The self-destructiveness of comparison

Story by Sofia Alva
Staff Writer

Illustration by Alicia Zhang
Staff Illustrator

Academic comparison is ubiquitous among SPHS students and high school students across the world; students often use comparison to measure success and take into consideration their peers’ GPAs, SAT scores, and the amount of APs they take. In fact, comparison is a natural reaction to a need for academic reassurance. However, this behavior often leads to unhealthy expectations for success among students. 

Additionally, the presence of academic idols throughout a student’s life puts unnecessary pressure on them to meet the same standards as those students. In order to ensure an environment where a student does not define success by the academic achievements of their peers, students must understand that academics are subjective and comparison is not a productive way to determine success. 

There is a handful of students in every grade who are widely known as the “smartest” among their peers. On a surface level, it appears as though stress does not affect them and academic success comes naturally. Students who are not academically motivated are often intimidated or dissuaded from appreciating their own achievements when compared to these high achieving students.

Students must understand that not everybody naturally excels at academics and that using comparisons to measure success is not a healthy habit. Various factors, not only academics, contribute to success and it is misleading for students to believe that the only way to be successful is to have good grades. 

Teachers must reinforce that it’s okay to be different from your peers and that students must be motivated to focus on things they are good at. In an effort to combat academic comparison, a learning environment that encourages students to focus on the things they are passionate about not just academics, must be encouraged. Teachers should continue to help students thrive academically, but must also realize that not all students excel in school and that is okay. Pushing students to meet unrealistic standards is unhealthy and a student’s potential should be put towards something they are good at or passionate about instead.

Teachers also tend to prioritize high achieving students over students who actually need academic help. Maintaining high achieving student’s grades rather than assisting students who might be struggling, makes for even more comparison between students in the future.

The mindset that academics define whether or not you will be successful is detrimental. Students must not use comparison relating to academics because everyone has different obstacles and privileges that affect the way they succeed in high school. Academics are by nature subjective, and success in school varies from student to student. To avoid failure in the future and unhealthy expectations of success, academic comparison must end. 

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