Across America, students are feeling especially compelled do well in school and receive good grades. Whether these pressures come from family, financial circumstances or even students themselves, it is a common feeling amongst most college students.
Four Keene State College students spoke up on where this pressure comes from and how they’re managing it.
KSC junior Savannah Dube feels the pressure from most adults in her life to do well while she completes her architecture degree.
“My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will constantly ask how I am doing. While they would still congratulate me even if I didn’t do well, I can feel the pressure to give them good news and to tell them that I am doing well in school,” said Dube, who added that this often leads to her putting pressure on herself to do well.
“I don’t see getting less than a 3.8 GPA as an option. Each semester, I will make sure that I only get an AB in one of my classes just so that I can keep my GPA [where I want it],” Dube said.
Dube, who has two younger sisters, wants to set a good example.
“My mother loves to brag about me and my sisters so she definitely puts pressure on me to do well so that she can tell her friends that I’ve made Dean’s List every semester,” Dube, a self-proclaimed “good” student, said.
“I hope [my sisters] will see that it is possible to do well in school so that they set goals for themselves to do well,” Dube said.
Dube explained that she doesn’t want people to compare her and her sisters to one another, and that makes the pressure a little harder.
“If they don’t do well in school and I do, then people may judge them for that and even worse, they may judge themselves and think that they aren’t good enough,” Dube explained.
Dube’s husband, a U.S. Marine, is proud of his wife for what she has already accomplished, though he is always encouraging her to do better.
“[The fall 2016] semester, I was so close [to receiving a 4.0]. I received a 3.9 and I thought [my husband] was going to be disappointed in me because it wasn’t the 4.0, but he was really proud of me and told me that this semester I will reach that goal,” Dube said.
KSC senior Sean Stinehour receives a lot more pressure from his school loans than his family to do well in school.
According to Stinehour, his main focus after graduating will be getting a job to pay off his loans.
Being the youngest in his family, Stinehour said that it was nice watching his siblings go through college before him.
“I’ve been able to take the good and learn from their ‘bad,’” Stinehour said, adding that time-management was a common theme.
“I laid out all my classes in my first semester and kept reviewing it ever since to make sure I was trimming fat and not wasting time,” Stinehour explained. It was that kind of oversight that is allowing Stinehour to graduate with a major in computer science and a minor in mathematics an entire year early.
Stinehour’s sister is a KSC alumna, and his half-brother is currently a KSC student as well. With that being said, Stinehour has never really been compared to the others academically.
Stinehour explained, “My sister pursued education and English, while my half-brother pursues economics. So, the areas don’t overlap too much and I’ve been able to create my own path.”
In the end, Stinehour said that he feels like he’s making his family proud.
Stinehour said, “I’m involved on campus, I get good grades and I have awesome friends. That’s a win for me.”
KSC junior Nathaniel Wolf said that the pressure to do well in school roots back to his days in high school.
“I was a pretty bad student then [and] didn’t care about my grades, so my parents were pretty tough on me,” Wolf said.
Wolf added that when he began to put the pressure on himself, he began doing better in school.
In addition to the internal pressure, Wolf doesn’t want to lose his scholarship by letting his grades slip.
“I have two little sisters, one goes to a private university and the other aspires to go to Columbia University. By keeping my scholarship I can take a little economic pressure of my parents,” Wolf said.
The pressure of having two younger sisters never really affected Wolf until he came to KSC.
Wolf said, “When I was in high school, I was the example of what kind of student my parents did not want [my sisters] to be. However, as of late, I have become a better example to them about setting goals and achieving them.”
Wolf added that he can definitely say that he has made his family proud.
“As a Holocaust and Genocide Studies major, I do a lot of work with social justice and activism, a field my mother has been heavily involved in over the past four years or so,” Wolf explained. “The uniqueness of the major was able to secure me an internship with the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism—an extraordinary opportunity that I feel I could not have reached without the pressure of my family.”
KSC film studies junior Kevin Ayotte said that having a “more accomplished” younger brother definitely turns up the pressure on his own education.
Ayotte explained, “My brother often gets straight A’s, so if I am any less, I am often met with ‘the look of shame,’ so to speak.”
In specifics, Ayotte said that a lot of pressure comes from his father’s ideas on college.
“My father constantly [tells] me that college is near worthless and I should quit before I get myself into debt, which worries me because unless I do good in college, I am essentially digging myself into a hole of debt and failure,” Ayotte said.
Ayotte continued that he always felt like he should have been paving the way for his younger brother. Ayotte said, “Though, since he has found his own success, that whole feeling of leadership and being a guide for my little brother has been taken away.”
In spite of all of that, Ayotte said that his recent successes have definitely made his family, as well as himself, proud.
“I was able to join Sigma Pi and sort out a lot of my life for the better. Since I met Sigma Pi, I got a well-paying job, good friends, people skills and got the resolve to learn about the things I don’t know,” Ayotte said. “Overall, I am happy with my life as it is now, but no matter who you are, there is always a pressure to succeed, whether it be from family, friends or from yourself.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org