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Hot Take: Academia Is Not Built For Everyone’s Success

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Holy Cross chapter.

After being a student for the past 18 years, I consider myself an expert on the ins and outs of academia. I have seen every type of school environment, as I went to public elementary and middle school, then private/Catholic high school and college. I have seen the scope of all different teaching styles and the way they are perceived by students. I’ve concluded that no one method is without fail, and even the “perfect” teaching styles find themselves in situations in which they are challenged. Any intentions of the educator can get lost in the heat of the moment and cause a diversion from their plan. Every student has doubted their abilities at one point, due to a failing grade or just imposter syndrome. Both sides of the classroom find themselves stretched too thin and burning out. While there is no universal solution to this problem, I believe that there are ways for both students and teachers to come together to support each other in every education system, no matter the type.

The major source of stress for students in the classroom is exams; these time trials force students to present everything they remember onto one sheet of paper. These are obviously not the perfect way to demonstrate one’s learning, as there is always the ticking pressure of time, on top of the challenge to memorize all the information. The pressure alone forces one to doubt the same information they stared at for hours on end.  While I think that there does need to be a way in which teachers assess students, I believe it should be individualized and not the end all be all. Not all students are perfect test takers or writers, but that’s why they are a student: they want to learn. Some are perfect test takers and others can only answer questions when they have time to develop and answer. An individual’s strong suits tend to come into play when they decide to specialize in something and declare a major. However, in the years prior to that, they have to make due for all subjects. One “bad” essay should not cause a student to fail a class, and one poor test grade should not ruin a subject for a student entirely. There needs to be an aspect of grading that is based on completing the work, as well as putting in effort. I propose the first grade should be the starting point for the rest of the course. Everyone is starting at a different point, and therefore should be judged based on their own personal growth, rather than in comparison to someone else. Grading is always the contention point between a professor and their students. Everyone either wants their grade to be rounded up, will beg for extra credit, or will settle for a retake on an assignment they didn’t do well on.​​ Through this, the teacher becomes the enemy, as they dictate which grade is given. Therefore, as the ones with the power, the relationship becomes tense instead of collaborative. Students should be the ones in charge of their own education, as they are the only ones that know how much work went into an assignment or test. Some professors use labor based gradings or allow students to fill out a survey after an assignment, but it is a small fraction of the entire educator population. There is no right solution to this problem, but I think that educators need to prioritize giving students control.

The word learning means exploration, challenges, successes, and failures. There is an expected level of confusion when taking on a new adventure, so why do we punish this confusion in the classroom? We as a society need to invite students into academia and support their intellectual journeys instead of discouraging the improvement of oneself.

Alissandra Conlon

Holy Cross '24

Sophomore majoring in chemistry with a studio art minor. Outside of the classroom you can find me hanging out with my friends, in the dance studio, or out to dinner.