CON: Valedictorians

As the competition for getting accepted into college skyrockets, earning the prestigious title of valedictorian is the cause of much stress. The title of valedictorian should be eliminated, as it turns students’ education into competition, and forces serious candidates to lose sight of the importance of their emotional, mental or physical health.

The title of valedictorian emphasizes the idea of being perfect, which is ultimately harmful. According to Jason Moser, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, perfectionism, while not classified as a disease, has been connected to poor physical health and to health problems such as eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Moser also found that although valedictorians do exceptionally well within eminently structured systems, they “do not break molds or succeed as entrepreneurs or in the creative arts.”

At Lexington High School in Massachusetts, the class rank and the valedictorian award was removed decades ago. LHS principal stated that some school districts needed the enticement of a valedictorian award to get students to work hard. However, she found that it led to a more urgent necessity to abate “the pressure of perfection.”

The ranking system also inherently promotes a culture of unnecessary competition in an environment that is already duly competitive and overly focused on test scores and grades. Students focused solely on the title do whatever it takes to preserve a high GPA.

Rewarding students with the title of valedictorian might entice them to enroll in easy classes or mediocre levels of required courses to ensure themselves outstanding GPAs. In many cases, they avoid a non-weighted course, even if it interests them, because it won’t boost their rank.

Recognizing students just based on numbers is absolutely absurd. Doing so twists their education into a competition where the odds of winning are slim and leads them to a point where “competition and rivalry become more important than the pursuit.”

According to Jan Brogan, a correspondent for the Boston Globe and parent of a valedictorian, by the time her daughter was 14, she was working herself into what would become “annual bouts of exhaustion that mimicked mono.” Two months after she made her speech, she was hospitalized for an eating disorder.
Depending on the person, the title of valedictorian can bring either satisfying or atrocious thoughts. However, in any situation, when the bad outweighs the good, the obstruction should be removed and stopped at all costs.

In this case, when the valedictorian title is causing high school students all over the world to feel extreme stress and forces them to feel incredible amounts of pressure, this “honor” should be completely removed from all schools.