Opinion: Don’t share your grades

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Photo Illustration: Kruti Vora

For many students at WHS, academic focus has gone too far. Is it time to scale back our obsession with grades?

“What did you get? Let me guess, 95?”
“How did you do so well?”
“I can’t believe it. I studied for 5 hours, and you still did better!”

After tests are handed back, students immediately swarm together and countless whispers are exchanged. This has become such an issue that many teachers have started to hand tests out at the end of class so there is no time to discuss grades. However, the problem doesn’t start or end in the classroom. Even before handing the tests back, teachers are being hounded to upload the results on Engrade. After these grades are released, the names of students who got perfect scores spread around the school.

Students make a big deal of their grades. The emphasis on grades begins in elementary school, and escalates to outright paranoia in high school. Students at WHS have this idea that they need straight A’s if they want to get into their dream colleges. Students fret over an A- or B+ instead of focusing on living their lives to the fullest.

People usually share their grades because they feel the need to compare themselves to others. Many students see grades as a way to show intellectual superiority, but intelligence doesn’t always equate to good grades. Grades are meant to show how well a student knows a topic, yet they are not always accurate. There are many factors that play into a student’s academic performance, such as the amount of sleep he or she is getting, how stressed out the student is and his or her ability to memorize.

Students frequently do not get the proper amount of sleep, oftentimes due to staying up late to finish schoolwork and study for tests. In turn, students have a much shorter attention span when they are tired the next day. This lack of focus can really affect a student’s academic performance. If a student is lacking sleep and has to take a test, then he or she will likely not perform as well because of the inability to think clearly. Also, sometimes students will not arrive to class on time due to oversleeping. Some teachers are less understanding of this and do not let them make up the time they missed, giving students a shorter testing time and most likely a lower grade.

The pressure to do well in school usually causes a lot of stress, which ends up making grades worse in the end. Every student reacts to stress differently. Some students take naps, some snack on “comfort food” and some procrastinate. Many of these responses make the student even more stressed. After taking a nap or procrastinating, students are left with the same amount of work to do in a shorter time period. This will lead to even more stress, and a vicious cycle can start.

Some classes are based purely off of memorization. If a student has a great memory, they will probably get a high grade. If a student has less ability to memorize, they will most likely get a lower grade in those classes. Does that mean the first student is smarter than the second student? No, it just means he or she has a better memory.

Usually teachers are understanding if a student is in mourning. However, this empathy will only last a certain amount of time. After a week, teachers will force students to take tests. What if a student lost one of his or her parents? The grief may not go away in just one week. In extenuating circumstances like these, students’ grades unfairly suffer.

Injuries can take a toll, too. Some students get injured from their extracurricular activities. My friend once got a concussion from dance, and her teacher told her to take a test anyway. The effects from a serious concussion like this might last a long time, and this can affect a student’s long term testing ability. I know some students who’ve seen a serious drop in their grades because of concussions.

While some might find sharing grades beneficial, others find it harmful. When students are pleased with a grade they receive, they will often shout out the score or ask others what they got just to have the opportunity to crow about their own grades. Sometimes students will get offended and make snide remarks. This can sometimes lead to arguments and broken friendships.

I used to be best friends with a boy I had known since first grade, but now I hardly talk to him. We would constantly compete by comparing MCAS scores and, once we entered middle school, grades. We would fight over who was smarter, and we soon drifted apart.

When students overhear a classmate’s score, they might feel stupid for getting a lower grade. Although this may motivate some students to try harder, it can also make them sad.

Here are few tips that you can try to follow:

Stop comparing your grades to someone else’s. It’s okay to worry about grades, but don’t worry to such an extent that it affects how you view yourself and others. Why worry about one B+? If we could all stop making a huge fuss over these small issues, life would be that much more enjoyable.

Don’t get mad if someone refuses to tell you his or her grade — he or she isn’t obligated to tell you. Further, don’t get mad if someone gets a higher grade than you. You should be improving yourself because you want to improve, not just to be better than those around you.

Rather than focusing on grades, focus on what you learn. We go to school to learn, to explore our own personal interests. Classes are designed for critical thinking and problem solving. You learn something important in each of your classes. They can be academic, athletic or artistic, and they all have something to offer. Cherish these opportunities to learn! Explore each of your classes, and find your passion.

Your grades do not represent your self-worth. Instead of wasting your time wallowing in your own pity, move on and prioritize your life. Grades should not be the most important thing in your life. Why freak out about one bad grade when you can spend time with the people you love? Go walk your dog, or watch a movie. Do something you want to do. Be productive instead of crying over a B+. After all, grades are merely letters written on a page.

8 Comments

  • If grades were merely "letters written on a page," then why would I stay up till 3 am studying? huh?

  • i wouldn't say grades are "merely letters written on a page"…i feel like that trivializes the issue. whether or not they should represent one's self-worth, they are what matters if you're trying to get into college. often times, students DO need straight As to get into their dream college so an A- vs. a B+ actually does matter.
    does it matter that better grades might reflect a better memory rather than a higher intelligence level? students compare to prove their success, not necessarily to prove their inherent intelligence; sometimes they brag about how hard the work/study.
    i think that rather than comparing grades to feel intellectually superior, many students simply want to gauge where they are in relation to their peers. maybe if they did badly, they can find out that others did too and understand that it was a hard test.
    i think as long as people aren't sharing grades just to brag, it's generally okay. people should definitely feel justified in refusing to share their grades, but i don't think it's so ridiculous that students care about them a lot, like this article seems to suggest.

    • I don't know about you, but the way we are tested in school doesn't always reflect my understanding of a subject. It doesn't feel good to study for what seems like forever, and get a comparatively bad score to my peers. I don't ask to know how they're doing- I don't want to know, I want to focus on how I'm doing and how I can improve based on the mistakes I made, but I get to know anyway because everyone is so anxious to figure out how everyone else did. I'm not going to tell you my grade, and I don't want you to tell me yours- this isn't a competition! We're here to learn, not to memorize, spit out, and forget as soon as midterms or finals are over. You comment that Thomas is trivializing the issue- but are you getting sucked into the very issue he is talking about?

  • some what confusing article. It starts out about comparing grades then has a large section about different factors that affect a grade. It could have been two different articles.

  • avatar Ana-Libby Eds

    I think the fundamental assumption in this article (that we use grades to compare ourselves to others) is wrong. We use grades to get into college. Lets get that straight. Sure, grades aren't a very good measurement of intelligence (although there is generally a consistent trend), but neither is the admissions process.

  • avatar #1 parent

    Hurricane San-D? Why not Hurricane San-A????!?!?!?!?!

  • i love your article so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar I'm not normal

    I know I'm supposed to get good grades and all, but lets face it, enjoy life, and don't focus on grades or you will turn into a memorizing robot of society.

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