Grades Matter…but Chill Out Guys

A good GPA will get students a lot of scholarship money for college or university


Colleges give out thousands of dollars for good grades and ACT scores.

Caroline Christensen, Content Manager

There are two different types of high school students. The first is stressed out of their mind studying for exams, and stays up until one in the morning; crying into their textbooks. The other could not care less about the D on their biology test, or their failing grade in language arts.

Working for a letter grade can seem either pointless or extremely stressful at times, but whether you love grades or hate them, they still matter-in moderation.

There is no way around it, students who aspire to attend college or university need to get A’s and B’s. Ultimately, they will receive much more money than students who get C’s, D’s, and F’s and they will have a better chance of getting accepted into the school of their choice. Do not get me wrong, grades certainly do not determine a person’s value and are a pretty arbitrary way of measuring someone’s knowledge. However, in order to beat the system, you have to play the system.

I learned how to play the game of school very well. I got A’s in all my classes, and could not care less about the content I was learning; all I wanted was the grade at the end of the semester. Eventually, this mindset took a toll on my health, as I could not sleep well at night, and my anxiety got progressively worse. Gradually, I learned to look at grades in a different perspective. Sure they were still important, but in the end I forgot about the grade I got first semester biology. Time gives perspective on the life or death connotation some students put on their grades.

The bright side is, caring about my grades eventually paid off. Literally. Good grades opened up more opportunities for my post secondary education, and help significantly with lowering my student debt. I received $12,000 from my school for having a good GPA and ACT scores. That money took a significant chunk out of my future student debt, and allowed me to put money towards travel abroad programs and textbooks. But I do regret stressing so much about grades, because I can still get an A and not make myself sick over it.

However, there are some positives to stressing about grades. Students who work hard for a GPA usually form motivated, and dedicated habits. Many students, like Jacque Heggen ’21, stress about getting the perfect GPA for college. “I’m paying for college all by myself,” Heggen said, “My grades and my GPA are what I am riding on. I’m getting stressed out just thinking about getting a C. I’m hanging in there dude. I do what I have to do…so, as long as I have an A, I will come in and retake until I have an A. Part of it is the expectation. I’ve got to get the A.”

Science teacher Sara Howe often sees the measures students go to in order to get an A. “So there’s stressing about grades because it’s valid and you don’t think it reflects your learning,” Howe said. “And then there is grade grubbing. And that’s where you’re like, ‘oh, I have to get a good grade to get into college’ and that’s fine, but you don’t know it at an A level, you know it at a B level. If you really want to be at an A level because it is important for college, then you need to learn at that level.”

The best strategy to preserve mental health, but also get a good GPA, is to find balance. Although it may seem daunting, by finding a healthy balance, grades are not as horrible as students, parents, and teachers make them out to be. “You need to put in the time and the effort,” Howe said. “For some people, it takes a lot more effort. And at some point, you have to decide, is that time and effort going to be worth it? Is having an A in this class more important than my health, than my well being, enjoying my friends. Then you have those kids where their learning is at a C, but it really should be at an A, in which case they should be able to show it is at the A level without a lot of effort. If you flip it to not think about it as grades and instead think about it as learning, it changes the conversation.”