The Dangers of “Good Enough”: How Just Getting By Will Hurt You in the Long Run

There's a danger of the good enough mentality

Flickr user Ludwig

There is a danger to the good enough mentality of doing the minimum amount of work to get by. Whether it’s at your job, at home, or at school, the minimum amount of effort will only hurt you in the long run. Putting forth extra effort is how doors open for us later on in life. It is how we continue to grow as people. It is how we learn new skills that benefit us.

High school is useful.

It might not seem as though that high school sophomore science lab write-up is going to be useful to you in college. After all, you’re going to go for a history degree, or a math degree, or an art degree. Or maybe you are going for a science degree. The point is, learning how to write a lab write-up gives you several skills. It teaches you how to write something that comes directly from your observations in an extremely structured way. It teaches you how to be precise about those observations. Not only that but if you know how to write a lab report, you know how to read one for information.

Understanding is important.

This is a huge benefit because it can help you be a well-informed consumer of information later in life. By understanding how research is conducted and written, you have an advantage when new research in your field is released. Or you can actually find information in a study that might not apply to your field but is interesting to you. Of course, that is just one type of example. The same can be said of statistics, basic math skills, literary criticism, etc. The reason most colleges have General Education programs is that well-rounded students create well-rounded citizens who can hopefully apply skills to their lives.

Put in some effort!

And that is the main point of putting in the effort. Just going good enough does not promote learning or skills. It does exactly what you want it to do – it merely gets you by. But what happens when that concept comes up again? When – and how – are you going to relearn what you should know? Those theories and skills you were meant to learn will come back to haunt you in college, so it is vital to improving them early so they are up to the level professors will expect.

Or maybe you are one of those students where school has come easy to you all your life. Maybe you are naturally good at remembering facts for tests, and so you’ve never had to spend much time doing homework or studying. Good enough, right? That attitude doesn’t fly in college. If you do not know how to make yourself buckle down and work hard, you will not see grades that you are used to or that you want. So make yourself re-read that high school literature paper twice. Read it out loud to hear any mistakes or awkward phrases. Improve your understanding of writing and language so that you may communicate your ideas even more clearly.

Review, review, review.

Go over your tests at the end rather than assuming you got the answers correct. Sometimes an answer will come to you after you’ve gone through the entire test. If you got answers wrong, talk to your teacher. If you can learn the why of things, it becomes easier to apply concepts later on. Show interest in your education, and you will enhance your knowledge base.

In addition to all of this, working hard in high school means you likely have more connections. Teachers reward hard-working students with letters of recommendation, which sometimes you need in order to get into a university. Showing your dedication to studies proves you are reliable. Such an example would be retaking the ACT or SAT. It is almost a guarantee that you will score higher the second time you take a test than the first time. So if your standardized test score was adequate to get into a few universities or colleges, don’t stop there. Push yourself to reach farther for a higher score, as it may be what leads to schools you’ve been accepted into to offer more financial aid.

Do more.

Learn how to go above and beyond the minimum amount of coursework. Do extra credit. Do those extra projects and research. Again, this shows dedication. In addition to that, it prepares you for opportunities in college. Extra credit is very much like doing research with a professor or creating a senior/honors thesis. These things look good to future employers, and the ability to go above and beyond what is expected of you will prove your resilience and dedication.


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