Work-Study Scholarships
Proposed Combining of Problems for a Solution

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

Each student who successfully completes a meaningful college education represents a considerable appreciation of long-term value, and a good investment for society.

Here are the problems—

  1. There are still a lot of good educational resources and spaces in American colleges which are going unused or underused. These assets are wasting, for lack of effective students. Physics classrooms, for example, are sitting almost empty.

  2. There are still many reasonably competent students deserving of a chance, who can't afford college, despite all the special programs around.

  3. By far the greatest wastage, seen at almost every university, is the huge number of poorly prepared and/or poorly motivated enrolled students who come in only to flounder and fail.

What an incongruous waste! — Wasting, underutilizing fine educational resources. Hundreds of thousands of youngsters priced out of access to those resources. Hundreds of thousands of failing students wasting their opportunity with those educational resources. This is a very uneconomical way for our society to make its investment in creating meaningfully educated graduate professionals, workforce and leaders.

Hey, anyone here see a way to re-arrange these three elements together differently, toward a better outcome?


Proposed Solution:

Hands, photograph by Elan Sun Star

Establish a foundation and/or agency, to create and administer as many partial work-study scholarships as possible, to the most appropriately qualified among those priced-out would-be students.

Instead of pizza parlors and dustbins, the work of these students would be to function as "study-buddies" with faltering or vulnerable students, in either or both of two programs:

  1. Actively tutoring faltering students in their studies. With our modern Socratic methods, this is so easy, one need not even know the contents of the subject he is "tutoring" in, simply keep on asking appropriate questions and listen well.

  2. Counseling and monitoring potentially faltering students and underachievers for whom motivation may be an issue. This is likely to be a much more involved program than the academics and is where most of the training and supervision will be involved.
The programs are best implemented with incoming freshmen, for whom almost everything appears equally bizarre and equally normal, and who will be most accepting of these arrangements. Year by year, at any particular institution, the arrangements can be extended until they cover the entire undergraduate 4 years and possibly select portions of the graduate studies as well.

The programs can be general, and/or they can be targeted at specific underutilized areas of the university program.

The programs can be run with or without the participation of the university concerned, but of course will be much easier to conduct to its highest levels if the university is an active participant and supporter. The program can be by the university itself, or from outside as a foundation, agency, or specialized educational organization.

No university, hidebound or otherwise, would need to change its classroom methods. It would gain more and better students and more and better graduates and alumni, simply by allowing this program to work on its campus.

Each Study-Buddy-Grant student (we'll have to find a major donor to name this thing after!) would be expected to work with a limited number — say, four — of their classmates and faltering students. As their proficiencies and experience grow, they might take up additional tutoring duties on the side to earn extra income.

What makes this set of programs feasible is the ease of tutoring through Socratic Method and the power of that truly educational process upon both the person tutoring and the person being tutored by that method. The persons being tutored have to examine their subtler and deeper awarenesses concerning the topic under study. To make things work, the tutors have to pay close attention to their own first-hand perceptions as to what is going on with the person they are tutoring. It is a dynamite use of psychology's law of effect that each side has to give attention to their own first-hand awarenesses.

And, in seeking to make their responses from what they find there, they reinforce not only the particular awareness but the general behavior of being aware. This is a good part of why, throughout history, this most validated of all teaching methods has always been associated with, indeed led to, highest levels of intellectual performance. Both sides of a Socratic process win. "Education" itself is literally named after a central aspect of Socratic Method.

If the Project Renaissance versions of Socratic Method are used, each tutor and each facilitator will be coached toward the art and the science of making the minimum intervention that gets the job done. As part of this, tutors will be actively encouraged to "tutor" in course subjects which they don't know themselves. This forces the process to build upon the actual awarenesses of the person being so "tutored," a much "higher-fidelity" process than what usually happens in conventional tutoring and teaching, where one person attempts to impose a body of information on another. Once you really understand what this paragraph has just said, you will also understand much, much else! Look at this paragraph again, maybe Freenote on it.


Who wins?
  1. The college or university, which thereby sees its resources much better utilized and by more tuition-bearing students. That college or university will have many more successful graduates, and thereby receive much more alumni support. Academic standards can much better be sustained or even improved, without the pressures now exerted by large numbers of failing students.

  2. The students who have been tutored, monitored and counseled, who would have failed or barely scraped through still dysfunctional. With genuine academic and personal success under their belts, these individuals will mature into meaningfully educated graduates instead.

  3. The students who serve in this proposed partial work-scholarship program. Not only will it have opened for them the doors to a college education, it will develop their skills in working with people, and as possible future professionals and educators.

  4. Parents, so many of whom now see their dreams fade and their savings squandered in futility. Their investment and sacrifice would instead see many of their high hopes achieved.

  5. Society in general, as more and more effectively educated graduates emerge to become part of the resources of our culture and world civilization.

Steps toward development and implementation of such a solution:

  1. Reader comment and feedback to improve, correct, extend the proposal.

  2. Rework the proposal into a formal project.

  3. Find people to help develop the project and attract support, possibly creating a new foundation for the purpose, or finding existing foundations and agencies which can take on the role, on a small scale or on a large scale, at one or more or many teaching institutions.
Please help us with the first step now, and reply to the author.

P.S. — If this proposal makes any sense to you, please show it to at least one other person. Thank you.


Comments to
Win Wenger

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