Classroom Competition: What Makes Students Work

For some students in college, grades are everything. A grade point average (GPA) can heavily affect scholarships and if someone can’t afford to go to the school without a scholarship, not having good grades can be disastrous. Good grades can also be helpful in the future. In a post-college job, having a high GPA can prove to an employer that you have the skills and qualifications for the job that you are applying for, and that you’re willing to work hard to do well.

Getting good grades can also lead to building a good relationship with a professor. Sometimes, professors have connections with others in their fields: people who may be hiring. If you have a good relationship with these professors, it may make getting a job in your preferred field much easier.

Students can be driven by both internal and external pressures. Some students, no matter how much they may hate a class, dislike a professor, or just do not care about the material, still drive themselves to complete their work to the best of their ability, simply because they are determined to succeed.

In other cases, it is external pressures that drive students to do well, whether that be scholarships and the chances of getting a job after college, like mentioned above, or a desire to please their parents or simply be recognized for the work that they are doing. A lot of college life can also hinge on getting good grades, such as getting a spot on the Dean’s List, being eligible for a study abroad, and being able to join a sorority or fraternity.

Liz Roderick, a freshman psychology major, is motivated by external pressures. “I’m motivated to succeed in my classes for the sake of impressing future employers and not disappointing people,” she said.

This seems to be a strong motivation for many, most people come to college hoping to get the training they need to find a job, and getting good grades is an important part of that. There are also a lot of tips and tricks when it comes to getting good grades.

Some of these tips are basic, such as reading over the syllabus, going to class, and making sure that you get enough sleep at night. (It can be hard to wake up for an 8:30 am class when you didn’t go to sleep until four in the morning!)

Other advice includes getting to know your professors, making sure that studying is prioritized so that you spend the most time working on your harder classes, and therefore getting a good grade. You can also take electives that will be easy to do well in, which can give your GPA a boost when needed. And of course, make sure that you pick the right major, sometimes people pick a major based on the orders of their parents or another external force, and can do poorly because of a lack of knowledge or interest.

And then of course, there are study tips in general. Katharine Dix, a freshman political science major, recommended finding a quiet spot, “a comfortable place with little distractions.” She also points out that “It’s helpful to make sure you know you have all the things you need, so that you don’t have an excuse to get up and distract yourself.”

While these are just a few of many tips, there are dozens of websites devoted to giving advice on time management, effective studying strategies, and other tools.

Mary Harris, a specialist professor of commuication, said, “When the competition comes from the desire to be the best version of yourself, the competitive attitude could be a positive attribute. In general, people are competitive for the wrong reasons, and have toxic motivating factors.”

“The competitive nature can be a slippery slope. [Students] might not be doing something because they want too, their just putting up a facade. My message to people is to try to do the best they can do with any challenge they are presented with just for the pride of their work,” Harris continued.

Becoming competitive and driven in the classroom is a fact of life for most college students. Whether they are motivated by themselves or by something else, like their parents, a minimum GPA requirement, or the hope of a future job, the end result is all the same: an endless drive to succeed, one that is often assisted by study tips and tricks. For many, this is just another aspect of college life, as essential as any other.