health education dominant

Balancing health and academic success

It’s 2:04 a.m. With a large cup of coffee in hand and a huge stack of unfinished papers piled up on your desk, you struggle to keep your eyes open, wondering: should I stay up re-doing math problems to save that borderline grade or should I call it a night and study during lunch?

None of the above, actually. 2 a.m.’s are for sleeping and lunches are for eating.

While getting that extra hour of sleep may not mean much compared to earning that letter A grade, it’s time to set things straight. Your health trumps your grade point average. It’s a given that if your health starts to suffer then oftentimes so will your grades.

By eating instant noodles for dinner to save an additional 10 minutes for studying, weight gain and an unhealthy diet are inevitable. What’s even worse is skipping an entire meal just to finish reviewing notes one last time. Every day I see students in the library during lunch doing exactly that instead of eating lunch (what they should be doing). While many might think this free 35 minutes is a great opportunity to study for fifth period’s test, food deprivation leads to energy deprivation, impaired focus and poor memory—all factors far more important and necessary for fifth period’s test.

Some believe that we can always make up the sleep we lose or the meals we skip, but we cannot make up the questions we miss on a test. While this is true, it’s important to take into account the long-term effects of both that determine which, health or grades, we need to prioritize one over the other. A lack of sleep can lead to permanent memory loss and stress-related conditions, such as depression and anxiety, while an unhealthy diet leads to various heart problems, diabetes and obesity.

Grades are not everything. Sure, good grades pave the way to better opportunities and an increased chance of success in the future, but there are many alternatives other than undermining one’s health. These include building self-confidence and staying true to oneself, that serve the same purpose. In fact, many successful people like Steve Jobs and Michael Dell, both college dropouts, did not earn top grades but made those alternatives work instead. Here’s where health comes into play. Without leading a healthy lifestyle beforehand, how would these opportunities and successes work out? They won’t.

Think about it this way. In 10 years time, no one will care what grades you got. No, this doesn’t mean “don’t study” or “don’t try.” This means work hard and do your best, but not to the point in which your health becomes a second priority.  

The same goes for mental health; without mental well-being, how would you be able to do well in anything, let alone school itself? Being in a constant state of anxiety, stress and depression is not fun, and it surely is a lot less enjoyable than having a couple of unsatisfactory grades here and there. To say that these states of mind disturb one’s learning process in school is an understatement. They not only raise a health concern but also interfere with overall academic performance and can even worsen grades along the way.

Yes, it is debatable whether or not a couple more hours of sleep is worth losing that letter A grade, but it is evident that nothing should be valued over health. A good health is the basic foundation of what we do; if it is destroyed, everything that follows including grades will become destroyed soon enough. So the next time you are having an inner battle with yourself, to stay up studying or go to bed, be mindful of health’s critical role in our lives and how overcommitting ourselves to academics has the capability to undermine that role.

By Olivia Chiang, Online manager
Photo by Austin Lam