Friday, September 20, 2013


Opportunism – “the taking of opportunities as and when they arise,
regardless of planning or principle.”

In college, opportunistic opportunities arise regularly. For a college student, it is quite simple to take advantage of opportunistic opportunities in regards to taking advantage of a parent’s financials. While I believe that if you are going to take advantage of something in an unethical manner, it shouldn’t be with your parents money, however not every student would agree.

I have a friend who did this exact thing. For our apartment we each had to put down a quite large security deposit. The security deposit was an equivalent to our first month’s rent, and with Champaign’s rates, I’m sure everyone can imagine the high number that it is. We all received our security deposit about a week ago with checks made out to our names. Even though I know that each of us had our parents finance our apartments, one friend of mine thought it would be okay to cash that check and keep it for ourselves. I, on the other hand, wouldn’t be able to do that to my parents. I know that my parents most likely forgot about the security deposit that they were expecting to get back, but I knew that stealing their money wouldn’t be the ethical thing to do. After all they have done for me, there was no way I would have felt comfortable not returning them their money.

This situation made me think of how there are so many opportunistic opportunities that stand on a fine line of who would take advantage of them and who wouldn’t. Most of these opportunities have low risks of getting caught, but if you do, there are big consequences. The consequences usually, I believe, are reputational related.


  1. I think being that we're all college students, who haven't gone through life enough to completely mature, examples of opportunism are ubiquitous with us. Not only that but it speaks to characters of human beings in general. Some people take advantage of opportunistic situations and some don't, but I agree that one consequence is damage to your reputation. I'm surprised the person cashed in the deposit check instead, I could never imagine doing that to my parents or being dishonest that way.

  2. I'd be interested to know whether your friend was consciously acting opportunistically, or if she genuinely thought it was okay to take money from her parents. If she genuinely saw nothing wrong with taking the security deposit, I might attribute her behavior more to a difference in moral values than opportunistic intentions. If she knew that what she was doing was wrong, though, I completely agree that this is opportunistic behavior. On your point about reputation, it might even be worse for her reputation if she wasn't acting opportunistically - it would show a deep divide between moral values, and that kind of reputation isn't easy to recover from.

  3. First I'd like to understand the setup a little better. You are talking about the apartment you had last year for which you get a security deposit back at the time you were moving out? Is that right? I've not been in the apartment renting market for quite a while. But when I was the security deposit was applied to the last month's rent. So I found what you described a little surprising.

    I am currently int he business of the parents giving income to the college kids. Truthfully, my wife does more of the monitoring than I do. I believe she can see both checking account info and credit card statements. There may still be some range of opportunism possible for my kids, by making cash purchases for who knows what. But on the income side that would be harder. Perhaps it is more difficult to do this sort of monitoring if the parents are not also in CU.