If you’re one of the many Eastern Michigan University students who deal with the stress of juggling a job, attending classes and having a mountain of student loan debt growing with every semester, it may be hard to imagine a downside to having someone else pay for your college education.
But according to a study done by Laura Hamilton, an assistant professor of social sciences at the University of California, students whose parents bear the financial burden of their education tend to get lower grades than those who pay their own way.
However, regardless of whether a student’s parents are paying or not, a high-level of personal investment is vital for true collegiate success.
It may be tempting to assume a college student who enjoys freedom from the pressure to make money in order to not only continue their education, but simply survive, would have more time to devote to her studies.
But the conclusion Hamilton drew from her study is that students who make no financial investment in their education, simply don’t take it as seriously as those forced to make tough economic decisions and regularly evaluate whether attending college is worth the time and future debt.
Of course, this doesn’t mean every single student whose parents pay for their education is an unappreciative slacker, taking advantage of their socioeconomic status to look at Facebook instead of paying attention to a lecture. But the trend Hamilton found suggests such a student is more typical than a wealthy student on the Dean’s list.
Though a University of Michigan study found 62 percent of young adults receive some financial support from their parents, a study in the Journal of Adult Development found when parents paid for absolutely everything for their college-student, “their children worked the fewest hours and were engaged in the greatest number of risk behaviors.”
And it makes sense. A student who pines over whether he’ll be able to sell a textbook back for even a quarter of the original purchase price (and whose ability to buy groceries depends on such things) is more likely to actually read the book than the student who simply hands over his mom’s Visa at the bookstore.
To me, the very simple solution is this: Regardless of financial status, every student should be required to contribute in some way to their own education— even if it’s just a fraction of tuition, even if it comes in the form of a work-study program.
When an education becomes something one is forced to sacrifice for, it becomes a thing to be revered and respected.