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Is it okay to be an Average Student?

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Before you start reading this article, we want to ask a few questions of yourself:

  • How do you feel when you read on Facebook or any other social media about one of your friend’s big achievements in their studies or career?
  • How do you feel when you read about legends such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or others, who have done something exceptionally well in their life?
  • How did you feel when you get average marks on your exams when you couldn’t qualify for an entrance exam or you couldn’t win a competition that was really important for you?
  • How do you feel when your parents expect a lot of things from you and you also have a lot of dreams but in reality, you are living a normal lifestyle?

In most of the above cases, an average student compares themselves with others. They feel inferior, may think a lot about their mediocrity, and sometimes feel like a loser. Social media often “tells” us that it’s not okay to be an average student. 

Now we come to the main topic and discuss the idea that in our culture today students are divided into three different categories based on their academic performance.  

  • The first category belongs to lower performing students. They usually do whatever they want in life.
  • The second category belongs to higher performing students who do exceptionally well in their studies, job, career and often get a lot of attention from others. People expect a lot of things from a great performer.
  • The third and last is the average student category who lies between both of the above categories or some people might refer to them as mediocre students.

When it comes to successful people, in most cases, the best students get a great job, a great lifestyle, and get a lot of attention and respect from others. The worst students or low performers, in most cases, start their own business or do hard labor work as they have fewer options for a career. They don’t have fear of failure, so for money and desperation, they may also do exceptionally well in their life (at least based on their own perceptions of success and happiness). Average students live a decent or “normal” lifestyle and may sometimes keep pushing forward to better opportunities. Parents have expectations of them, they compare themselves with others, and in general, they often try to make their life better than average. They can often have a fear of failure and most of the time they avoid taking risks in their life. They can accept most situations and become comfortable with whatever they have and wherever they are.

The above categories we have considered are based on student marks and performance in their studies. Now, at this point, we need to understand that we all are born with different aptitudes and every student will have different capabilities to grasp certain things. We can better understand the categories of students through a Bell Curve. People who are working in the corporate sector may have knowledge of a Bell curve or a normal distribution of performance ratings and appraisals. It’s easy to understand the Bell Curve and differentiate student’s performance through the curve. 

Image Source: Google Trends

If there are n number of students in a class then we can represent their performance of how good they are in their studies through the horizontal axis of the Bell curve. We can categorize students based on their academic performance through this curve. This curve is very thin at both ends, where left side represents fewer numbers of students whose performance is very low and the right side is also thin which represents fewer students whose performance is exceptionally good. The majority of students fall in the average category or the middle of the curve. Their performance is neither poor nor exceptional. We can apply this curve to the categories of students. 

Now the question is:

Is it okay to tag a student an average student, poor student, or a great student in their studies considering only academic learning or examination marks? 

We need to understand that every student has their own strengths and weaknesses and the fact is we are all average at something, poor at something, and exceptionally good at something. Students who are exceptionally good in their studies may be below average in many other things. It’s a universal fact that everything comes at some cost. In order to be exceptionally good at something, the most important things are consistency, time, and energy. In many of these cases for popular celebrities, brilliant entrepreneurs, or extraordinary students, their life may be inadequate or dysfunctional in other areas. 
Take the example of Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs. Many people admire him and some may even dream to be like him, but behind his success story, there is a dark side. Steve had fewer friends and several issues in his own family. His health was also compromised as he admitted this in one of his interviews. 

Why it’s okay to be an average student? 
It’s true that an average student doesn’t get as much recognition as the greater performers. Our media (news and social platforms) are flooded with information about great performers who fit in the exceptional end of the Bell curve. ALL students can not be exceptional and there are no magazines that are going to make a list of average people and their lifestyles. Most of us reside in the middle of the curve, but we can not ignore the beauty of simplicity which can be found most of the time in average people. Average people are more often versatile and thrive at MANY things like relationships with family and friends, and keeping a steady job and income. Extraordinary people can have too much pressure from society and they work endlessly to fulfill the expectations of others. Today our culture of constant technology access makes us believe that everyone needs to do extraordinary things in their life and being average has become the new definition of failure. Think about this point, if everyone has the ability to be extraordinary then that would become the new “average”, so being average is just a state of mind nothing else. 

Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them. 
—-Joseph Heller 

So why don’t we all try to become extraordinary? 
Of course, we all should try to do well in life as best we can. Being an average student is not a sin but pursuing mediocrity is also not necessarily a good thing and we need to understand that life is not just about running in a rat race. Most of us believe that life is only worthwhile if you are a great person or exceptional at something, but we need to see the other side as well. You will always feel like a failure if you put your efforts into continuously being more successful than everybody else. You will always find someone else doing something better than you, you will always compare yourself with others, you will have constant pressure, stress, anxiety and all these things may lead you to a dark place in your life. The pleasure of being average can be amazing. You can cherish the moments in life, help someone in need, do something you care about, and live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. In the end, ask one question yourself: Is it really that bad to be happy with the small things? 

Average people or students are also great. It’s just that they may not get noticed and recognized as publicly.


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Last Updated : 31 Aug, 2021
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