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29 November 2012

Young Adults Who Perform Well in College Feel Better About Themselves

Keywords: personality, self-esteem, survey, India & Southern Asia, education, happiness, health, learning, peers, personality characteristics, young adults,

Young adults’ feeling of self-esteem and self-worth can be affected by a variety of factors. A study in the International Journal of Research Studies in Psychology reveals that one important factor is performance in college. The better teens perform, the better they feel about themselves.

Take aways

  • Students who perform better in school feel better about themselves than students who perform less well.
  • Sex also plays a role in the development of self-worth. Girls rely more on physical attractiveness and social performance, while boys rely more on personal success. 
  • It is not certain if high performance actually leads to higher self esteem. It is also possible that students who feel better about themselves are more motivated to learn, and therefore perform better at school. 
  • Teachers, administrators, and parents should pay more attention to the development of children’s mental wellbeing. Special courses to strengthen students’ self-esteem might be successful in improving their performance in school. 

Study information

  • The question?

    What is the connection between performance in school and students’ feeling of self-worth, and how do feelings of self-worth differ between boys and girls?

  • Who?

    240 first-year students from different urban colleges of Odisha (50% boys) 

  • Where?

    Odisha, India

  • How?

    All students completed a survey which included the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale. This scale contained 100 statements to measure student’s feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. Five aspects of self-concept were measured: physical self, moral self, personal self, family self, and social self. Students were also valued for their performance in school: students securing 80% or more marks (i.e., American GPA: 4; average total grade: A or A+; British class: first) were labeled as academically competent, and students securing 50% or more marks (i.e., American GPA: 2.70-3.32; average total grade: B- or B; British class: lower second) were labeled as academically les-competent. 

Facts and findings

  • Competent students had stronger feelings of self-worth and self-esteem (better physical, moral, personal, family, and social self concept) than less competent students. 
  • Differences between boys and girls:
    • Boys’ feeling of self-worth and self-esteem were based on how they saw themselves as a person (e.g., personal self), whereas girls feeling of self-worth and self-esteem were based on how they valued their physical appearance (physical self) and their social skills (social self). 
    • Boys however, felt more confident about their physical appearance (physical self) and their character (personal self), and girls were more confident about their social skills and their interaction with the family (family self). 
  • Critical note: The study does not solve the chicken-or-egg question. The results could be reversible as well. It is conceivable that students with a higher self-worth have a better motivation and ability to learn, and therefore perform better in school.