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The Big Q

A dialogue on the big questions college students face. Like The Big Q now on Facebook to stay updated on the latest post and winners.

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  •  Outside the Fold

    Monday, Sep. 16, 2013

    The best student comment on "Outside the Fold" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 29th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Alexa comes from a close-knit Chinese family. Her parents came to the United States from Beijing in 1981 so that her father could attend college. Alexa was born in California, and her parents chose to remain in the U.S. Although they are comfortable in their adopted homeland, they remain very traditional about certain things. In particular, they expect Alexa to marry a Chinese boy.
     
    Alexa, however, doesn’t see things the same way. When she went away to college, she was open to dating people from every ethnicity. She started seeing Brian, an Irish Catholic guy, two months into their freshman year. Now a junior, Alexa is expecting a visit from her parents, and Brian would like to meet them. 
     
    Should Alexa introduce Brian to her family? Is it racist for Alexa’s parents to oppose interracial relationships?  
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
  •  Whose Life is it Anyway?

    Monday, Jul. 22, 2013

    The best student comment on "Whose Life is it Anyway?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, August 4th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Robert is a sophomore in college majoring in accounting. He has never truly been interested in accounting, however. In fact, Robert is very passionate about filmmaking. Since his early years, he has known that he wants to become a director. He is only majoring in accounting at his parent’s wishes.
     
    Robert’s parents are paying for his college, and as a result, he finds himself in a very difficult situation. Since his parents are paying for him to be at college, he understands why they should have some say in his major. At the same time, however, Robert believes that majoring in accounting is a huge waste of time for him, because in the future he knows he doesn’t want anything to do with accounting. 
     
    Since Robert is not interested in accounting, his grades have recently suffered. While his parents stress the importance of getting a high GPA, he has been stuck in the 3.2 range throughout college.
     
    Robert has just gotten his grades back for the spring quarter and he got a 3.1. His parents are upset that he was unable to get better grades. They insist that he can do better and that there is no reason why he isn’t doing so.
     
    Robert finally strikes up the courage to tell his parents that he never wants to become an accountant. He tells them that he wants to become a filmmaker. Robert’s parents tell him this is an impractical dream of his. It should be a hobby not a career path. They insist that he stays in accounting and tell him that if he doesn’t start getting better grades his future is in trouble.
     
    Many parents want to be involved in their child’s college education, especially when they are paying the bills. When is this desire to be involved reasonable guidance and when does it become intrusion? If students are 18 and adults, shouldn’t they be given freedom to be responsible for their own actions? Does Robert’s father have a right to feel upset about his low son’s low GPA? Should he be allowed to decide Robert’s major? What should Robert do?

    Useful Resources: 
     

    Choosing a Major in College: Do Parents Get a Say?

  •  Home Sweet Home

    Friday, Jun. 21, 2013

    The best student comment on "Home Sweet Home" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 7th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    After a long, tough finals week, Sophia has completed her freshman year of college. She can’t believe how fast the year went. She made many new friends and experienced the freedom of independence, living away from her parents for the first time in her life. Now, it’s summer break, and Sophia is returning home to work for a local restaurant. All she wants to do during break is work, go to the gym, and hang out with her old high school friends.

    Sophia’s parents are very strict and like to know where she is at all times. They also enjoy having her at home to spend time with the family, and stress the importance of academics and getting good grades. In high school, Sophia often had to stay home at nights when her friends were getting together. When Sophia was allowed out, she had to return home before her parents went to bed at midnight.

    Sophia has gotten used to the freedom of college, however. She’s 19 now, after all. She enjoys being spontaneous, making her own choices, not having to report her coordinates to her parents at all times, and staying out late. That being said, she has still been able to maintain over a 3.7 cumulative GPA in her first year at college.

    Several days after returning home for break, Sophia’s best friend from high school decides to host a reunion party. Sophia works from 10am to 4pm at the restaurant, heads to the gym, and makes it home in time for dinner at 6pm.

    At the dinner table, Sophia tells her parents she is going to the reunion party in a couple of hours. While Sophia loves to be spontaneous, her parents love to schedule out their plans well ahead of time. They inform Sophia that they’ve planned a family night and that she needs to be home to spend time with her two younger siblings.

    Conversation turns into argument. Sophia claims she is independent now and can make her own decisions. Her parents state that while she is still living under their roof, she needs to listen to their judgment. They stress they are not being the “fun police,” but are emphasizing family values. If Sophia would have told them ahead of time, they claim they would have let her go. 

    Sophia pretends to go to bed upset and sneaks out to go to the party.

    Should Sophia have snuck out to go to the party? Have you ever snuck out from home? Is Sophia independent? Should she be able to make her own decisions at home? Is it fair for Sophia’s parents to ask her to plan ahead of time, or should she be allowed to continue her spontaneous nature? Is there a point of compromise?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Social Intelligence: Returning Home from College for the Summer

     

  •  Let Me See Your Grades

    Monday, Sep. 19, 2011

    Juliana was a good student in high school. She wasn't valedictorian, but she got mostly As and Bs. Her parents thought they had to sit on her to get her assignments done, but she thought they worried too much. After all, she did get into the college of her choice and was starting her freshman year at school.

    Juliana was looking forward to the independence of the college environment. There was only one hitch: her parents were insisting that she allow them to see her grades. Because she was 18, by law, she was an adult. But by her parents' law, she was either going to make her records accessible or they weren't going to pay for school.

    Was it right for them to invade her privacy like this?

    Here are some useful resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

    Photo by quinn.anya available under Creative Commons License.

  •  The Slowdown Hits Home

    Monday, Jun. 20, 2011

    $50 Amazon gift certificate to the best student response on this case received by midnight, June 5.

    Kayla is going to be a freshman at a prestigious university, which was her first choice for college.  Unfortunately, it’s also one of the more expensive institutions of higher learning in the country.


    When Kayla was making her applications, her family was in good shape financially, but just before she was accepted, she learned her father had been laid off from his job as a software engineer.  In order to send Kayla to her first-choice school, her parents intend to dip into their retirement accounts. 

    Should Kayla allow them to do this, or should she go to the less expensive state university, where she was also accepted?

     

    Here are some resources that might be useful:

     

    Balancing kids' college and retirement saving

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

    Pay for College (CollegeBoard) 

     

    Photo by Daniel Moyle available under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

     

    Posted by Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro

  •  Get Me Out of This!

    Tuesday, May. 31, 2011

    $50 Amazon gift certificate to the best student response on this case received by midnight, June 5.

    Since he was a little boy, Sam has always been able to count on his father. When Sam was in grade school, his dad went to bat for him if a teacher didn't treat him fairly. In high school, Sam appreciated when his father made sure he got plenty of playing time on the basketball team, and he learned more from his father than from the English teacher when his dad helped him with assignments.

    Now, at the end of his freshman year of college, Sam has a real problem. His psychology professor has found a couple of lines in the final paper he just turned in that were copied directly from an article in a professional journal. Sam does not dispute that the lines were from the journal, which he included in his bibliography, but he explains to the teacher that he simply forgot to put quotations around them and cite them in this one instance. The teacher is not impressed by his explanation, and has given him a failing grade on this very important assignment.

    Sam calls his dad to complain about the situation, and his father is indignant that the professor is being so "rigid." He offers to call the department chair and protest Sam's grade. Should Sam involve his father in this matter?

    Here are some resources that may be helpful:

    Here are some resources that may help:

    Helicopter Parents (The Tufts Daily)

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making