The Effects of Academic Validation
Validation is seen as a phenomenon where an individual’s work, success, ideas, and creativity are praised and thereby their worth and value are affirmed. The academic scenario bases a student’s worth based on their performance. The work and pressure students face while maintaining the standard of performance are often ignored or given a backseat. Sometimes this academic praise can become a student’s identity. This has an unhealthy consequence. Academic validation is when students relate their worth to their grades and academic results.
Read more: Are you suffering from Identity Crisis?
While assessing your exam grades and results to improve and to know your progress and not incorrect, when this assessment leads to basing one’s joy, identity, self-worth, self-esteem, etc on their grades, it can become problematic. When students start seeking constant validation from their educators and when lack of such validation brings distress and anxiety, an intervention is important.
This does not mean that academic validation in itself is a negative concept. In retrospect, academic validation has been defined as interactions between students and their educators and instructors to develop, facilitate a student and help them gain trust in their abilities and potential, and “help students trust their innate capacity to learn and to acquire confidence in being a college student” (Rendόn, 1994.)
Defining Academic Validation
Academic validation is when an individual comes to depend on their academic outcomes to get a sense of acknowledgement and appreciation. It can classified as a sort of pleasure, a good feeling but it diverges towards a noxious obsession, and academic validation can become a debilitation.
In the pursuit of academic success, students often find themselves navigating a delicate balance between genuine learning and the pressure for academic validation. Being good at academia and getting good grades is a positive and praiseworthy thing. Academic validation becomes negative when students overwork themselves and are buried in stress and anxiety because they want to constantly get that validation from their educators. This constant run behind validation ignores other important aspects of our life.
It is common to see that students who seek academic validation and actively work towards it end up being over-the-top perfectionists. This can hurt the students and they might stay up at night, neglect their social life, and work themselves to burnout. According to Inc. Magazine, “The problem is we end up making career choices to impress other people so we can feel that fleeting rush of validation. In the process, we lose sight of what makes us truly happy” (Vargaz-Gomez, 2022).
Read more: Tips To Choose a Career after Your College
Why is it Crippling?
There are several reasons why the quest for academic validation can hurt one’s mental health.
A study that was conducted in 2020 revealed that 68.8% of students seemed to consider tests, exams, and any assessment of sorts to be anxiety-inducing and also contributing as a significant source of stress. The Stress in America report that is released by APA, has revealed that 87% of students (the majority of them being college-going students) have listed education and academics as one of the major sources of stress. Pascoe et. al, (2019) found that academic stress was related to depression, disturbance in sleep, being more prone to substance use, burnout and anxiety, and even depersonalization.
Impact on Mental Health:
Academic validation gives students constant pressure to excel. Students who seek academic validation constantly work towards meeting a certain standard of expectations that give them anxiety and stress. They constantly feel the need to maintain their high grades, meet academic standards, and have the pressure to excel. Even a slight mistake, bad grade, or failure causes a great amount of distress. Students who depend on academic validation start fearing failure. This fear may lead to perfectionism. The student sees it as their duty and feels compelled to meet unrealistic standards in the academic setting without facing any failure.
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This impacts their mental well-being. Failure to achieve a good score is seen as a failure in life. Academic validation also leaves an imprint on an individual’s identity and self-worth. Challenges in academia may then be perceived as personal failures. Academic success becomes closely linked to self-worth and identity. Other aspects of the student’s life and their personality are ignored in favour of academic validation. Students also feel burnout as they constantly chase validation and have the pressure to excel. This burnout can have a severe negative impact on their mental health and well-being.
Tips to Overcome Dependence on Academic Validation
- Focus on personal interest and passion for learning. Avoid solely relying on external validation.
- View mistakes and challenges as essential components of the learning process. They promote resilience and growth. They also allow you to improve and be better than before.
- Establish achievable goals that align with personal capabilities.
- Recognize and celebrate accomplishments beyond traditional academic achievements. Your diverse skills and experiences need to be acknowledged and given credit as well. This will help in holistic development.
- Make self-care a priority, seeking support when needed. Well-being is indeed important for overall success.
Read More: Self Care: What It Is And What It Isn’t
Studies show how academic pressure affects an individual in such a wide range. Academic validation that gives a student motivation to study and perform best is not crippling, rather it does become a matter of concern when it becomes a source of academic stress. The effect of academic validation on mental health is complex and is influenced by various factors. Essential steps should be taken to overcome dependence on academic validation.