Sara Hall

For Sophomore Sara Hall, the presence of her iPod is an indication of good grades on her part.

Let’s face it ... people, especially kids, work a heck of a lot harder when they get something in return.

Be honest: Would you, knowing that you are not going to get paid, get up at 5 every morning to go to work just because it makes you feel good? I would hope not. And teenagers are people, too, (although that assumption has been debated), so when it comes to school work, teenagers may need a little extra motivation in the form of incentives.

Without a doubt, cash came in as the number one motivator. Does a little extra cash go a long way?

“Yes,” replied East Fairmont High School junior Caitlin Libby, who receives $100 from her dad if she gets straight A’s, which is no easy feat. “I think incentives are a good idea,” she continued. “People try harder if they get something in return.”

Money talks for EFHS junior Nicole Everson as well.

“My mom gives me money if I do well on my report card,” she said. “School can be very challenging, and it’s nice to get a reward for my efforts.”

EFHS senior Jeremy Irvin also responds well to monetary incentives from his parents.

“If I make straight A’s, each one is worth $5. If I don’t get a 4.0, each A equals one dollar.”

Mariah Ellington, an EFHS junior whose grade point average never veers far from 4.0, responded to the question of cash incentives. “I just don’t get yelled at,” she laughed.

Parents aren’t the only incentive givers; many insurance agencies offer good student rate reductions.

“My car insurance is lower because I make good grades,” commented junior Nikki Keefover.

If some households use positive reinforcement for academic performance, then there’s also a flipside — the dreaded takeaway of desired possessions or privileges. For sophomore Sara Hall, maintaining good grades means that she keeps her iPod, a definite factor in achieving academic excellence.

“I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to be bribed,” Hall added. “But ultimately if a person’s success is based on a reward, that could have a negative effect for life after high school.”

Like Hall, senior LeNae Miller says she isn’t offered incentives but still makes good grades. “You should want to do well on your own, so you don’t depend on them in the future.”

While “incentive” sounds more politically correct than “bribe,” most students put forth a little more effort if there’s a tangible reward waiting at the end of the long, dark academic tunnel. And while a report card taped to the refrigerator worked in grade school, it seems that money does the talking for teens.

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