29 Mar Good Answer, Good Answer
“We’ve got a good one for ya today!” bellows Steve Harvey nearly every weekday evening as we’re preparing dinner and decompressing from the day. Jerry and I always compete to try to outwit each other. He’s pretty good. We laugh at the answers—good and bad, theirs and ours. We laugh at Steve Harvey—he’s so much funnier than Richard Dawson used to be; he just kissed every female contestant, and that was just gross, even back then. And, we laugh at that fifth family member. You know the one; they never have good answers, but they cheer wildly for their family. No doubt, that’s part of the fun; it’s the recipe for game show gold. And, we always judge whether we think they picked the best two family members to play Fast Money. We wonder if they predetermine that decision or if they wait to see who plays the best? We don’t know for sure, but what we do know is that Steve always hits them on the shoulder with his cue card if they’ve nailed it—always. Just watch. He does it every single time. And there’s something about winning $20,000 in Fast Money that makes full grown adults jump up and down like the sparkly game show floor is a trampoline. It’s the proper response. Any time you win Fast Money, a celebration should ensue. Ironically, it’s also the proper response if you win Slow Money.
The Community Foundation winds down our Scholarship Season this month. It’s our own version of March Madness. This is how I know, in the world of scholarships, there’s no such thing as Fast Money. In fact, our Grant County students have literally been working their entire lives to win scholarship dollars that will catapult them to the next stage of their lives…college. These students have completed projects, taken exams, read boring textbooks, and studied on Friday nights. In some cases, they’ve sent their kids to college first, worked full time, and earned their degree three slow credit hours at a time. When you consider all the years and hard work that turns a student into a scholarship applicant, it’s clearly Slow Money.
And, trust me when I say that it’s just as competitive as it is slow. Literally, hundreds and hundreds of students start our scholarship application—not all of them finish. If they don’t do the work, they don’t qualify. Several of the scholarships require essays to be written—not all of them put their best effort forth. If they don’t do the work, they don’t win. Some of the scholarships require a few extra questions to be answered—not all of them choose to go that extra mile. If they don’t do the work, they can’t win. I can tell you firsthand that it’s not enjoyable to see students drop out of contention because they didn’t do the work. But, as hard as that is, it feels incredible to reward the outstanding students who put in so much effort that they truly stand out, simply by doing the work well and doing it on time—especially lately.
I’m sure you’ve recently read about the biggest college admission scandal in American history. Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, and approximately 50 other wealthy parents, exchanged some of their Fast Money to buy their children seats in the classrooms of some of the most prestigious American colleges in the nation. These seats were not earned. In many cases, these seats were not appreciated. In all cases, these seats belonged to other honest, hard-working, college hopefuls. Students who played by the rules. Students who studied for the SAT. Students who read the chapters, solved the theorems, and skipped the parties—just to make the grade. Students whose parents didn’t have Fast Money—or at least had enough integrity not to use it unfairly.
This scam disgusts me. After all, this isn’t a game show. It’s not monopoly money. And, admittedly, I’m still pretty ticked off at Aunt Becky. ‘Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman? The paperboy? Evening TV?’ Apparently, they’ve been replaced with ‘snowplow parents’ who make it their day job to plow a wide path free of obstacles, just so their offspring won’t fail.
Well, guess what? Everybody fails. In fact, I’d argue that failure is a part of life. If you don’t fail, you’ll never learn. And, if you don’t learn, you’ll never change. Anyone who has failed gets this. These are the same people realize that ‘failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.’
And, it’s news stories like this that make me feel incredibly proud of the scholarship standards we have in place at the Community Foundation. We reward hard-working students with stellar resumes. It just so happens that those are the same students who finish the application on time, write compelling essays, and do the added work that our donors require. It’s a scholarly separation of the wheat from the chaff. A separation that we believe will equate to an investment into the students who have shown that they are the most likely to succeed.
So, yes, today we will send out hundreds and hundreds of scholarship letters to student applicants. Some of these letters will bring bad news, a few tears, and a bit of problem-solving. These students will need to fall back on state and federal financial aid, scholarship offers from their college of choice, savings, part-time jobs, some parental investments, and/or student loans. It doesn’t mean college isn’t an option. It does mean that they’ll need to add this information to their other financial information in order to make the best data-driven choice about which college to attend. We wish them well and hope these students will continue to apply for scholarships with the Community Foundation every year that they attend college…there may be scholarship offers in their future.
Other letters will bring good news, a few tears, and a bit of problem-solving. We know that the Foundation will only be a small piece of financing a college education. So, the data-driven decisions that applied above, apply here as well. The main difference is that this Slow Money makes full grown adults jump up and down like their plush carpeted living room floor is a trampoline.
In both cases, these Grant County students decided to pursue a college degree. They have opted to improve their quality of life by increasing their educational attainment level. After the walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma, they said ‘yes’ to working toward a college diploma. And this, friends, is when that fifth person on the Family Feud team becomes vitally important. Because, when the college decision has finally been made, everyone needs an encouraging cheerleader in their life to yell ‘Good answer, good answer’; no matter which letter they get in the mail on Monday.