Good grades. Good grades. Good grades. We all know this is very important to be successful in this society. Good grades in high school means good college. Good grades in college means good graduate school or good job. Good job means money and hopefully a better life. This is the generalization that gets passed down generation to generation. How accurate is this generalization, and what do grades really mean? This article will discuss why grades are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to success and being a good person.
First, it is important to note that for most students. good grades in high school has a much different meaning than good grades in college. The meaning of these grades is dependent on whether these grades are a good measurement of knowledge and work ethic. The difficulty of the institution and rigor of coursework should also be taken into account. Typically, students find that their high school was not a good preparation for the rigor of college. This was definitely true for me, and I will use my situation to illustrate why grades are not as important as society makes it out to be.
I went to a very underperforming large public high school. This is true for the majority of students in this nation, hence the characteristics of inclusivity: “large” and “public.” The unfortunate truth is that the American public education system is failing. American higher education is not the most stable as well. My grades in high school definitely did not prepare me for the rigor of Notre Dame, which discredits my high school GPA. I graduated in the top 5 rank of my high school, but I consider my grades to be meaningless. Take a moment to reflect on your high school experience. Did you struggle? Many students did struggle, but is it because of the rigor of the coursework or something silly like procrastination? Many students do struggle with the rigor, and it is usually these people who are the most successful. Student A has a 4.0 GPA and student B has a 3.0 – who is a better student? It is foolish and shallow to say Student A is a better student solely based on this number. Student A may be taking classes that do not challenge him, hence is perfect GPA. Student B may be taking extremely difficult classes, and his ability to still pull off a good GPA is definitely more impressive than Student A’s efforts. GPA is just a number, what it means is dependent on many other factors.
Why even pursue a good GPA? As I go on with my college experience, I begin to value GPA less and less. I am not trying to say that GPA is not important? What do grades represent? They represent knowledge and work ethic. These grades are merely a measurement, a numerical representation of things that cannot really be defined by a number. A better representation of knowledge and work ethic is the knowledge and work ethic itself! Moral of this article is: pursuing knowledge and hoping that it reflects in your GPA is much different than pursuing a GPA and hoping that it reflects your knowledge. The latter is much shallower, and the former is the more humane option. Trying to improve yourself is much more important than trying to improving your grades.
Who is the better person: Student A, who sits in the library all day just to improve his grades, or Student B, who does not have the highest grades because he spends his time serving others and having personal interactions with others. Everyone has a different purpose for education. I personally see my education as a preparation for service to others. With this purpose, grades do not really mean much to me. Interacting with people and having social skills is much more important than just a number. Of course knowledge is still very important, but I pursue knowledge so that I can use it to serve others – I do not pursue knowledge to get a good GPA. Putting emphasis on numbers over personality is dehumanizing.