reached where parents or bureaucrats are unable to erase the justifiable consequences for young adult’s actions.

A recent study, “More is More, or More is Less?” was published in The American Sociological Review by Laura Hamilton of the University of California, Merced. It found when a major portion of tuition is paid by the parent it leads to lower grades. Students who do not have to contribute to pay for their schooling have less invested in their education and more time and money to become consumed by the social scene.

Taking out $10s of $1000s in loans and scholarships without GPA requirements attached has the same adverse effects as parents being too generous. Hamilton found on the other hand, scholarships and grants contingent on a Grade Point Average requirement to maintain the grant and scholarship money does not negatively affect grades. It motivates students to work harder. Like many things in life, the harder you have to work to obtain your goal, the more you learn and appreciate it.

Students should not believe they are entitled to remain in college just because their parents can easily afford to flip the bill for college or because they are somehow selected to participate in an affirmative action program. These students may be unfortunate to have parent or government program advocates because eventually they will have to perform academically and professionally. Grades should be earned not given to those with powerful family or government ties. We are not a privileged society but one based on merit.

Character and the work ethic do matter. Responsible college professors, employers and judges do make judgments. Eventually, no matter the economic standing or minority status, a person has to demonstrate competency and appropriate social skills. This climb toward excellence takes perseverance

It is best that good work and moral values be established pronto. Delaying the establishing of them by over protective, micromanaging parents, affirmative action short circuiting the system and lax institutional standards is weakening our young people and the overall society.

When a person honestly earns what he receives, everyone gains. The person grows in knowledge and dignity while others receive the pleasure of seeing their child, student, and employee becoming a productive solid citizen of the community.

Receiving a college degree without maintaining high standards of academic excellence and behavior is a disastrous strategy for everyone involved. Giving someone a valuable degree for not mastering the curriculum is a recipe for corruption. Striving to reach a positive stated goal like a higher education degree strengthens the person’s ability to be independent and a self-reliant citizen who has what is necessary to be a future leader.

Our society has to stop rewarding mediocrity and return to a standard of “nothing but quality effort” to earn recognition and acknowledgement of achievement.


Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at www.drmaglio.blogspot.com.

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