Setting healthy academic expectations


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Students struggle with the pressure of getting acceptable grades resulting in high levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Gayatri Dhavala, Business Manager

As a student looks at the failing grade on the math test just handed to them, their classmate flaunts their A to the rest of the class. In a competitive society filled with talented individuals, finding satisfaction with one’s achievements can be hard, especially when it comes to academics. Many students struggle with recognizing their successes as they don’t feel intelligent or accomplished enough in comparison with their peers, who may have better grades.

Feelings about one’s scholastic worth have led to mental health problems such as inferiority complexes, stress, anxiety and depression. According to a study done by the University of New York, 49% of students reported feelings of extreme stress which affected their ability to do well in school.

 It is crucial to remember that educational expectations should be based on an individual’s personal capabilities and realistic goals. Identifying an unhealthy mindset towards academics is important in order to grow mentally and can be an achievable goal for many. 

“I struggle with finding academic success, mostly because I find myself setting goals that are in sync with my friends who have different situations than me,” sophomore Aylee Moore said.  “Having a lot of school stress due to grades definitely reduces my energy in my social life and even at home because I feel like I’m not smart enough sometimes.”

The Psychology Today magazine states that a leading cause of academic failure is letting one’s peers, friends or family determine their views on academic achievement. 

“I usually compare my grades with my friends in general conversation,” freshman Davey Rivera said. “It can sometimes make me feel low or dumb because I didn’t get a high enough score on a test like them.”

Although academic comparisons with peers can be a natural part of a student’s behavior, one can maintain a healthy mindset by setting personalized standards and accepting them in their mind. A study according to Psychology Today suggested that students can set a specific grade expectation in regards to their preparation. After getting a result, they can accept it with humility, which boosts an individual’s confidence and pushes them to stay motivated. 

“When I get my grades, I usually try not to brag about it if it’s good, because it may make others around me feel bad or just darkens the vibe at times,” Moore said. “I usually try to get inspiration from those who do better than me and try to keep an optimistic mindset even if it’s very hard at times.”

A method to avoid competitive distractions is to stay optimistic based on personal strengths that make us unique. PsychCentral says that implementing acceptance strategies can go a long way in building self-esteem and confidence within one’s accomplishments. Although difficult, prioritizing mental health and the development of the mind is important in order to get good academic results. Avoiding toxic mindsets regarding school can potentially help individuals explore more opportunities socially and emotionally.