Students Strive for “Perfection”


A book with turning pages lying on top an open book. Photo by Mummelgrummel.

By Emily Polanowski, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Many students have a simple mindset of a “C” is not enough.

This perfectionist way of thinking has grown over the past decade in high school age students, and it is increasing at a steady pace.

Freshman Lydia Tourville knows many people who want perfect grades, including herself.

Aiming high is not the problem; failing to learn from mistakes and not being able to accept potential areas of growth is.

Registered psychologist and director of InnerDrive Bradley Busch summed up the issue as, “Striving for perfection doesn’t only make young people unhappy – it also affects their development.”

Busch explains how perfectionism can lead to fear of failure, and he also cites Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, stressing her ideas of how unhealthy perfectionism is connected to fixed mindsets (when an individual believes one’s abilities are unchangeable);  students should aim to acquire a growth mindset (when an individual sees potential to improve one’s abilities).

Some students, like freshman Katie Henry,  notice the fear of failure in their peers.

 “I think it can stem from the students around you, and society giving you this pressure to constantly be good at everything, and that it is not okay to fail,” said Henry.

Tourville sees the phenomena as a means for students to improve with a growth mindset.

“I think it’s a good thing because you are striving to achieve a common goal, that is, to get good grades, and you are striving to get better in what you are doing,” said Tourville.“It’s okay to really want good grades that can depict your future, but I still will support [others] if they end up getting a B or a C.”

Some believe students should be happy as long as they know they worked hard on their assignments.

English teacher Madison Carr wants students to be happy with trying their best and learning from mistakes.

“I always sit them down and tell them that it is not the end of the world if you get something wrong, as long as you don’t let that hurt your confidence in what your goal is towards your grades,” said Carr.“It’s okay to make mistakes, and I tell my students to always try their best and not get defeated if they get one or two wrong. Failure is the only way that a student can reach success.”

Acquiring a growth mindset will allow students to succeed and to learn from their past performances, even if while “failing” forward.