If your kids want to be the next Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, they may have a tendency to slack in their schoolwork. In fact, your children’s goals for the future could influence their report cards today, as early as middle-school.
According to a new study, middle-school students who have ambitions that require college are more likely to take school seriously. As part of the study students’ science teachers provided an optional extra-credit homework assignment. The students who wanted a career that required education such as a lawyer, a doctor, or a teacher were 8 times as likely to complete the extra-credit homework. Why do extra work if you want to be a movie star? Movie stars don’t need college.
While most students of all socio-economic backgrounds claim they intend to go to college, many of them do not have it as a focus. To better understand this trend, experts developed two ways of classifying children: education-dependent and education-independent. Education-dependent students are those who focus on careers that involve pursuing higher education, whereas education-independent kids envision futures of being athletes and musicians. These “rockstar” aspirations are often influenced by the media and can be achieved without college.
Researchers conducted a study at three Detroit middle schools where more than half the students lived below the poverty line. Students filled out questionnaires that asked them to divulge their grades, the amount of time they spent on homework per week, and where they saw themselves in ten years. Though nearly 90% of the kids claimed they intended to attend college on a college-specific question, only half expressed an education-dependent future. Unsurprisingly, the students who were education-dependent overall had significantly better grades and invested more time into their schoolwork.
College may be the goal for almost all kids, but only those who see it as essential to their futures will put forth the effort to actually reach that point. In order to set students on an education-dependent path, parents and teachers may wish to stress the importance of steady jobs with living wages. This instruction could be especially beneficial to lower-income students who do not readily see these careers in their communities. Although many kids wish to grow up to be rich and famous, these dreams may actually be counterproductive. Going to college and securing a stable future should be just as much a part of kids’ dreams as becoming a Hollywood actor.