Monday, January 21, 2013

On sowing what you reap.

There was recently a discussion on the radio about the effects of paying for your child's college education vs making them be responsible for it themselves. The argument was that students tend to work harder in their studies when they have to pay for it themselves. My initial thought was "whatever, I WISH I wasn't a zillion dollars in debt. I would've still worked my butt off because I wanted to get into med school." 

However, it got me thinking. I can't say that would be true because I was raised with the sort of work ethic that you get things by earning them. (Disclaimer: yeah, I am an only child, and I am not denying that I was spoiled as such, but the overall emphasis was that if you want something you have to work for it.) When it came time to get a car, I used my own money, and I think in doing so the car meant more to me. It was my investment on the line so I took care of it, and I was proud of it. That was the argument that the DJs were setting forth.

I went further to reflect on the other side. I recently met a fellow medical student whose father is a psychiatrist. He paid for all of her schooling, and bought her a Lexus. She will finish school debt-free! Let me tell you, I couldn't have been more jealous. It would be amazing to not be buried in debt - to not have to worry about spending the rest of my life paying off student loans. Here's the thing though... as the clerkship went on I quickly saw what kind of work ethic she possessed. From what I heard she would arrive late for nearly every shift, sometimes as much as an hour and a half later than the time she was supposed to arrive, and she seemed to think nothing of it. I could never fathom being that irresponsible. 

In all fairness, I can't necessarily say that A caused B in this situation. Maybe she would still be a poor student even if she hadn't received such incredible handouts. There's no way to know. She is who she is just as I am who I am. However, that does seem to be the general pattern: if you get something for nothing you take it for granted, whereas when you are invested you appreciate the things more and put more effort in to maintain your investment.