Students’ exaggerated ambitions – a major problem

Comment by Ludwig Neyses on a key educational problem (see paper in this link) :

Unrealistic striving for academic excellence has a cost

Prof. Ludwig Neyses, former vicepresident and acting president, University of Luxembourg / April 4, 2019 at 04:41

Thank you, Tanya, for a very insightful and well-argued comment. From my many years of experience in university teaching and management, I’d like to add one element which you mention indirectly.

A very good or brilliant student at High School (or equivalent) will almost invariably (and rightly) get positive feedback from their teachers, parents, maybe peers. When they then come to university, there will be many ‘very good or brilliant’ students who used to be the best in High School, particularly in the disciplines with restricted admissions, such as medicine etc.

So, the student who is used to being (amongst) the best will suddenly realise there are people even better, and a lot to boot. This is a common source of frustration and pedagogically, teachers at High School, parents and we as university teachers should much better address questions such as ‘how to learn to have a realistic appreciation of oneself’, see where strengths lie that others don’t maybe have (e.g. lateral thinking) etc. If that issue was approached more systematically, we could avoid many frustrations – AND: I do think student mentors are key in this process!

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