Posted by: Sara Valente6 MAR 2011
When it comes to exams, university and placements there is always considerable and inevitable competition. Every summer, there are limited numbers of hospital positions and jobs available so students must make sure that they are prepared in order to ensure they have the best possible chance of securing their work experience. There is even slight competition amongst friends about who can get the highest grades. But competitive environments are often coupled with an incredible amount of pressure that can turn fun, healthy competition into rather stressful and often demoralising situations. What bothers me most, is that sometimes university can spur on this competitiveness and when does it become too much?
I was initially struck by this problem when we were informed that we had to make a choice between extra-curricular modules. However, if one module was over-subscribed precedence was given to the students that had the highest grade point average. This was then coined the ‘fair’ way of appointing modules. Unfortunately, I disagreed with this particular method because it then meant that many students were losing out on the way their degree was structured due to the fact that they just didn’t work hard enough. If anything, wouldn’t a ‘fair’ way of doing this be giving the international students first choice since they pay higher fees?
In the end, it all turned out fine since they allowed more students onto a particular course nevertheless it made me a little more paranoid about where I stood in the student hierarchy. What if this sort of system was implemented in parts of the degree in later years? I don't want to be denied access to the education I want.
Another way in which competition was induced, but in less a serious form, a ‘good behaviour points system’. This means that whenever we act in a professional way or show an active interest and involvement in the course we are awarded points. Then possibly, a small prize would be given to the student with the most points. This for me was an excellent way of having a healthy dose of competition amongst students in which good work is finally recognised and awarded. Until Idiscovered that not only were points awarded but also deducted. Which I think quite frankly, completely contradicts the whole scheme. All this does is enforce a negative attitude towards students, like taking away their gold star in school. The last thing that us twenty-year-olds need is a petty classroom environment that we spent years getting away from.