Does the Pressure of a Higher Education Lead Students to Depend on Human Enhancement for Elite Academic Performance?
“Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading” -19th century British historian George Trevelyan. Elementary school can be viewed as the foundation for every person and the way they choose to proceed with their daily lives. Kids develop habits early, whether good or bad, and tend to struggle with breaking a bad habit or continuing the use of a good habit as life progresses. Eventually, most students encounter several challenges or struggles in academics wherever that students’ weak spot may be. While millions of striving students are in the hunt for accomplishment and future success, some will go to extremes (much like steroids in sports) to achieve greatness in spite of possible extreme consequences. For example, Pressure from parents on students to achieve that A for excellence can drive students to do almost whatever it takes to maintain such excellence throughout their lives. Other factors that could drive students to go to extremes such as enhancers to succeed include a massive amount of competition throughout school and university life, as well as an economy that requires much more efficient and skilled employees usually taught through a minimum of a Bachelors Degree if not a Masters. The general definition for an enhancer (in this case neuroenhancers) is that it is a form of medical intervention in order to improve and intensify the quality of the thought and execution process in a patient. Two main disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) both impair the patients’ abilities to think clearly, concentrate, or be able to pursue a lengthy task. Ranges of enhancers are used for people with these disorders that put them at a disadvantage to others; these include, methylphenidates (Ritalin, Concerta), amphetamine-dextroamphetamines (also known as Adderall). These drugs work by increasing dopamine and serotonin levels in the patients’ brain; assuming that those levels are below average, this increase in chemicals helps the patient to focus or accomplish a given task at hand. Recently, the drugs have made their way onto college campuses and are, “being used in ways and by persons for whom they were not necessarily intended” (Varga 295). Students have started to abuse the drugs to complete lengthy or difficult tasks in high school, and especially college settings, whether it is cramming all night for an early morning exam or writing a 10-page paper overnight with no attention to adverse long-term effects. Every drug has its’ side effects; Short-term side effects while using neuroenhancers include gastrointestinal problems, blurred vision, increased body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, insomnia and irritability (“Under”), while long-term effects of prolonged use may result in hallucinations, psychotic episodes, cardiac arrest, or even death (“Under”). Even with risks as stifling as death, the popularity, use and prominence of the drug continues to rise (Gillespie, Bailey, Cohen). The use of stimulant drugs has become perceived as a necessity for some students striving to achieve the best or even pass their courses because of the constant fear of failure in light of societal attitude. In our modern society, “parents are deemed ‘good parents’ by society if their child is successful” (Varga 298). As parents are more likely to have graduated college themselves, naturally their expectations for their children are the same, if not higher. As a student progresses through school, parents habitually raise their expectations while failing to consider the increase in difficulty and course load throughout. Consequently this influx of work can cause the student to feel compelled to use enhancers such as Adderall or Ritalin to succeed in stressful situations (Varga 299). As we surely understand that...
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