By MICHELLE HUANG
Lectures, notes, homework, quizzes, tests… repeat! The seemingly never-ending cycle of a student’s workload is a difficult task to manage.
As if it is not already enough, students also have to deal with pressures that their peers and teachers put on them. Such pressures often create tension and competition among students who are scrambling to be at the top of their class.
The rigorous nature of the academic environment causes many students to make excuses and utilize other avoidance tactics to relieve stress. Interestingly, students usually resort to such eluding actions with a common struggle in mind: their peers and teachers are pressuring them to become robotically competitive.
However, regardless of the school, the competitiveness of the individual is largely determined by internal motivation, energy and prioritization, rather than by external factors concerning peers or teachers.
Undoubtedly, an individual’s motivation is important when it comes to competition. A competitive atmosphere may not affect one’s own study habits. In fact, there are a number of students who attend highly competitive schools but remain uncompetitive in their attitudes toward studying. Most of these students are uncompetitive, because they do not have the right mindset on studying.
For example, although a student may be attending a school filled with competitive peers, he may never reach that same level of competitiveness, simply because he is not able to find a more effective way of studying, and therefore has a much different, less efficient mindset than his peers.
Although motivation is indeed a major factor in achieving competitiveness, a student’s physical energy to take on a task at hand must also be considered.
For instance, a student may have the right attitude and understand the importance of maintaining competitiveness; however, he may not be able to achieve his desired goal because of the physical work that he would need to put in. Thinking of a topic to write would not suffice; instead, the student would also need to have the energy to sit in front of a computer and type their essay for a few hours. This would require more activity than simply having the the motivation to do the assignment. Having an idea of what one wants to accomplish contrasts greatly with the willingness a student has to achieve his goal.
To illustrate, if a student has a ten page essay to finish in two days, he may understand that completing the essay will be a lot of work. He may also understand that finishing the essay on time is important for his grades and his work habits. However, whether or not the student will actually put in the effort to brainstorm ideas and write out the essay is a different story.
Finally, even with personal motivation and the dedication to complete a task, a student may still not reach a desired level of competitiveness because he may not be setting his priorities straight. Without having the right priorities in mind, one may not ever even get the chance to be considered competition by his peers.
For instance, if a student has “play games” set as their top priority, and “study for test” set as one of the last important things on their list, they may never get to the crucial activity: studying. Therefore, even with the right mindset, if a student fails to prioritize correctly, he will not achieve competitiveness; having the right priorities is an important part of competition.
Evidently, the level of competition a student exhibits is largely dependent on the work of internal factors; however, many argue that external factors such as peer performance, teacher incentives, and parent expectations are more influential toward one’s competitiveness than their own determination and habits. This is untrue: external influences definitely impact someone’s perspective on the importance of studying, but one’s competitiveness is more heavily determined by his own motivation, determination and priorities.
Without first being capable of doing the work and internally agreeing to do so, the student will not be able to flourish and become competitive, even less so under the pressure of peers and adults.
In short, the student is the only person who will effectively change his study habits to become more competitive; a student can only be viewed as competitive by his peers if he is being competitive with his expectations of his study habits and priorities first.