The Missing Link

The Missing Link January 18, 2013

The missing link for many young adults is the one that runs from ownership/possession/gadget to labor. That is, a connection is broken between how much one has to work in order to own something (like an iPhone). Because so many are given so much the connection between labor and possessions is broken. One of the best things we can do for our children is to hold back things until a given amount of labor is expended.

So I like this brief post:

a new study…found that the more money (in total and as a share of total college costs) that parents provide for higher education, the lower the grades their children earn.

The findings — particularly grouped with other work by the researcher who made them — suggest that the students least likely to excel are those who receive essentially blank checks for college expenses.

The Inside Higher Ed piece is here.  The NYT piece is here.  Here is a summary of the research from the researcher, Laura Hamilton. …. [More at the link above.]

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  • I’m wondering, if a parent takes money away from their kids, do their grades go up even more? Cuz, like, wow, that would be awesome.

  • scotmcknight

    jeff, an analogy: athletes generally have higher grades during season than out of season.

  • Joe Canner

    Interesting; but kind of a moot point for those of us who can’t afford to help pay for our children’s college education.

  • RJS

    I don’t buy the cause and effect here. I rather expect that, as noted in the article linked: “perhaps parental paying practices are proxying for other features of the situation.”

  • RJS

    From the higher ed piece linked:

    A second pattern Hamilton discovered in that study of one dormitory (and that she believes is the case nationally) is that the lowest grades were earned by children whose parents essentially supported them without much discussion of student responsibilities. The negative impact of high levels of parental financial support was mitigated or eliminated by parents who set clear expectations for their children about grades, graduating on time or other issues, she said. This extends to all levels of parental support for students.

    The problem is that most parents who give a lot of money are apparently less than demanding about expectations.

  • They saved themselves the trouble and read Dear Coquette.

  • Ray

    “Because so many are given so much the connection between labor and possessions is broken. One of the best things we can do for our children is to hold back things until a given amount of labor is expended.”

    Wait…how are the older generations modeling this to the young adults? Is this missing link not indicative of a larger cultural issue of living far beyond one’s means in irresponsible ways, both on an individual and a government level? For this is the whole foundation of the massive credit industry – to suspend the link between cost and reward. I suppose credit is not inherently bad if handled in responsible ways, just as free schooling can be enjoyed in responsible & appreciative ways through achievement. But neither one is the norm now, is it?

    It is far too easy to take a “free” gift (given on the front-end) for granted, rather than viewing it as a blessing to be treated with responsibility and gratitude (for no gift is never free; someone paid or will pay for it at some point). Whether that gift be tuition, possessions . . . or salvation.

  • Chad Davies

    In what may be a related phenomenon, we see a lot of the same behavior in students who receive financial aid, whether that be in terms of grants or loans at the local TYC/State College I work at. When the granting agency expects the student to come to meeting and talk about college as a condition of the aid (as might be the case with a Lion’s Club scholarship or some such), the student seems to understand that they are responsible for the money and how it is used and thus does better. This is merely anecdotal evidence but it seems to mirror the study cited.

    What this makes me wonder is whether it would be useful for students receiving aid to have to attend some sort of seminar that makes it clear that the scholarship dollars are society’s investment in them that they are responsible for providing a return on. Have any of the readers seen programs of this sort being offered at academic institutions around the country?

  • Scott

    Self-absorbed, “entitled” young adults didn’t get that way when they show up for college. We’re so concerned about the immaturity of college kids and we should be. But are we being honest about how we’ve been idolizing our children from birth? Jesus said, “whoever loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. Ouch. No one wants to write a parenting book based on that text. It probably wouldn’t sell…