Sunk Costs Made You Do It

Sunk Costs Made You Do It

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Have you sat through an entire movie even though you knew you disliked it within the first thirty minutes? Have you ever gotten in a checkout line at a grocery store, noticed that another line is moving faster, and stayed in your original line? Have you ever ordered way too much food, and then forced yourself to eat every slice/dumpling/bite just because you had already paid for it?

If so, you’re falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy.

First, it’s important to define what we mean by “sunk cost.” A sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. In this case, a cost may not just refer to monetary value but also the emotional investment an individual has made on a decision.

The sunk cost fallacy is the phenomenon of making a decision based off of these sunk costs. The issue is that you don’t need to take these costs into account when making a choice as these costs have already been incurred. Instead, you should be making a decision in the interest of your future happiness or well being (and not considering the investment you have already made via sunk costs).

Imagine you have purchased a ticket to a concert. On the day of the concert, however, a friend tells you that the artist doesn’t perform well live, and you decide that you don’t really want to go to the concert at all. Now you have two choices:

  • Going to see a concert that you’re not going to enjoy; or
  • Skipping the concert to do something more enjoyable with your time.

Either way, you already bought the ticket to the concert and you can’t change that. The rational choice is the second option – you should do something that you know you’re going to enjoy (despite the fact that you already bought the ticket). However, most people would likely choose the first option – going to the concert because it seems like the right thing to do since you’ve already made the investment on the ticket. That’s the sunk cost fallacy.

Almost everyone suffers from the sunk cost fallacy, the question is can you avoid it now that you know that it exists?

 

A Curious Case of the Classics

A Curious Case of the Classics

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In undergrad, I had a roving academic mind and I couldn’t settle on a major. I didn’t want to study English and miss out on learning new and exciting stories from history, nor did I want to settle on History and miss out on the beautiful poetry and rhetoric that comes with an English degree. When I finally stumbled into my alma mater’s Classics department, it turned out to be a match made in heaven.

My first class in the department was called Poets, Lovers, and Monsters, and we explored Greek and Roman poetry and mythology. I was hooked. Classics was able to capture my heart because it is about a time period as opposed to a subject. All within my major, I was able to study philosophy, political science, art, architecture, poetry … the list goes on and on! Still, the core of my degree was learning and exploring Ancient Greek and Latin.

One of my favorite things about knowing those classical languages is how they help me to understand English. I look at a word and I can often find Greek or Latin roots within it that can help me to understand what that word really means. For example, one of my favorite words is theoxeny, which is made up of two very simple Greek words. First being “theo” which means God, as in theology, and “xenia” which means stranger or guest, as in xenophobia. So if you understand those two words, you can then understand that theoxeny means god as a stranger. We see this a lot in old fairytales where a prince is cruel to a beggar woman who turns out to be a beautiful fairy in disguise. A modern example of this would be the opening of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, when the young prince insults the old woman, who then transforms him into a beast.

The Greeks themselves were very scared of theoxeny. They were terrified of accidentally offending one of their twelve Olympian gods so they had this practice called xenia, where if a stranger or someone in need knocked on their door they would treat them with the utmost respect. They would invite the stranger in, feed them a meal, and get them anything they need. Then, after catering to all of the strangers’ needs, they could ask the stranger their name or who they were. This practice is a beautiful thing and it teaches us a lot about the Greeks – as well as the importance of treating people with respect.

Now I am a graduate student at New York University studying cultural psychology and art in a degree I built myself. Both of these fields are areas I would never have been exposed to in other majors. Each time I go to write a paper or analysis a text, I am thankful for my education in the Classics!

About the author:

Katie Mears is currently pursuing her Master’s degree at New York University, and specializes in teaching writing, history and Latin.

Inside the Literary Devices in Pop Music

Inside the Literary Devices in Pop Music

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You might’ve learned about literary devices in school, but did you know that these aren’t just for poets and professors? Many popstars also use these techniques to give your favorite anthems some extra punch.

Below are some literary devices that are used in pop music. Please feel free to sing along as you read.

Assonance

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in close proximity (and is frequently used in pop music). You may have never noticed, but Rihanna and Eminem use assonance to create lyrical gold in two of their hit songs. Perhaps their penchant for literary devices aided their collaborations, “Love the Way You Lie” and “The Monster.”

  • The “eye” sound in “Diamonds” by Rihanna:

    Shine bright like a diamond.”

  • The “oh” sound in “Lose Yourself” by Eminem:

    Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked

    He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that easy? No.

Consonance

Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the middle or end of a word. While consonance is generally used less frequently than assonance, divas (and boy bands) still utilize consonance to create catchy lyrics.

  • The “n” and “shun” sounds in “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé:

    “I need no permission, did I mention

    Don’t pay him any attention.”

  • The “Ur” sound in “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction:

    You’re insecure,

    Don’t know what for,

    You’re turning heads when you walk through the door.”

Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of closely adjacent words. Alliteration is used in many popular songs, and we hope you don’t have any bad blood with your favorite artists because they use it.

  • The B’s in “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift:

    Baby now we got, bad blood.”

  • The W’s in “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay:

    “Never an honest word

    But that was when I ruled the world.”

Who knew that Eminem was a modern day Shakespeare? Listen to pop radio for a few minutes and you’ll start to hear how often artists use these techniques to add some extra snap, crackle and pop to a verse.

As a test, check out the following three songs and let us know which literary devices the artists use at contests@smartalec.com. (Note: there may be more than one right answer for some of these songs!)

  • “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus
  • “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift
  • “Let It Be” by The Beatles

Our tutors help students master grammar, literary devices and English.

Source: All song lyrics from Google Play Music

Common Traps to Avoid When Choosing a Tutor

Common Traps to Avoid When Choosing a Tutor

Help! This homework is really difficult!

These days, students are under more pressure than ever, so it’s not surprising that most parents will, at some point, wonder how to find a tutor for their child. However, most parents don’t realize that there are hidden drawbacks to the most common methods of finding a tutor. Luckily, these traps are easy to avoid, if you know to look for them.

Here are the three most common paths to finding great tutors, and the pitfalls parents encounter along the way.

Family or Friend Referrals:

Getting referred to a tutor by someone you know is probably the most predictable of the three methods, as chances are that your friends or family members won’t lie to you about the quality of the tutor (unless you’re asking a particularly vindictive frenemy). So if you can get your co-worker to cough up the name of the tutor who helped their Harvard-bound student, that’s a great place to start. The issue with these kinds of recommendations is that a tutor who was effective with a friend’s child may be the wrong fit for yours. Even two students with similar grades may be facing completely different sets of challenges. So don’t just get one recommendation and stop there! The big trap of getting personal referrals is being afraid to try out a few other tutors or feeling like you have to work with a tutor you’ve been recommended. Don’t get caught!

School Suggestions: 

Your school guidance counselor and/or college admissions department are good places to look for suggestions as well. They have a built-in incentive to get your child the best grades (in order to make themselves look good), and they probably know the local tutoring and education ecosystem extremely well. The downside to going through schools is that, as members of this “edu-system,” they sometimes have relationships with tutors and companies that can impact which resources they recommend. This can come in many forms: teachers who tutor the SAT or ACT, local organizations that have ties to PTA’s or guidance counselors, and entrenched test prep and tutoring companies (many of which offer free tests through the school). Although these connections may not necessarily lead to a bad tutor, it’s always important to take them with a grain of salt. So remember that while your guidance counselor’s tutoring recommendation may be in your best interest, it may also be in there’s.

Online Research:

A third way to find the right tutor for you is to simply do your own research on the world wide web. The downside here is obvious – you can’t trust anything you read online to be 100% true. The upside? You will have access to many more potential tutors, and have a lot more flexibility when it comes to teaching-style, price and lesson format. To find tutors in your area, you can start by turning to (the almighty) Google, and searching with your town or zip code. Depending on your area, you can also look on Yelp or Angie’s List for highly reviewed companies. There are also tutoring marketplaces like Smart Alec that will allow you to find vetted, local private tutors. When searching for tutors online, you’re going to want to pay extra attention to a tutor’s academic background (did they go to a great school?), their experience (how long have they been tutoring, is this what they do as their main source of income, how many hours a week?) and student and parent testimonials. Chances are if a tutor has an impressive background, seems like an expert, and can produce actual recommendations from students and parents (either quotes or, even better, references for you to call), they’re actually as good as they seem. When looking online, just be sure to be careful; if something doesn’t smell right, it pays to stay away!

All three of these methods are perfectly good ways to find great educators in your area. While getting a recommendation from a friend or family member is in some ways the most reliable, there are plenty of cases when asking your school or doing a little bit of online digging can yield academic gold. Regardless of how you find a tutor, you should always trust your instincts – because no matter who recommended a tutor, how much your guidance counselor loves them or how great their website looks, no one knows your child better than you do.

This blog post was originally published on The Huffington Post.

The Cheeseburger Method for Writing an Essay

The Cheeseburger Method for Writing an Essay

 

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When you’re starting off the school year, nothing is more daunting than having to write an essay for a new teacher. Sometimes it’s challenging figuring out how to even begin outlining your points in a coherent, effective manner. Luckily, we have an easy strategy to make structuring papers a little more palatable.

It’s called the Cheeseburger Method:

Top Bun: The Introduction

This is what the reader first sinks their teeth into when they start reading your essay. The top bun gives them a taste of what’s to come throughout the rest of the paper, so it’s important that it’s delicious to get the reader to devour the entire burger.

Ketchup: Body Paragraph #1

The ketchup (or mustard, depending on your tastes) establishes the flavor and style of the burger. This gives the reader the first taste of what your cheeseburger is made of (your argument) and makes them hungry for more.

Cheese: Body Paragraph #2

Whether you like swiss or cheddar, the cheese is essential to the overall cheeseburger experience. It holds the reader’s interest, reminds them why they wanted to eat the burger in the first place and melts right into the next ingredient.

Burger Patty: Body Paragraph #3

This is the real meat of your essay. The patty is meant to showcase the cheeseburger as a whole and satiate the reader’s hunger (for knowledge). Whether you like your burger medium rare or well done, it needs to be cooked to perfection so that the reader is satisfied and understands the point of your entire cheeseburger.

Bottom Bun: The Conclusion

The bottom bun supports and reinforces all of the other parts of the cheeseburger. It reminds the reader where the burger started (the top bun), but brings the reader somewhere different, leaving them with a fresh taste in their mouth.

The cheeseburger analogy allows you visualize the process of structuring an essay in an appetizing way. When planning your paper, it is important to carefully consider how each of the components functions individually as well as how the components contribute to the essay as a whole.

Now that you know the Cheeseburger Method, you can cook up your first essay and show your new English teacher how tasty your paper can be.