Is an Academically Competitive Atmosphere in School a Pro or a Con

In Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, Rosalind poses this perturbing question: “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?” Humanity has managed to make a sport out of pursuing good things to the excess. Essentially, sunlight is imperative for life, most notably in its role in photosynthesis; this is an undisputed fact. However, one needs only to look outside and see the effects prolonged sun exposure has done to our generation: rapidly rising skin cancer cases and premature skin aging. The latter of these adverse effects of sunlight has given rise to an increased demand for plastic surgery, which in turn is transforming the next generation into something short of walking mannequins. Too much of a good thing turns out to be a very bad thing, indeed. Water and oxygen are two more examples of elements necessary for life. An excess of either results in water intoxication or hyperventilation, another case in point. Whether by intelligent design or nature’s own mechanisms, exorbitance, as a rule, is simply unprofitable.

Recently, the great experts up above have discovered that an academically competitive environment can be conducive to a student’s overall education. While this hypothesis has proved suitably true, it remains pertinent to recall that excess is not and will never be constructive. Magnet schools and gifted and talented programs are showing up all over the nation. These “academically competitive environments” are often application-based and accept only top-notch students. It’s difficult to comprehend the amount of pressure these students are subsequently subjected to once they’re accepted. Their entire world commands them to work harder, do better, and win more.

It is no wonder that the suicide rate for adolescent to young adult Asian-American women surpasses that of any other age group, race, and sex. Historically, women have had to work harder than men to prove themselves. Additionally, Asian-Americans are often thought of as being very intelligent and the adolescent to young adult demographic centers around the time of life when school is considered most important. It seems that the over-competitiveness of their academic environment was deleterious to both their education and life as a whole. Once again, an example of a good thing gone bad.

Admittedly, the competition in these programs and schools do have many beneficial effects; they seem to encourage students to perform at their best. The great experts were right in this sense. However, it is crucial to recognize the breaking point for the subjects of this dangerous experiment. The focus at all times must not be on the results, but on keeping the subjects safe. Only then does the world truly profit from the results that naturally follow.