Self -Esteem and Student Success

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The Effects of Self-Esteem on Student Success
Cristine Scott
Central Michigan University
CED 502 Student Development in Higher Education
Mr. John Laliberté

In today’s’ society, success is often measured by academic and professional achievement. Higher education provides more opportunity and freedom. Statistics verify that generally, the more highly educated have higher earnings and there is a significant difference between wages earned by employees with College degrees and those without. Higher education is often perceived as a means to a ‘better life’ .Though many recognize the benefits of higher education, the rate at which students leave in their first year of College is still very high. Students leave their first year of College for a number of reasons, ranging from financial issues to feelings of inadequacy. Though some of these reasons are beyond the scope of the institution, certain factors may be preventable. Regardless of which factor or factors keeps the student from completing his College education, ‘support’ is the key issue. This paper focuses on the effect emotional and social factors, more specifically self-perception and self-esteem have on academic success and the steps/iuo5 &}; higher education institutions can take in order to insure student well-being and retention.

Studies (Leafgran, 1989) have suggested that emotionally and socially healthy students are more likely to succeed in higher education and less likely to leave College. “A positive sense of self-worth has been associated with students’ successful experiences in academic performance” (Crocker et al., 2002). Past research and studies advocate the positive causal effects of self-perception and self-esteem on emotional health and academic performance.

Similarly, there has also been research regarding the effects attending College may have on self-worth as well as physical and social well-being. Self-concept at the time of enrollment and other socio economic and psychological strains, necessarily influence how an individual’s self-concept transitions during the first year at a College. The support of family and friends is also critical. Maintaining emotional health at a good level is an important predicator of student success. It is important that institutions and all their members recognize there is a role they can play in supporting students so that their self-worth remains intact.

More recently, studies have discounted the overrated importance given to self-esteem or self-concept as a leading dictator of academic performance and student success. In a study performed by Pritchard and Wilson 218 undergraduate students were examined in order to determine the effects of social and emotional factors on student success. The study performed measurements of self-perception using a scale that addresses students’ personal feelings about themselves related to academic competencies. It concluded there is no one factor in particular that affects academics. Rather, adjustment to College is dependent on a multitude of factors affecting emotional and social health and all these factors are contributors to student success (Pritchard, 2003).

Throughout this study, the research measures students’ self-perceived competence in academics alone. In the case of this study, I believe the authors have considered academic self-perception and self-esteem as synonymous. I understand academic self-perception and self-esteem or self-worth to be quite distinct. I see academic self-perception as a humans’ perception of his or her academic competencies and self-esteem as ones image of who they are and how others regard them, all encompassing. I would argue that academic self-perception could indeed only affect academic success minimally, since it is only one small component of self-esteem. I have met many students with good self-esteem but distorted self-perceptions of academic competence. They are generally not the students to leave College in their...
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