Posted by they4kman on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 8:13 a.m. (1 year, 11 months ago)
What are scholarships granted for? Who benefits from them? Are they worth it?
In pure essence, scholarships are granted because someone with money to spare believes a student can benefit from education. Because education costs money (this might be a separate discussion), the scholarship granter can offer money, so the student can worry less about the financial burdens and focus on their studying.
However, like they usually do, selfish people realized how to cash out on good will and understanding. After scholarships were conceived and put into practice, the public viewed them sympathetically, because the granter cared about the grantee. Marketers realized that the only physical action the granter did was give the grantee money. Extrapolating from that, marketers saw that as long as their money was given to a student, sympathy was retained. Sympathy sells a company, because it makes the company seem more human.
This argument relies on perception of money. Essentially, money is a way to give value an immutable form -- the more money is needed to buy something, the more value it has. Purely, when someone grants a scholarship, they're giving value to the education the grantee receives. With marketing, it doesn't matter the actual value of the education or even how the grantee values the education; because people believe money equals value, a scholarship thus equals value. This perception of value is directed toward the granter, the company.
If the scholarship granter really cared about the person receiving the scholarship rather than the publicity and the boost to the company, they wouldn't make the scholarship public. But this isn't entirely true. In order to determine the possibly best candidate, the scholarship needs to be shown to the public. However, once a candidate is chosen, there would be no need to tell the public about them, unless marketing overtakes. The only time the granter should be mentioned is when the grantee credits them.
These days, students apply for scholarships without really caring about the motives of the granter. They see free money. No W2s need to be filled out, nothing beyond an essay and letter of recommendation need to be provided. The letter of recommendation needs to be examined. This letter needs to be written by a professor. So what makes a professor? Is a professor always an intelligent person whose judgment can be trusted? They may usually have more rational opinions, but they are still humans. As such, they are just as prone to mistakes as the rest of us.
If they can make mistakes, how can one trust their opinion? How can the scholarship granter take their letter of recommendation seriously? There must be something else at play. At first glance, this "something else" is the student's essay. It's what's used to determine how worthy a student is. If the student only wishes to advance their own learning and education, the essay is a great way to find the best candidate for the scholarship. However, the student might only want the money. In that case, they'll write anything to appease the person giving the money.
Instead of writing what's truly in their mind, the student will pander to the scholarship granter's hopes and wishes (or established and published goals, if it's a company that markets itself), so they can get money. Once the student's tuition and costs (books, rent, and food) are paid, there is nothing else. A student's learning depends on those. Without those, learning cannot easily occur, because worries about paying those fees occupy the mind. Otherwise, everything else is a distraction the student consciously chooses to think about instead of their studies. Drugs, alcohol, girlfriends, eating out. On the surface, these things may seem like acceptable ways to contribute to the student's gumption. However, each can easily be purchased using the student's own money, which can be earned on the studen't own time.
This is not to say students can't think about anything but their studies. It's to say that if students care about learning a subject, they'll be interested in it, and thus they'll be more motivated to work on that subject than anything else. If they're interested in underwater basket weaving, they'll study it over a blowjob (or during one), eating mushrooms, or getting drunk. If they're not interested in it, their major may not fit them, may force useless standards upon them, or their classes and/or professors do not fit them (thus aren't being taught well enough to explain the concepts to them).
All of these issues are deeply seated in the old-fashioned issues of schooling. Think to yourself: what is schooling good for? What do employers seek when they want a college degree? Following those, what is accreditation and how does it play with what employers look for when they seek a candidate with a degree?
In pure essence, schooling was a way to learn concepts about anything. It was a way to understand things in practice. Eventually, grades were issued. They were originally supposed to show students how well they were understanding topics. Unfortunately, teachers are partial, because humans are prone to mistakes, so students were given grades depending on how much they agreed with the professor's opinions. Because the professor can be just as wrong as the student, grades were devalued.
Originally, the college cared about these grades because they demonstrated value, and thus when a degree was given, grades showed that the student understood all the topics taught to them. But because professors didn't always teach well or graded those depending on their personal agendas rather than on the student's understanding of the topics, grades meant less, and thus the degree presented by the college meant less.
Degrees were valued by employers because they were supposed to demonstrate understanding of concepts. Because employers needed their employees to understand certain concepts in order to perform their jobs, they accepted degrees as a certification of this understanding. With the possible lack of understanding behind a student's degree, who's to say what the value is behind a degree?
If a degree isn't worth the education it's supposed to embody and grades don't accurately represent the understanding of concepts of students, what do universities and colleges provide?
Back to scholarships. Scholarships are granted because someone with money believes someone else can learn something valuable if the granter provides the money. The people teaching need money to survive in this world, so money is needed to learn. If the teacher does not teach the concepts to the student, the money is wasted on them. If the money is wasted, so is the scholarship. If good grades are awarded, though, and so is a degree, what are the grades and degree worth?
They're not worth the original intention of having someone else advance their understanding, as the scholarship grantee originally intended.