The So-Called “Perfect Student”

Lauren Mazon
Published on
March 30, 2023

Like me, you may be an avid perfectionist, or a “perfect student”, which is a standard that one would strive for and give their everything to meet. But in reality, that standard is unrealistic- possibly even impossible. Whether or not you have envisioned yourself as being the “perfect student”, it is a standard that is a shining star in the eyes of parents, teachers, and even employers. And with this “perfect student” standard, the already anxiety-ridden school days can be filled with even more pressure as you, a student, attempts to reach or maintain this idea of what is thought to be a “perfect student”. There simply is no such thing.

With the “perfect student" idea, the thought that one cannot make any mistakes slips into the minds of students who are just trying their best to succeed. Jena Ball, writer for Ed Week (2016), states that: “We see this definition of perfection played out in our industrialized classrooms, where all students are expected to learn the same things, in the same way, on the same schedule.” This extremely competitive environment enforces the sense that every student needs to be better than each other, and that superiority is merely based on a standardized test. In a classroom setting, a student (with such standards around them) may start to develop a mindset in which they blame themselves for not getting a higher score or for not understanding a subject as fast, which depletes students at a fairly young age- setting them up for failure. 

As one’s academic career progresses, the environment only gets more competitive. But, since school diminishes a student’s individual thinking and creativity, they become less creative, and, in most cases, less motivated. After growing up in that controlling environment, failure seems like the worst outcome for a student; therefore, a student may shut down and avoid risking any kind of circumstance where they have to collaborate with others or express themselves (Ball, 2016). And eventually, as a young teen who has spent so many years pushing failure towards a dark corner, they are bound to face defeat in their adulthood to a severe degree. 

While the concept of a “perfect student” may have a negative connotation, shaping oneself to become a good student is an easier achievement and all-around beneficial. While nobody is truly perfect, being a good student who participates and accepts inevitable failures will allow students to develop into an adult who can effectively work alone and with others in order to achieve. Derrick Meader, writer for Thought Co. (2019), lists a few qualities that every great student exemplifies. He states that good students are those who are willing to ask questions when no one else will, which allows their knowledge to expand. Meader lists other qualities in good students, such as diligence, involvement, leadership, and motivation. Being a student is a difficult job, so expanding your mindset to include some of these qualities may improve your academic success in the long run. 

Overall, school is a long and grueling process that can be very harsh and stressful on an adolescent mind. So as you, a student, take that path toward adulthood, be mindful of the challenges you may face and the standards that feel extremely important to achieve, because in reality, those standards do not truly define you as a student. You should strive to be the kind of student who is willing to fail and better yourself from those mistakes. Trying to be “perfect” only makes everything about school and growing up much more stressful. So take things as they are and improve when necessary. Just remember, every person has a fault to them- even if they are at the top of their class. 


Ball, J. (2016, September 22). Why Do Students Think They Have to Be Perfect? (Opinion). Education Week. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from

Meador, D. (2019, August 6). 10 Characteristics That Make the Perfect Student. ThoughtCo. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from

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