Motivation and Underachievement
And that one Talent which is death to hide, Log'd with me useless …
Milton bemoaning his blindness is a tragic thought. Impelled by a stern sense of mission, Milton struggled on. The poems which are called the "work of his maturity" followed his blindness by a decade and more. How may one explain, by way of contrast, the phenomenon of thousands of youth of high ability, with no visible handicaps, who never fulfill their promise?
Numerous compilations have been made which attest to the failure of able young persons to exploit their talents. Warner, Havighurst, and Loeb ( 1944) estimated that the number of students with requisite ability who do not attend college equals the number of students with lower ability who do enroll in the ivied halls.* Their judgment is that half of the students who do not enter college exceed in ability half of the students who do attend. Wolfle, making a survey for the learned societies, found the following percentage of college graduates among the indicated levels of ability:____________________