Long Term Benefits Outweigh Short Term Rewards
by Mark Iraheta on Friday, October 25th, 2013
Temptation lurks in every corner and aspect of life, but Milton students, for the most part, seem to be able to manage their priorities quite well. Although what we believe to be the norm for students our age is constant diligence and focus, most teenagers are actually quite susceptive to straying from laborious tasks; judging from the number of people in the Stu during free periods, most students would rather participate in fun activities like hanging out with friends or watching TV. For many, a short term gain is more alluring than waiting for better rewards. Perhaps this anxiousness can be attributed to the fast pace life most teens live nowadays. Despite the fact that initially short term gains feel more advantageous, this attitude is actually working against individuals who practice it.
Milton students are thought to be very calculative and goal oriented. Of course, this mind set is not always apparent when students first arrive freshman year, but Milton faculty try to instill it in us from the first moment we sit at a Harkness table. Students are taught to schedule long-term and short-term assignments in their planners, meet with teachers for help, and be proactive learners and members of the community.
Despite our teachers’ efforts, it’s beginning to seem like we, as a Milton community, are becoming less goal-oriented and more interested in getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Many of us, myself included, put off work in hopes that a burst of inspiration will hit us two days before the assignment is due, rather than do work periodically with more tranquility. Instead of reaching out to a teacher to meet after class when a topic is unclear, some students would rather forget the incomprehensibility exists and wait for the teacher to move on to a different topic. If any of these scenarios seem familiar to you, and undoubtedly one does, then you can relate to not delaying your gratification. However, the root of this mindset is not necessarily laziness but lack of inspiration and motivation.
The Marshmallow Test, a famous study at Stanford University, was conducted in the late 1960’s to 1970’s. In this test, young children could either take immediate and present rewards, like marshmallows, cookies, and pretzels, or wait a longer duration of time and receive a higher quantity of the reward. The scientists concluded that the children who were able to wait for the long-term reward were more successful on the SATs, personal health, and other quantifiable aspects later in their lives.
Having this special opportunity to attend an elite prep school is often forgotten in the midst of our stress and worry. Rather than appreciating that we have plentiful resources, such as teachers on call waiting to help or peers with plenty of wisdom on all parts of Milton life, we procrastinate at the sight of a long-term task. Unfortunately, we forget that the best achievements do not happen overnight; they happen over a period of time, when we put time, work, and dedication into a project. As the Marshmallow Test shows, discipline and self-control can reward you, both in the present and in the future. Take advantage of the teacher who is there to help or that extra night you have for your history paper, because self-discipline can play a pivotal role in the difference between one’s successes and failure, both at Milton and beyond.
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