Competition brings growth

Humans are inherently competitive. Regardless of its significance,  in anything we do we never want to be seen as inferior anyone else. We may rarely notice it, but our tacit competitive nature is always there. The effects of competitiveness are seen in everyday situations, but especially so in the academic and professional world. If not used in an overly-aggressive manner, competition can be beneficial to one’s college experience and professional development.

This innate quality is a driving force of academic excellence. Essentially, it’s the hallmark of academia. Since our younger years, competition has always been a big part of our learning environment. From trying to get the most gold stars in kindergarten to striving to obtain the highest status in one’s chosen profession. Once high school and, subsequently, the college process starts, the competition takes a momentous turn. There is an unspoken, yet extremely present pressure on high school students to be accepted to the best colleges. After college admissions, the competition level is so high and unbearable we silently drown in it.

However, without this friendly rivalry among students, no one would try their absolute hardest to get the best grades and be the best students possible. Students are surrounded by people just as intelligent and academically driven as they are, and they are persistently pitted against each other. Here at Colby, the admissions team meticulously sifted each of us from a pile of many others, which proves our school believes we all have the same or very similar levels of capabilities and potential. Therefore, we are basically competing with clones of ourselves. If not for competition,  students would have no motivation to do better than the next person. Resting at a stagnant level with everyone else would be too comforting and there would be no incentive to aim higher or to challenge ourselves. 

Believe it or not, college is not the finish line of the contest. Those who choose to attend grad school must compete against other qualified students of their college to get into their top choice. Grad schools pick only a handful of the most prestigious students from each college and in a setting where nearly everyone is just as smart as the other, this reality mercilessly looms over our heads like a dark, burdening cloud all throughout our four undergraduate years. It is a constant reminder to reach higher, to never give up and be the best versions of ourselves we can be. We are trained to understand early on that there will always be an eternal race when it comes to our education; we have no choice but to be better, do better, and always try harder than everyone else to reach our ultimate goals in life. After grad school, the plot only continues to thicken. The same process that acts against us during the grad school process applies to the occupational system.  In the professional world, all people do is compete against their colleagues. Everyone’s goal in the professional world is to get the highest position, which has the most power and sometimes the most substantial financial reward.

Everything’s a competition in someway or another. Learning that early sets individuals up to tackle daunting challenges that we will face later in life. Competition is critical to the college experience as well as professional development, because it forces individuals to do everything in our power to succeed and to never cease trying until we reach our goal. We are usually too focused on ourselves to realize that the fundamental reason we voluntarily pull all-nighters and drink coffee like it’s water is that we want to be the best of the best. Without competition, no one would have any motivation to improve themselves. Competition is healthy and it adds character. It promotes good work habits, work ethic, and determination. We receive the most out of our education only when we compete to be the most successful. If everyone was stuck in the same level in every aspect of their lives, life would be boring and potentially destructive. Life’s a never ending championship that everyone should always be fighting to win. Competition encourages us to never settle for less.

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