Managing Expectations and Grades
Stacey Lin is a third-year industrial design student.
School can be tough: mentally, physically and emotionally. It requires you to put in many hours of hard work, to commute through rush-hour traffic to get to campus, to wake up early or go to bed late. But what is this all for? Many would say to achieve higher grades, to maintain a certain GPA or to satisfy their parents. All of these expectations can be both motivating and damaging to a person’s mental state.
I have been fortunate enough to have come from an Asian family that is against the stereotype of being relentlessly demanding over school grades and achievements. That isn’t to say that there aren’t still expectations. My parents expect me to do my best and to always try hard. They expect a certain level of achievement and they want to see me succeed. However the expectations and pressure that I put on myself often overshadows those of my parents. I feel the constant need to make them proud and to deliver above and beyond. This is a need that has been a part of me for as long as I can remember and contrary to many beliefs and stereotypes, was not completely created by my parents.
I myself don’t fully understand the origin of this need to overcompensate, but I know that it isn’t a healthy way to live. It’s ok to feel disappointed in a lower-than-expected mark or to be upset when you feel like you could have done better, but you cannot let these lows control you. Having expectations is normal, and so is not meeting those expectations. I know that I and many other students often feel the need to have to achieve a certain GPA or to be among the top nth percent of the class. That is perfectly ok. The important thing to note is that failure is also ok. As long as you are able to learn from your mistakes and to manage your expectations, failing every once in a while is actually a healthy, and sometimes necessary, thing to do. Although cliché, it is true: you often learn more from your failures than your successes.
Don’t get me wrong, grades are important, but they are also only a sole, singular, one-dimensional way of measuring your academic achievement. Your grades do not take into account your community involvement, your athletic achievements, your social life or any other aspect of life which is important to you as a person. As always, balance is key. The point is that you should set goals and achieve your best, but do so in a way that fosters your own healthy personal development. Try to make yourself more well-rounded and try to live beyond your grades. Keep striving to be the best and keep setting goals for yourself in all that you do, just remember to not let your results define you.