The pressure on students to get good marks

BY L. CLARKE

Living in a success-driven society such as the one we are living in today can be difficult, and puts pressure on students. Students are expected to achieve a high level of success and, in some cases, are unfairly reprimanded for receiving a mark that doesn’t meet above average. The opinions and stress from teachers, parents, and even peers, can, and most likely will, cause students to go to extreme measures in an attempt to satisfy the performance demands imposed upon them.

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Most of the pressure that students receive comes from the people who begin the creation of their morals and values: parents. Of course parents expect the best from their children and have high beliefs that they can do anything and everything. Parents expect and aspire that their children will excel at school, believing that the encouragement and praise of high marks will motivate them to work hard, when in fact it can add more stress than they already have. Becoming a doctor or an engineer is not simply a matter of working longer hours or trying harder, and when parents only value certain professions and a single post-academic path (university) they are paving the way to misery and failure.

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The impulse that students have concerning school often leads to drastic measures, including academic dishonesty. In this case, cheating on an exam, test or quiz or plagiarizing an essay, has nothing to do with a person’s level of integrity but their level of stress. Anonymous surveys of students show that most self-report after cheating on a test, which proves remarkable ethics.

Denise Clark Pope, a lecturer in the School of Education, stated that the number one reason for a visit to a health center is no longer the complication of relationships but the stress and anxiety of students. Students feel as though their success in life is measured based on how well they do in school and the grades that they receive. Parents start RESPs before their children are even born, with the expectation that they will pursue a higher education after high school. Students learn early on that cheating and plagiarism is not acceptable yet they are also expected to do whatever it takes to hand in that one math assignment on time, or to provide an incredibly creative thesis all on their own, all while juggling and completing homework from the other courses that they’re taking. While it’s good to challenge themselves, parents and students need to understand that good marks do not determine the ultimate of their lives, and that pushing beyond a person’s capabilities will have severe consequences.

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