Assumptions lead to fallacies and blunders
Much of our lives involve playing with rules. So, it would be surprising if, as a society, we weren’t increasingly bothered by so-called rules that aren’t really rules at all.
As elementary, middle, and high school students navigate to be accepted into college, studies indicate that some bad habits are taking root. Colleges have an onerous commitment to “learning from mistakes” in an ever-changing world. Whether this promise is treated as a motherhood requirement or an academic goal should become clearer if certain actions become prevalent.
It’s the study of feelings — individuals and situations — rather than the planning of outcomes or the projection of outcomes that lead to blunders. Assumptions lead to reward bias — such as that heavier books, larger print, and higher educational aspirations are signs of higher status and a fulfilling academic experience — whereas anticipating outcomes can be the basis for predictions of failure.
Instead of good intentions and love, research has shown a kind of self-deception that encourages all of the assumptions above. It manifests as instances in which financial aid may be offered, but the student’s ACT score isn’t factored in, or that the student can request a Social Security number, even though students’ Social Security numbers are often linked to records of marital status, financial records, and health histories. At one institution, accommodations were made for accommodation applications with the student’s current Social Security number because it was “the most common means of identification that the staff and reviewers had access to.” Clearly, researchers shouldn’t be surprised that the student’s other identification information may not be readily available.
It takes time for students to earn a sense of equal or greater authority, and it takes longer for acceptance to be accepted. And, as lower rankings lead to reduced financial aid, it takes even longer for that sense of worth and distinction to become real for students. Taking this to its extreme, it is not unusual for students to move from one institution to another in search of the right fit without having another opportunity to improve their test scores.
Lack of financial aid becomes that much more of a factor for students facing a big financial decision such as whether to attend college. As students acknowledge the financial dynamics of institutional financial aid, support can also be imperfect: When the student’s first financial aid package was delayed, the waiting list reached the amount of $88,651, meaning students who wished to get in this year had to pay their own way. But this process of “gaining admission” into one institution and not then being approved for a second time (because of changes in the student’s financial situation) adds a lot of stress and expense to students’ success, since the school-to-school transfer fee is 2.5% of the $800 student’s final tuition.
Without a financial and athletic scholarship, many students might stay home. Additionally, they might drop out because they are not working enough or because they can’t pay the application fees. The costs of moving, accreditation re-evaluations, application fees, and fees from universities are enormous. These often also carry negative statements in the transcript and high failure rates, which can lead to disciplinary action, applications to other universities, and even permanent expulsion.
While student sacrifice might be a phenomenon that is expected in the college search process, it sometimes seems unfair to ask students to give up the hopes and dreams they have for their futures — for themselves and for their families.
Any university’s policies could be unfair and onerous, but as the overall cost of education increases, it is important that people with good intentions think about the possibility that they are inadvertently contributing to a detrimental trend.
Every student should realize that if he or she can’t pay, the university will not give it back. “If you’re not willing to contribute the money, you can’t have the right to receive the support,” a legal secretary explains. But more often than not, the parents simply don’t feel that they are good enough parents to cover the costs of their student’s education or that they should. By the time a child finds herself facing a semester with an ever-changing schedule and students who look to them for help navigating the unwieldy course load, the parents have probably felt overwhelmed and discouraged. As parents, we may not realize how much we can gain from creating a trusting, nurturing environment for our children. In this way, we may be able to help them escape the indoctrination from our own schooling and by taking control of their own financial reality.