Category Archives: Parenting

The myth of the college dropout

Jonathan Wai, Duke University and Heiner Rindermann, Chemnitz University of Technology

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was asked to give this year’s commencement address at Harvard, he asked for advice from Bill Gates. The Conversation

Zuckerberg said, “They know we didn’t actually graduate, right?”

To which Gates replied, “Oh, that is the best part! They actually give you a degree!”

This recent exchange between two famous Harvard dropouts might lead you to think college doesn’t matter. Numerous media stories and even famous billionaires are glamorizing dropouts or encouraging kids to skip college entirely.

While it’s true there are successful college dropouts, statistically speaking, they are not the norm. As researchers in education and talent, we found that the vast majority of the country’s success stories are college graduates, such as Sheryl Sandberg (Harvard), Jeff Bezos (Princeton) and Marissa Mayer (Stanford).


The myth of the mega-successful college dropout

In a recent study, we investigated how many of the wealthiest and most influential people graduated college. We studied 11,745 U.S. leaders, including CEOs, federal judges, politicians, multi-millionaires and billionaires, business leaders and the most globally powerful men and women.

We also examined how many people graduated from an “elite school.” (Our definition included the eight Ivy League schools, plus many of the top national universities and liberal arts colleges consistently high in the U.S. News rankings for both undergraduate and graduate education.)

We found about 94 percent of these U.S. leaders attended college, and about 50 percent attended an elite school. Though almost everyone went to college, elite school attendance varied widely. For instance, only 20.6 percent of House members and 33.8 percent of 30-millionaires attended an elite school, but over 80 percent of Forbes’ most powerful people did. For whatever reason, about twice as many senators – 41 percent – as House members went to elite schools.

For comparison, based on census and college data, we estimate that only about 2 to 5 percent of all U.S. undergraduates went to one of the elite schools in our study. The people from our study attended elite schools at rates well above typical expectations.

Do elite schools matter?

This year, elite schools saw an increase in applications and selectivity. Research suggests there is no difference in adult income between students who attended highly selective schools and students with similar SAT scores who attended less selective schools. At least for long-term earnings, where you go may not be critical, as long as you attend and graduate.

Yet, our data show that for students with talent and motivation to make it to the top of U.S. society, an elite college might just help you get there – whether it’s the networks you acquire or the brand on your resume.

While looking at over 11,000 successful leaders, we rarely encountered people who came from extremely poor or disadvantaged backgrounds. Helping disadvantaged talented students enter elite schools could promote diversity among future leaders.

Princeton University had a record-setting number of applicants for its class of 2021.
Sindy Lee / flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

College matters

Admittedly, the educational path of the cream of the crop may not apply to most people. So, going to college may not be the right or even the best path for everyone. However, if you’re a student thinking about not going to college or considering dropping out, remember that even Gates and Zuckerberg got into college. Even if you’re not aiming for mega success, doing the work to get into and graduate from college today may open important doors.

Perhaps in the future, college may not be as important to employers. But for now, college dropouts who rule the world are rare exceptions – not the rule.

Jonathan Wai, Research Scientist, Duke University and Heiner Rindermann, Professor of Educational and Developmental Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

We asked children why they don’t get enough exercise – here’s what they said

Helen Ingle, Leeds Beckett University and Susan Coan, Leeds Beckett University

Getting children off the sofa, away from the TV and outside can be a challenging task for any parent, particularly in the age of increasingly sedentary and screen-focused lives. The Conversation

To stay healthy, it is currently recommended that children do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. But this has been in decline in recent years. And now only 21% of boys and 16% of girls in England are meeting current recommendations.

This lack of activity has major implications for the health of children, including an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Research has also shown that this can impact children’s mental health and well-being, along with their academic performance.

Children’s physical activity levels are of course influenced by a whole array of factors, including friends and family, schools and teachers, and the area they live in.

Free outdoor fun.

To help better understand the factors that can help or hinder the physical activity levels of children today, my colleagues and I recently conducted a study to explore the barriers UK children face when it comes to being physically active.

As part of the research, we spoke to 133 children between the ages of seven and 11 in various schools in England and Wales. And discovered two main barriers for children when it comes to exercise: screen time and hectic family lifestyles. Two things that I’m sure many parents can relate to.

With this in mind, I’ve outlined below some ways you can overcome these obstacles and help get your children more active in the process.

1. Change the way children use screen time

Many of the children in the study reported having access to a wide range of screen options such as computers, tablets and mobile phones. And many of them talked about the addictive nature of being on screens – saying that they can often while away hours at a time.

One child told us how his normal weekend usually involves a high amount of screen time:

Normally, at weekends, I just wake up, watch TV. Then at nine in the morning I start playing video games, and when I have to come off, I just watch TV.

Then, a little while later I ask and they say “yes”, and so I go back on the video games. And then when I have to come off I normally watch a movie off Netflix, off my tablet.

And then straight after that I play video games. And that’s what I do. And sometimes I go to the park.

Screen time is a significant barrier for children being active, and can be addictive – but it doesn’t all have to be bad news. Setting screen time limits can help regulate children’s usage.

You can also encourage children to use their screens, apps and gadgets in a positive way, to help to get them moving.

This can include the use of pedometers or activity trackers, which can help to monitor and increase activity levels and track progress along the way.

2. Be a role model

Support and encouragement from family members is a really important factor in increasing children’s activity levels.

Our research showed that this isn’t just about being able to buy expensive equipment or driving children to after-school activities and sports clubs – it’s about setting a good example of how to live an active life.

This includes reinforcing the benefits of being active, and getting children into active habits from a young age.

Family walks can be a great weekend activity.

Getting outdoors and in nature can be a great way to get children to see the benefits of being fit and healthy. This can include visits to green spaces, parks, playgrounds, walks and cycle tracks as part of your everyday family life.

Don’t let bad weather stop you either – take a raincoat and wellies and show the kids come rain or shine the outdoors is always an option.

3. Make the time

Modern-day family life can be pretty hectic, and it can often feel like a challenge to find the time and energy to be active. Our research revealed that many families could do with a bit of help and support to find ways to build activity into their lives. One child we spoke to told us how:

I want to be more active because me and my mum used to go for three-mile runs, but for some reason she keeps forgetting, and I keep trying to remind her but she’s always busy.

A few small changes to daily routines and a bit of forward planning can make all the difference.

Things like stopping off at the park on the way home from school for 15 minutes – or children walking or cycling whenever possible. Families can also find ways to be active indoors, including dancing and active video games. These might sound like small changes, but taken together they can have a big impact on children’s health and well-being.

Helen Ingle, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion, Leeds Beckett University and Susan Coan, Research assiastant Health Promotion, Leeds Beckett University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.