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Turning Down a Free Ride?

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Twenty years ago, George Weiss and his then-wife, Diane, offered an entire class of 6th graders an opportunity that would make many students green with envy. Finish high school, the Weisses said, and we'll pay for your college education.

Some kids took full advantage of the offer. For example, Jarmaine Ollivierre, a former special ed student, has earned a slew of degrees and now works as an engineer for NASA.

Despite the standouts, though, only 20 out of the 112 students ended up getting a bachelor's degree. That's less than 18 percent.

Just goes to show you that not even a free ride can keep some kids in school.

4 Comments

Many middle and high school students live only in the present moment. I am wondering what continuous reinforcement was offered to these students to encourage them to pursue this goal over an extended time period.

Many middle and high school students live only in the present moment. I am wondering what continuous reinforcement was offered to these students to encourage them to pursue this goal over an extended time period.

Our first enligthenment with the issue of educational encouragement came as a result of our oldest daughter. She was intent on move to Atlanta and live with her boyfriend rather than attend college. Three members of our family offered her a completely paid four year program to any college of her choice if she would only wait till after school to make her decision to move to Atlanta. The short of it is, she moved to Atlanta and blessed her mother and I with our first grandchild eighteen months later. She has since parted ways with the first man and married another. No, she did not attend school, although she was and is a worthy student. She lives well with her husband who graduated from Un. of Miami with a degree in finance. A nice ending for her, but she is one of the fortunate few.
Offerimg college tuition or other monitary value is not a good answer for encouraging a student to complete an education. That will work for a few. There are as many ways to encourage a student as there are students. There is no one size fits all answer.

I'm always fascinated by what motivates people; why are some driven and others not? Is it (1) the desire to rise above misfortune or (2) is it a desire to reach a certain status? When the two occur in concert, it can be powerful; when one occurs independently, it's hit or miss. For example, if it is only the latter, I doubt a free college diploma is enough incentive to motivate people.

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