Emily Lam

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Self-Entitled Student

I think our society has created a monster: the self-entitled student. I'm not exactly sure how our society created it, but it exist and it's not particularly beneficial to our society or the student.

The self-entitled student I'm talking about is the kind of student that feels he/she deserves something but from a purely objective view does not. I'm not talking about rights here; everybody is entitled to their rights. I'm talking about opportunity, credit, praise, success, etc. The self-entitled student will walk into a class and expect to walk out with a passing and pleasing grade because they showed up and did the bare minimum. And if he/she doesn't receive a pleasing grade, he/she will complain that the course is too hard. The self-entitled student will believe that since he/she chose to go to school and learn instead of working a minimum wage job, he/she deserves a better job when he/she graduates. As you can see, the thought process is flawed: going to college does not merit you a better job and showing up in class and doing the bare minimum does not mean you deserve a good grade.

I've started to notice that the self-entitled student is particularly prevalent at my university or at least at a more intense level of self-entitlment than at other colleges. This is because BU exhibits grade deflations in certain classes. (You know, instead of inflating a grade of say C+ to a B-, a B is deflated to a B- because so many people scored an A and in order to keep the standard bell curve consistent, the grade is deflated.) But typical BU students will think there's grade deflation in all of their classes and mentally inflate their own grades up. So a B student at BU will consider himself/herself an A student if he/she attended some other college. But that's not true since most classes at BU do not employ grade deflation; the majority of classes stick with a no inflation or deflation policy or a bell-curve grading system that benefits the student. See how this sort of thinking will further increase a self-entiled student's sense of self-entitlement?

And because the self-entitlements of these students are coupled with their expectancies to succeed, they experience a sense of struggle. But most of the time, the struggle is not really a struggle. These self-entitled students are just so use to receiving credit for so little effort that the bare minimum work needed to pass in college feels like a huge burden to them. They also become frustrated that they need to work. They think of their other friends who are not working as hard as they are -- for a variety of reasons: different classes, different schools, natural talent, previous exposure to material, etc. -- to receive the same grades they are and believe it's unfair that one of them has to work harder. They don't appreciate the knowledge they are learning. This feeling of struggle and frustration are detrimental to a person's psyche if experienced too often and for long durations. But I've also noticed that self-entitled students don't tend to want to remedy their feelings of struggle and frustration. Instead, they bear it as a badge of honor that they are working hard. But if you are following my logic, this struggle and frustration is more pronounced to them then it actually is. So in other words, they are feeding their own self-entitlement and are kind of stuck in this circle of self-entitlement.

These self-entitled students believe they deserves jobs. They for some reason though don't believe they are equally self-entitled to get jobs. A sense of competition develops. If a friend gets a job, they not only believe they should too but also resent the friend for getting a job before them.  Sometimes a riff forms. But more often then not, these riffs are passive aggressive. Plus the self-entitlement continues in the work force, expecting a higher salary than deserved.

I do find this all deeply troubling. All this bothers me. It comes down to the fact that there's not enough doing and too much talking. Not enough authenticity.

And it of course comes barreling down on my self-integrity. My mother instilled in me early in my life that when something went wrong it was my fault and not somebody's else. Oh how I would try to blame a bad grade on the teacher's lack of teaching skills. But to my mother, that was never a good enough excuse. And to that, I an thankful; to that, I can recognize my own self-entitlement. I don't think a purely self-entitled person can admit to that. They don't take criticism well. But I have of course grown up in this society that has produced the self-entitlement student. So I do believe I exhibit those traits from time to time, despite what my mother has ingrained in me. What I suffer is a mix of the two, I think. Externally, like when I'm talking to a friend, I will readily blame others for my misfortune because that's what society expects to hear -- oh man, I am ashamed of that action though -- I will try not to be self-entitled at all now that I can recognize it. But internally, I will blame myself -- deep down, I tend to blame myself.

So there you have it, my thoughts on the self-entitled student. A quick google of "self-entitled student" will show you results from others who describe it so much better than I have. They are interesting reads. Do check some of them out.

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