Academic Validation: Is it Really Worth All The Stress?

It may feel rewarding, but it takes a toll on your mental health


Academic validation is when a student relies on their academics to feel recognized as an individual. What many don’t realize is how draining constantly worrying about your grades and pushing yourself to only do your best in school really is in the mind of a teenager. Art Credit: Crystalyn Estabillo

Crystalyn Estabillo

Ever since many of us were little, we’ve heard the phrase, “Get good grades and do your best!” But, who knew a statement would have such a major effect later on in life? It wasn’t until I entered high school that I realized the emotional connection I had based on academic success. 

In a school setting, every teenager has their own academic goals and aspirations. Many teenagers say they must only get straight As, while others are okay with a “C” average. Maintaining an outstanding high school transcript can be beneficial in the future, but is it really worth all of the stress to know I’m currently ranked number 27 out of 397?

There are numerous reasons students rely on academic validation. Some aim to become the next valedictorian at graduation, while others want to go to ivy-league colleges and some feel the need to live up to their parents’ standards.

 But, while a variety of students are gifted academically, the constant amount of stress they put themself under hinders their ability to be fully successful. Not all students are strong test takers, which makes up a significant percentage of the current grading system, and affects the overall grade for those who continuously do poorly on these kinds of assessments. Students also have other responsibilities such as sports, jobs or helping around the house, which adds more stress and interferes with reaching the success they crave in academics. 

Despite all of the stress, everyone is different when it comes to academics. The need to feel validated academically can give an individual motivation to put effort in their schoolwork. Academic validation gives students the boost of self-worth and reassurance they look for in life. Many students say that relying on academics for positive reinforcement gives them the push to stay up endlessly studying, or working on assignments to ensure they do well on them.

Breaking out of the toxic mindset that academic validation instigates can be difficult. We should start to understand that we do not need to hold such high standards for ourselves constantly. Prioritize our health. Work out more often, meditate or do something you enjoy. Reflect on the mistakes you made, and learn how to grow from them. Find balance in your academic life and personal life.

Grades are just grades. Students, myself included, should be proud of our efforts and accomplishments, without the need to put ourselves through immense amounts of stress and pressure. You are more than what your report card says.