Opinion: Don’t share your grades

Thomas Chan

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.