Today’s story in the Chicago Sun-Times tells of eight students who received full scholarships to Roosevelt University as part of an inaugural program. Officials started the program, which focuses on low-income families, so that students could focus on achieving high marks in school, instead of worrying about how they could afford college. This quote from the story tells a lot about the power of incentive:
“I think everybody in the school aimed for it,” said 18-year-old Veronica Gonzalez, who also won a scholarship. “It’s a big deal. Our families are mostly low-income. How many kids get a full scholarship like this?”
This comes on the heels of a New York Times OP-ED this weekend that concludes one’s success during education, and ultimately success in life, depend more directly on one’s perseverance of education, and not on inherent intelligence. The piece draws on research done in Richard Nisbett’s recent book, “Intelligence and How to Get It”, and implies that in order to succeed, many students need to simply work harder.
The cost of college is very high in the US, rising about 6% this past year to an average of $25,ooo per year for private institutions and $6,500 per year for public. Most people agree that a quality education is more important today than it has ever been, and performance based incentives including scholarships like those issued at Roosevelt this year are a way that governments can change the direction of the country (note, however, that the Roosevelt scholarships were funded by private donors).
The lessons are obvious from this quote who received a Roosevelt scholarship:
“If you keep trying and trying, I think you’re going to get what you want,” said (Veronica) Gonzalez, who took the ACT three times before obtaining a high enough score to qualify. “I wasn’t going to give up.”