Many students of all ages struggle with perfectionism, whether as a result of parental pressure or self-impose expectations. It is more common in gift and high-achieving students, though it can also affect students who have learning difficulties.
A common misconception about perfectionism is that only people who do well in school experience the need to be flawless. The truth is that perfectionism can strike any student at any time.
Can striving for perfection be beneficial? Perfectionism is typically seen as a dangerous character flaw or a burdensome personality trait. Perfectionism has been identified as a barrier to college students’ ability to make healthy emotional and academic adjustments. I.e., students who are more interest in learning through physical classes.
In a case, When they have to take online courses for any reason might think that “it’s more convenient to pay someone to take my online class, and they would look for such services. That’s usually how adaptive perfectionist students tackle unexpected situations, while maladaptive students would become more frustrat in such cases.
Therefore, Recent research has revealed that the effects of perfectionism on students are much more complex. There is proof that perfectionism is a complex trait with positive and negative aspects, and its more constructive factors can significantly positively impact students (Stoeber & Otto, 2006).
Academic advisors must learn how to identify healthy and unhealthy perfectionism in students to encourage healthy and adaptive perfectionism while assisting students with maladaptive perfectionism to develop more positive coping mechanisms.
This trait can be found even in Ph.D. students; while preparing a dissertation, they think about the number of undergraduate dissertations that fail each year while they are professionals. In fact, they are surrounded by the question. “How bad does a dissertation have to be to fail,” prior to submission and attempt to defeat it. Some use failures as motivation; others have breakdowns and cry because they believe they are failures (James, 2020).
Healthy perfectionism alleviates students’ performance, while unhealthy perfection leads to more negativity and make student suffer; some of these negative factors due to which students suffer are:
1. Chronic academic stress:
According to Andilynn Feddeler of an educational publishing company, “students can start to develop unrealistically high expectations for themselves that don’t necessarily help them learn” when they are told that the only indicator of their success or learning grades is perfectionism.
Students who aren’t told that the mistakes are part of learning and growth suffer more and take stress to the level where they cannot face the world. To cope with their failures and incompetency, they take help from different online services such as “Do My Online Class” so they will not have to face difficult situations. Due to unnecessary stress, they start avoiding complex tasks.
2. Unrealistic expectations:
Psychologists label students with excessively high standards as self-centered perfectionists, whether or not they live up to them. According to psychotherapist Amy Morin, kids can also be perfectionists with high standards for those around them. The third type is socially prescribed perfectionism, in which students feel that others, like their parents or coaches, have high expectations for them.
Students who have to continuously face failures just because they are afraid to fail tasks stay in continuous anxiety and would feel incompetent in every walk of life.
Perfectionism can also make students feel they must purposefully fail or give up when pushed beyond their comfort zones. When students realize they are learning at a different pace than their peers, they may decide to drop out to avoid the pressure of competing. Students push themselves into depression with these thoughts.
5. Obsessive-compulsive disorder:
Perfectionism has long been believed to contribute to the onset and maintenance of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other types of mental illness, which are challenging to deal with independently.
Students obsessed with perfectionism when facing failure may keep doubting their abilities, resulting in an inferiority complex. When faced with difficulties, students who exhibit maladaptive perfectionism may be more likely to use ineffective coping mechanisms like avoidance and self-blame (Gnilka et al., 2012).
Unhealthy or maladaptive perfectionists are preoccupied with the gap between their demanding, occasionally rigid standards and their output. These students are more likely to procrastinate and have poorer socioemotional adjustment and academic achievement.
Procrastination, according to Hendriksen, is one of the most prevalent symptoms of perfectionism. While teachers may interpret this as a sign of laziness and distractibility, it may actually be the case that a student is afraid of not being able to live up to their own expectations and is reluctant to start anything.
Signs of maladaptive perfectionism include self-harm as it leads to anxiety and stress, and eventually, an individual goes towards self halm.
9. Increase Checking Behaviours:
The excessive worry about making a fatal error is linked to perfectionism. Particularly, if a student is not absolutely confident that he has locked the door or turned off the stove, they might keep going back to check these things.
They might be concerned about leaving the door open all day or leaving the stove on and igniting the house.
Repeatedly checking only confirms that one is not perfect and may even be “losing their mind.” This may exacerbate negative feelings and lack of confidence, worsening checking behaviors.
Teachers should watch out for students who define their value in terms of their successes and accomplishments and who have all-or-nothing mentalities, believing that they are worthless if they don’t behave perfectly.
Additionally, perfectionist students might find it difficult to take pride in their work because they feel they failed if they don’t meet an excessively high standard, which leads to hopelessness.
A higher managerial priority will be given to taking action to better manage perfectionists. Perfectionism has increased over the past 27 years, according to a study of nearly 42,000 young people worldwide. For students, aiming for perfection is not particularly helpful. Teachers and parents might do better to focus on “good enough” rather than encouraging students to be “perfect.”
Stoeber, J., & Otto, K. (2006). Positive conceptions of perfectionism: Approaches, evidence, challenges. Personality and social psychology review, 10(4), 295-319. [Accessed date: 7-14-2022]
Gnilka, P. B., Ashby, J. S., & Noble, C. M. (2012). Multidimensional perfectionism and anxiety: Differences among individuals with perfectionism and tests of a coping‐mediation model. Journal of Counseling & Development, 90(4), 427-436. [Accessed date: 7-14-2022]
2020. What happens if you fail your dissertation. Online available at <https://www.dissertationproposal.co.uk/guide/what-happens-if-you-fail-your-dissertation/> [Accessed date: 7-14-2022]