Students whose Parents Pay Their Tuition: Do They Get Lower Grades? Possibly.....

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by overedge, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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  2. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

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    My parents paid my tuition. I had a scholarship that paid for my courses, but not my books, student fees, parking pass, etc. My parents paid for those. Had I never received a scholarship, they would've paid for the balance.

    Not sure if those studies take into account the issues of scholarship. By virtue of a student earning a scholarship, the parents were not directly putting in as much money toward their kids' higher education. And by having a scholarship, it's a pretty good chance you were gonna do pretty well scholastically.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  3. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    The first thing that came to mind for me was "But how does that correlate with graduation rates?" because there is a mass of data showing that the main reason college students drop out of school is lack of money. And sure enough:

    the study found a positive association (even controlling for other factors) between increased parental contributions and graduation over five years. In an interview, Hamilton said that she explained this finding (even if apparently contradictory with the results on grades) because those with minimal levels of parental support have a much more difficult job paying for college, and those who can't pay, can't graduate. "Kids who don't have funds, they don't stay," she said.

    Anecdotally, I think students do best if they have some vested interest in their own success but are not burdened with a lot of obligation.
  4. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    I have not read the article in detail, just skimmed over it. I have to completely disagree with this. My parents paid entire educational expenses for all their children and everyone had at least a master's degree. We did get assistantships for schools for graduate work, which paid for all the graduate level expenses. My brother pays for his son's college expenses (all of it) and there is no sign that the kid will drop out. When parents emphasize the importance of good education since childhood, there is not much chance of the kid not completing a degree, regardless of who pays for the education. If the kid values education, he/she will complete the degree. It does not have to do with the 'blank check' this researcher is talking about.

    I find even the topic of this study rather meaningless, and I don't believe she is right in her conclusion. I have not looked at the details of her work, so I don't know what segments of society she was looking at.
  5. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Yup. Even an A student can't keep attending college if s/he can't pay for it or get scholarships.

    I think the most important thing is that you don't squander your time in college. I know I pick my classes more carefully now that I'm paying my own way through a certificate. (Although I don't have to do any GE classes because I already have a bachelor's.)

    My parents paid for most of my tuition and I'm incredibly grateful for it. I know how lucky I am, and how much money that was. I didn't choose to party over attending classes. For some kids who have no idea how much money college costs, it's easy to see how they could spend all their time partying. My grades weren't stellar, but I still insist I was not smart enough to go to my alma mater in the first place. :p But I'm doing pretty ok in life.
  6. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the topic is meaningless at all. As Prancer pointed out, the ability to pay has a lot to do with a student's ability to graduate. So how parental support affects the student's performance, as opposed to other kinds of support (e.g. scholarships, paying your own way) is a very useful question.

    Also, in addition to correlating support with graduation rates, the study is also looking at who pays the student's tuition and its relationship to the student's grades. You can get lower than average grades and still graduate.

    And the data were drawn from three longitudinal federal studies, so I don't think the study focused only on one "segment of society". It's good that the students in your family worked hard to use the support from their parents, but the study seems to suggest that might not be the case for everyone whose parents are paying their way.
  7. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Yet:

    :huh:

    I find her research valuable, even if you don't, because it supports something I have believed to be true based entirely on personal experience--and personal experience is not conclusive.

    When my son started college in the fall, I applied my particular personal experience in this area to set up the requirements we put on him, because I had come to believe that if we simply paid all his bills, he wouldn't try as hard. It is, if nothing else, good for me to be able to point to something more objective.

    I think this work is interesting in terms of my particular students as well. As someone who works with at-risk students, I am always interested in knowing more about what constitutes an obstacle. And there again, this is similar to things I see, even in very poor students--students who have scholarships with stringent requirements invariably do better than students who have scholarships with loosely defined requirements who do better than students who have grants.
  8. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    I think this is true in many cases.

    On the other hand, there are kids like me who felt obligated to make the most of the buttload of money my parents shelled out for my college by working their tails off. I was shocked by kids who had no sense of duty or gratitude to their families for making a top-notch education possible and couldn't believe they'd take it for granted. But maybe I'm just weird. :p
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  9. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    If you're weird, I am, too. My parents paid about a third of my college costs. About a third was from scholarship and the other third grants and loans. Part of the deal with my parents was that if I lost the scholarship, I would be responsible for that share of the money. And they expected good grades regardless and I felt I owed it to them to work hard. My friends in college who had parents helping felt the same way.

    I find the widespread notion that not paying your own way makes you a bad or spoiled or lazy person very unfair. My parents paid for our college partly because my father was kicked out by his father on his high school graduation. He was barely 17 years old. He lost a great life opportunity because of that, and he struggled for years to find a way to get an education after that. He did not want to put his children in that position. It was not his motive to spoil us or to make us lazy. And that is certainly not how it turned out, either.
  10. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how this corresponds with grades obtained in public school prior to college - did they account for that?

    In Denmark, everyone gets a state stipend, plus free tuition. The grades are obviously a wide spread, some people do well, some do poorly.

    One of the big factors I have seen is whether or not your parents have any college degree - people from non-academic families seem to struggle more to adjust, and have less support (some have none, aka why are you wasting your time, I did fine without a degree)
  11. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    That may be a key point. OTOH some parents that don't have college degrees really invest in their children so they can be well educated. Mostly though I think if the parents are educated, they value education and pass it on to their children.
  12. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    Anecdotal only. My FIL had a 3rd grade education. He paid for my husband's first degree (Baylor), my SIL's BA (Univ of Kansas) and Master's in Library Science (University of Arkansas), my BIL's degrees through his doctorate (MIT and Harvard) and another BIL's undergraduate degree (University of Arkansas). He also paid all living expenses which were all off campus. On the other hand, both my father and stepfather (who both had HS diplomas) refused to fill out the financial aid forms for me because "it was none of their business" what they made.

    Got the Air Force to pay for most of my education. :lol:
  13. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Well-Known Member

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    I would expect that parents with a college degree would be the ones to pay for their children's here in the US - as they would know the tuition cost and save in time, and value the education? I'm just wondering how it all fits together...
  14. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering that as well. How did entrance test scores and high school grades compare across the two groups? Also what socio-economic level did the students come from? It is possible that if students perceive that their parents are sacrificing to help pay for their school, they would be more motivated than those with wealthier families where the money is easy to come by. How much does the family value education? Did the study account for these factors?
  15. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    The impact of parental contributions on grades was lower (but still present) at highly competitive institutions. Generally the grades were lowest for students with high levels of support from their parents at private, out-of-state and more expensive colleges.

    I would assume that students at highly competitive schools would generally have had very high grades in high school and very good entrance test scores.

    Significantly, she also controlled for factors such as parental socioeconomic status. She argues in the paper that high wealth levels are associated with higher parental financial contributions, but also with other factors that contribute to academic performance (such as better high school educations, high aspirations for higher education, and so forth). Without controlling for socioeconomic status, those other factors may mask differences in patterns based solely on parental financial contributions.

    And here she found -- across all types of four-year institutions -- the greater parental contributions were, the lower the student grades were.
  16. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if the study has identified a causation issue -- that kids who don't have a personal financial stake in their education get lower grades than students who do -- or a correlation issue -- that kids whose parents pay more of their way tend to be wealthy, entitled, and not necessarily as smart as their peers. It's a little hard to make much from the article because it doesn't really describe the methodology. For instance, take this paragraph:

    I'm not sure what schools fall into which group. There are some private colleges that are very expensive but extremely competitive. They are others that I remember people joking about as the places where the kids of the really wealthy would go because they couldn't get into the good schools. At the latter schools, I can definitely see the privileged kids taking their educations for granted.

    Also, it seems to group kids based on the more total money the parent pays. My immediate thought is that would skew the data. There are a lot of merit-based scholarships that are awarded regardless of need, especially as top schools compete to get the "best" students. Those kids may still be from extremely wealthy families and, without scholarships, would have had their educations paid for. An example is my stepbrother, whose mother is extremely wealthy. He was a straight-A student, had a perfect score on the SAT, and was the top individual scorer nationally in the Academic Decathlon his senior year. Not surprisingly, a lot of schools gave him generous scholarship packages. Then, two years into school, he won a scholarship from Kodak that paid for his final two years of his Ivy League education. In the end, his parents paid very little of his undergraduate tuition and expenses, even though they would have paid it all. So by basic the analysis on how much parents pay, it may identify a group of children from wealthy families, but exclude from that group the children of wealthy families who are most likely to have academic success.

    Another thing that needs to be considered is the impact of legacies and parental wealth on admissions decisions. Legacies get preferences and a lot of rich kids get admitted because the school sees potential donor dollars flowing from the family. At Yale, we used to talk about how different the professional and graduate schools seemed to be from the undergraduates because students had a much lower sense of entitlement. It would not surprise me that, as schools become more expensive and administrations are more and more desperate for donations, the same kids who the author has identified as the ones whose parents pay the most are ones whose family wealth gives them easier pathways to admission at schools that are more academically rigorous than to which might obtain admission under a purely need-blind admissions process.

    The article also makes a point that the children whose parents pay for school tend to be more involved in the Greek system than the other students. That is hardly surprising if the other students have to work outside school or are more focused on achieving their goals. (Also, many scholarships have GPA requirements, so students who need money from outside sources may not have the same opportunity to slack off as their wealthier counterparts.) I suspect a study comparing involvement in the Greek system with grades would show that students who are actively involved in fraternities and sororities get lower grades on average. Just the time demands of the Greek system and the distractions they provide would seem likely to impact grades. On the other hand, as much as I dislike the Greek system, I do see how they can help students network once they graduate.
  17. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    This emphasis on college grades is also highly amusing to me. I thought my grades were pretty subpar for my school. I wouldn't bother applying to med school with them. But they haven't exactly held me back in life. I'm far too lazy for med school anyway. :p

    The only time when your college grades really matter is if you're applying to graduate programs. I don't think many employers even bother checking - they only care if you can do the work, not that you're book smart. And of course, connections and experience matter much more than grades nowadays.
  18. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I don't believe that it does. The part about the Greek system is talking about her book, not her study.
  19. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    Every single job I've applied for has asked for my college transcripts.
  20. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    In the private sector in the US, a transcript is rarely required. Employers typically verify the dates and degree against what's claimed on the resume. My GPA mattered only twice... getting into grad school, and getting a first interview for a management training program once I completed my MBA.
  21. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    For those of you interested in the topic of students who are the first in their families to attend college, I recommend this book.
  22. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I only skimmed the article. I can see where some kids who have their parents pay for everything can slack off, because they don't feel personally invested. But, there are also kids who feel that they have to earn what their parents pay for. Kids who do not have to work, while attending college, can focus more on their studies, so that can make it easier for them to do well. Not saying that kids who work won't do equally well, it's just more pressure and less time. We paid for both of our kids, for undergrad degrees. They are paying for graduate degrees. Son has a significant merit scholarship, so his loans won't be too bad. Daughter is going to a state school and used inheritance from her grandfather to pay for the first year. so, her loans shouldn't be too bad either. But, we felt that they should own the responsibility of grad school. I don't think either one is working harder, or more committed, than in undergrad. Only to the extent that law school/grad school is harder, in and of itself.
  23. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    No job I've applied for has asked for mine.

    Now, when I was first out of school, I did get asked my GPA sometimes in the interviews. But the longer I'd been working, the less that happened and, by 5 years out of college, it never happened ever again.

    My experience in college is that there were always a few kids who didn't really want to be there but were there because their parents were making them be there and were paying their way. These kids rarely did well and certain weren't as dedicated to their education and their grades as the kids who were busting their butt to be there. That doesn't mean no kid whose parent paid their way did well in school. But those of us on scholarship definitely were very aware that we had to keep up a certain grade point average or lose those scholarships. It certainly factored into our decisions about how much time to spend studying vs. doing other things.

    What I find interesting is that the study didn't find that working your way through school had a negative impact on your grades. My personal observations were that working more than 10 hours a week did impact grades negatively. I would like see more on that aspect of it. If my personal observations on that are wrong, I might change some of my approach to Mini-Mac working through school.
  24. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Well-Known Member

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    I know a place like Google asks for your GPA, even if it is years since you graduated - and that it is odd for the industry.

    In Denmark they cared about key grades and the grade for my master thesis when I applied for jobs, not the whole GPA or that I got a barely passing grade in my mandatory electromagnetism course...
  25. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    They never asked for mine. Though I didn't get very far in the interview process. :lol: I'm also more then 30 years out of college and don't have a degree in my field.
  26. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

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    I tell students that GPA mostly matters for getting the first job (and of course for getting into grad school). GPA can be very important in getting the first job, at least if the student is participating in on-campus corporate recruiting. But after the first job, it doesn't seem to matter much at all.
  27. Louis

    Louis Tinami 2012

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    Very interesting and thought provoking research! The basic methodology looks good to me, particularly the part about controlling for parental socioeconomic status. (Given where it's published, I'm assuming how she controlled for it also passes muster.)

    For job candidates, I always ask for undergraduate and graduate school GPA unless the candidate has 10+ years of experience. For a 0-2 years experience job, GPA is a screening criterion and usually plays a significant role in the overall decision. For 3-9 years experience, GPA is more of a sanity check.

    I ask for college transcripts for all entry-level positions as they help me assess the skill set. I'm more interested in what classes a person took than in their major. Without seeing a transcript, I find it hard to assess certain majors -- in particular, social science degrees like psychology, sociology, and even communications. These majors can get into serious quantitative depth, or they can be "fluff." Impossible to say without seeing a transcript.
  28. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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    IME, it usually doesn't matter a whole lot past the first job what university you went to, either.
  29. kwanatic

    kwanatic Well-Known Member

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    I had a scholarship that paid my tuition. It was part of Georgia's HOPE Scholarship that paid all tuition and fees for students with a 3.0 GPA. I earned a 3.8 GPA in high school which got me the scholarship and I maintained a 3.5 during college which allowed me to keep it all 4 years. A lot of people started off with HOPE and then lost it.

    Now HOPE has different restrictions on it (I think you have to have a minimum 3.5 + 1100 on the SAT to get the funding) so it's not as easy to get anymore. HOPE paid for my tuition and fees and I think I got like $300 or $400 towards books (which, as most people know, is good for about two or three books). My housing was paid for by my grandparents and parents. I worked a part-time job to pay for my living expenses (ie. money for food) but other than that my focus was on school. I don't know that I'd have done as well as I did if I had to work more than that, nor would I have been able to earn enough money to cover everything.

    I'm very lucky I kept my scholarship throughout and was able to graduate debt free. I'm the only one out of my siblings who managed to do that; the other three ended up losing the scholarship and had to take out loans.
  30. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I think this is more common than it used to be, mainly because there are so many more people going to college now than there used to be.

    As I always say in these discussions, if you graduated more than 10 years ago, your experience is quite a bit different in some ways than the experiences of current college students.

    I know that there is research that shows that students who work 10-15 hours a week are more likely to graduate than students who don't work at all, but anything over that is a risk factor, which increases (not surprisingly) as the number of hours worked increases. There is also a risk factor associated with working off campus as opposed to on, so for most students, an on-campus job for 10-15 hours a week is considered ideal.

    Much depends, too, on how heavy a courseload Mini-Mac would carry. The majority of college students now work, most of them because they need to, and so it is taking most students, even those who follow the strictly traditional route, longer to get degrees.
  31. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    But don't you think there is an flaw in simply saying parents who "pay more" get diminishing returns (which is basically what is being stated) in reaching the conclusion that the more parents provide financial support to their child's education, the less they get back in terms of grades? The article, which is titled "Spoiled Children," assumes that parents paying for the education, i.e., essentially giving the kid a free ride, causes their kids to receive lower grades.

    There is no doubt in my mind that there are plenty of kids who don't make the most of college, slack off, and treat it like a four-year party. And I also don't doubt that it is a lot easier to do that if someone else is paying the costs. However, I think there are plenty of slackers who have taken out significant loans.

    Also, as I pointed out, academically-achieving wealthy students often receive merit-based scholarships. But for those scholarships, which often are not doled out until the eve of college, those students would fall into the same category as slackers whose parents are paying the full cost. And those students may prepare for college with the same understand as the slackers, i.e., that mom and dad are going to pay for school and may be just as "spoiled" by their parents. The problem I have is that the group being characterized as slackers getting free rides may, despite having their education paid for by their parents, may happen to be disproportionately: (1) students who are less academically inclined (as the more gifted get scholarships and no longer are members of this group); (2) students with learning disabilities and other emotional/psychological issues that affect their grades (but due to parental wealth, may attend college more than similar students for less wealthy families); and (3) students whose family wealth allows them to attend "harder" colleges and universities where they may wind up on the lower-end of the academic spectrum than if they had gone to schools that where they are competing for grades with different students (most wealthy families I know place a lot of emphasis on where their child goes to college and want their kid to go to the "best" school, which they judge by academic reputation). This last factor is something to consider. The people I know will almost always pay the full cost of a school like Berkeley or an expensive private school instead of taking a scholarship to UC Irvine, even if it means their kid gets Bs at Berkeley or Pomona instead of As at Irvine. A kid who doesn't have the same financial freedom, on the other hand, may be more likely to chose Irvine and get As, where the students whose parents are paying the full cost may have chosen Irvine over a scholarship to San Diego State. Those strike me as factors that might skew the data significantly.

    My concern is that these kinds of studies lead people to make broad generalizations and conclusions about education policies, what kind of schools students should attend, and how parents should treat their children as they plan their educational future. Yet without more of an understanding of who the students are in the group that the article is quick to label "spoiled," I am hesitant to draw conclusions or make assumptions about whether this is a causation or correlation issue.
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  32. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if "Project Degree Completion" takes that into consideration ....
  33. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    Anecdotal only, but one of my husband's nieces worked 10 hours a week during the school year and full time during the summer. It took her 9 semesters over 4 1/2 years to graduate. When her younger sister started, her parents ran the numbers and realized that it would be much cheaper if the younger one didn't work at all and took extra credits, including during the summer. The younger one completed her degree in 2 1/2 years and saved her parents about $40,000 in tuition and fees.
  34. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    When Alf was looking for a position after his stint in freelancing, he put his GPA on his resume, even though his degree wasn't even in the same field. :lol: Not sure if it helped him. It wasn't "OMG you're such a genius!" level. Probably as Louis said, a sanity check.

    Always run the numbers! :lol: My friend didn't work at all in college, and graduated in 3 years to save money. Though she tried applying to law school straight after and thought that being so young counted against her....
  35. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    University grades and where you went to uni can matter to certain employers in the US, and matter more in some industries than in others. For example, in consulting for the top firms, it tends to matter. They even asked my SAT scores. :lol:

    As for not working at all during university - a lot of employers want you to have worked. They don't want to be your first job. And in addition to regular part-time work, having done a career-related internship can be key.
  36. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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  37. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    If you apply for a lot of government jobs (ie almost anything that advertises via USAJOBS, not specifically government/political posts) they want transcripts, especially if you're using academic courses for any part of the 'experience' criteria. I don't know if they look at GPAs as much as what courses you took, though.

    I got a much lower GPA in college than high school (didn't prevent me from getting into grad school, but that's because of WHICH undergrad school it was-lower grades there tend to be treated like higher ones from larger "selective" schools) but mostly because I took classes I probably should not have (physics, calculus, etc. There was, sadly, no avoiding statistics at my school, and we all seemed to end up taking it sophomore year.)
  38. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Hated statistics. But, at least you had sophisticated calculators. Back, when dinosaurs roamed, we had to do the math without calculators. Try multiplying permutations and probabilities out on paper :scream::lol:
  39. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    The Chronicle of Higher Education is a newspaper for people who work in higher ed. As with most newspapers, the headlines are written by editors and do not always accurately reflect the content of the article itself. If you read the comments underneath the article, you will see many snarks reflecting the fact that nowhere does this article--or the research it summarizes--say that the students are spoiled.

    The article, if not the headline, make it quite clear that the research says nothing at all like "that parents paying for the education, i.e., essentially giving the kid a free ride, causes their kids to receive lower grades." And the average reader of the Chronicle of Higher Ed will understand the difference.

    I've seen some excerpts from the journal article posted elsewhere and it appears that the differences in grades are statistically significant, but in no way indicate that the kids in question are just blowing off college altogether. They simply aren't working to full potential. The author suggests that the real problem is parents not establishing expectations and requirements.

    Is this really radical?

    Do you know of any policies that aren't based on broad generalizations? That's what statistics do--they identify characteristics of herds. I don't know why people feel the need to point out that generalizations do not apply to everyone and there are exceptions to the rules and and and and. Statistics do not apply to individuals; individual experiences do not negate statistics.

    That said, I don't see any educational policies coming out of this research. It's not like colleges are going to start requiring parents to pay less for their children's educations; that would be self-defeating, if nothing else. What colleges might like to see, however, is parents who demand more accountability from students and so this research might be used in discussions with parents about college. Ultimately, however, the amount of money spent and the school of choice is up to the parents, and I highly doubt that most of them will be swayed by this research, for the same reasons that so many people here, without actually reading the article, dismiss the research.

    My program certainly does and I don't think we are an exception. The longer it takes a student to earn a degree, the higher the risk that the student will not finish the degree. Ohio is planning to cut remedial classes in order to speed things along. Yes, that will work out well.
  40. Louis

    Louis Tinami 2012

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    The article takes a bit of a sensationalistc spin on what seems like good, nuanced research. Parents who pay for their children's education see better graduation rates, but lower grades on average. Doesn't mean this applies to all situations, of course. The takeaway, for me, is not that parents should stop paying for children's education, but rather consider a "social contract" around junior's grades and tuition.

    The abstract and article says that the author's analysis accounts for both level of familial wealth and alternate funding. I don't have easy access to the full article, but there's nothing that fails a sniff test so far.