How important are grades to you?

an article for Meld Magazine. Thanks to Karen Poh for editing it! :)

THE first time I discovered grades ruled my life was when I was preparing my high school graduation speech.

I came across American student Erica Goldson’s words, which struck a deep chord in me. She said in her valedictorian speech:

“I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it.”

We sometimes forget that education is about learning. It becomes apparent now as I enter university, that I used to study for the sake of studying, for the sake of getting good grades.

Even now, it sometimes still feels like a frantic race, as people around you strive for that prize called high distinction for every subject. There’s nothing wrong about excelling in our studies of course. In fact, we ought to do our best to get good marks – but how good is good enough?

My elder sister is in her final year of medical school at Melbourne University. She is at once excited, anxious and scared. She is uncertain about her chances of getting a job here in Australia as an international student, and there are not enough training places for everyone. She resents the fact that friends will have to compete against each other to get the top marks and top jobs.

For me, I’ve long given up trying to “compete” with my peers, especially local students for whom English is their first language. If you’ve ever sat in on an arts tutorial you would know how difficult it is to get a word in, let alone be heard. It takes courage, lots of it.

At other times it is easy to forget the joy of learning when you are faced with a seemingly never ending stream of assignments, tests, and exams. It is tempting to measure your success based on your grades. If I do well, I will be happy. If I score badly, I will feel miserable for the next few days, especially when you have a straight H1 student sitting by your side.

Of course, not every student thinks like me. I know a friend who holds a very different attitude towards university life.

“Pass is enough,” he tells me.

“But more than that, it is a bonus. For me, grades are important. I always aim to get C at the very minimum. But I never sweat at it too much. Knowledge itself is more important than some written exams.”

I stand convicted.

University was never meant to be a pressure cooker. We come to learn new things, not just for the getting of good grades or jobs. More than that, we learn because we are passionate about what we are studying. It’s all about seeing the bigger picture. Good grades aren’t the guarantee for success in life.

I watched a Bollywood movie called 3 Idiots last night, and there’s a quote that I want to leave you with:

“Most of us went to college just for a degree. No degree meant no plum job, no pretty wife, no credit card, no social status. But none of this mattered to him, he was in college for the joy of learning, he never cared if he was first or last.”

Marcella Purnama is a second-year psychology and media and communications major at Melbourne University.

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155 thoughts on “How important are grades to you?

  1. Ooh, good post. I got fantastic grades in school, but gave up on any kind of social life to get them. I also worried about them so much that I had more or less constant stomach issues. Looking back, I kind of wish I had just let myself get Bs.

  2. Thanks a lot! :)) yeah, me too, fantastic grades, but somehow kind of ‘neglecting’ other parts of my life… somehow it’s hard to break the ideation of education…

  3. this is a very good post of you,I like this. But as someone which you may call lost, I have been trapped on this Idea for many years, and I can’t never go. which do you mean by live and grade?

  4. laurensmarque says:

    Do we want grades, a true education, or whatever else we want to do with life? It’s unfortunate that we have to choose between these, isn’t it? To me, the degree to which grades are important depends on what they assess. If they assess how well we can spit back facts, they are meaningless. If they assess how much we are thinking, they are extremely meaningful. This difference largely depends on the culture of the particular school as well as the individual professor — I have witnessed both styles and lots of mixes of the two. The answer isn’t to stop caring about our performance in school. The answer is to challenge everyone around us, whether we are the teacher, the student, or another interested party, to actually think about and care about what we are studying. And if we don’t care about it, we should figure out what the problem is and solve it, or else stop pretending to care (going for the grade).

  5. Joe Labriola says:

    It’s unfortunate how formalized so much education is. It should be about actually learning something useful, but so much of schooling, especially college is really about getting that paper so that you can get in the door somewhere for a job. All that you can do is to roll with it and try actually learning as much as you can when you can.

  6. Christina says:

    I had a professor last semester who told me not to “over-achieve” on the final project because I was already extremely busy with other things. I left his office confused because I don’t know how to get an ‘A’ without over-achieving.

    He told me that the time invested in making a good project “perfect” wasn’t worth the cost of it, which was a life outside of academia.

  7. We need grades in case of comparisions or motivations. But it becomes a nigtmare when we make it as guides or directions.

    Nice article any way.

  8. I recently graduated from a diploma course (design) that didn’t require its students to take examinations. The course wasn’t perfect, but I learned so much more about work and life than I could ever have if I had been buried behind books that barely interest me. Unfortunately, once my peers learned that there were no tests or exams in my course of study, they started taking it a lot less seriously. It just goes to show that examinations and grades have become the very definition of learning and education these days. Thank you for this wonderfully-written post; here’s to hoping the world gets the message.

  9. It’s an amazing post for me. I have seen and faced that I had been the best student in the university where I had studied years ago. And now, guess what? I am working as a lecturer. The ambition to achieve the status is okay for some reasons; however, when someone is “over-achieving” as Christina said, that would be a wrong idea. We just have our social life. That’s why I always told to my students that they would not be the best students if they cannot share what they have understood to their friends. After I reflect to these things, grades are just symbol.

    For some reasons, grades are important for the life of the students in the future. As you said, “looking for jobs”. The question is “in what way they achieve the grades? did they break their friendship just because of grades?”

    My suggestion is “keep moving to reach the best grades but never even be a maniac or self-prestige person just because of grades”. Life is just more than that.

    Great post, Marcella Purnama! ^_^

  10. I’m not grade-conscious either when I was in university. But that was my greatest mistake. My brother-in-law told me that I needed to have high grades in order to get a good job after college (because here in the Philippines, it’s hard to get employed even if you’re a fresh grad). I said, “No i’m not gonna be one of them who lines up at job fairs looking for jobs.” So it was okay for me to have passing grades only. It seemed like I didn’t study hard, but I passed all my subjects. Anyway, come application for medical schools, BANG! I wasn’t accepted to my first two choices! That was really hard for me, considering I was an alumna of one of them. So then, now that I’m an incoming freshman at med school, I think I should study harder and have high grades so that at least for my internship and residency, I would be accepted to the top hospitals here in my country. :) Really hope I can do it!

  11. Good post. I’m glad you posted this now, as I’m heading into University and I want to make sure I get some life experience out of it instead of just good grades.
    Unfortunately at my high school we had “gifted” opportunities, and I was one of them. The gifted students were those who didn’t need to study to ace college-course level classes. But basically this means that none of us know how to study, and we didn’t really learn anything from high school either. We got broad concepts but we didn’t memorize things because they passed through one side of our brains to the other.
    I need to learn how to study. …Any tips?

  12. Gemma says:

    Very inspirational. I guess it’s sort of typical when you’re brought up by strict parents, to begin believing grades are so-so important, but I was a rebellious child.
    Now I’m beginning to believe grades are everything. My course does not have exams, but coursework- to have a good mark means to have good work to show.

    I will definitely take this into consideration.

  13. I found this ‘grade’ stuff is taking control in my country, at any level of education.
    Now a college student, I found that some students think that grades and exam are just a different form of problem, and need to be solved soon.
    It’s clearly seen on how they face the exam. They study all night long on everything they didn’t learn in the class do to seriousness-lacking. Whether they pass the exam or not, most will forget what they’ve studied right after the exam. The all-night study are thrown away just in order to get a grade so they can pass.

    IMO it’s like Laurens said.
    If in the end you’re just re-write the book, the grades are useless. If it shows how much you really understand the knowledge, the grade is important to show how you’ve accomplished your need to understand.

    Correct me if I’m wrong. It’s just an opinion based on what I see everyday.
    But anyway, nice post. Congratulation for the freshly pressed.

  14. Great post. I got ok grades in school and was surprised to learn I graduated from college with an 83% average. A feat for me, seeing I never really studied. (which is not a good thing.) COngrats on Freshly Pressed.

  15. Guess it is just a lot of people were taught to be competitive. Lots of children were just happy to get that “participant” tag, but the parents always expect more and more and being “only” a participant is kind of… embarrassing? also in Indonesia, lol.

    Nice post, keep it up =)

  16. Thank you very much for this post. It is really difficult to blow out the idea of getting a good grade of your mind. I used to get highest GPA at high school. when i enter into the university, I find it tiring to compete with each other. though i still get good mark, I am not at the top as I was at high school. i try to balance my time for other extracurricular activities or part-time jobs. Sometimes, this idea helps consoling me much. However, when seeing friends get high distinction, I can’t help trying, trying more and more to keep up with them. it is somehow a vicious circle.

  17. mariosplash says:

    P.S.

    Developed countries base happiness on material things.
    Developing countries -like Africa- base their happiness on education. For all we know, they also have a higher hope than us urbanized people do. They are more connected to life than to computers.

  18. hafsakhwaja says:

    To me, grades are important, but they are not the first and last thing on my mind. I stud for my own satisfaction and I study because I like to study. As a result, I usually get A’s and sometimes even A+ ‘s.
    Wonderful Post! Loved it! :)

  19. Great post! In am entire school career I was obsessed with getting top marks. It felt good when I did, and not so good when I didn’t. Now however I wonder if it really mattered that much…(b/c you are sure made to feel that you entire life depends on your grades when in school)!

  20. Great post! For my entire school career I was obsessed with getting top marks. It felt good when I did, and not so good when I didn’t. Now however, I wonder if it really mattered that much…(b/c you are sure made to feel that you entire life depends on your grades when in school)!

  21. I got average grades and it neither helped nor hindered. I agree about developed countries and material things causing people to be unhappy if they don’t have the latest. I’m not sure someone in an undeveloped countries living in squalor is happy though. It’s just a thought

  22. Thank you for this post. It’s very enlightening. And by the way, I love the 3 Idiots! It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time! ^_^

  23. This is such an important topic — learning how to be passionate about learning is critical! Learning for the sake of learning — not so critical…

    I was the 4.0 high school student, too. Even got a 4.0 in my master’s curriculum. But the experiences were so different — in high school, I was compelled and expected to succeed. In college, I LONGED to learn, and the success was a byproduct.

    Thanks for this post!

  24. I was always busy checking out on pets and animals as they seem to rule my life, but since I graduated from elementary, uhmmm wait where was I? Oh yah , I’m still a couch potato who loves animals and I never seem to stop but I realized that grades are very important and GOD too.

  25. Eargazzm says:

    I used to be a grade grubber and thankfully now I’m learning to not be as this. Coz I learned my lesson the ahrd and painful way.

  26. Rodney Robbins says:

    I couldn’t agree more Marcella. I was a straight A student in college, despite, or maybe because of, some harsh physical limits. At the same time, I always felt I was getting ripped off. The work was so painfully hard and the payoff was so pitifully hollow. I decided that most of what I learned in school, I could just as well have learned reading a good book. You can’t learn everything in a book, but you can sure learn a LOT and for a lot less money, time, pain and bother compared to university. Nothing wrong with going to college. I went–and spend the last 15 years paying for it–and learned a lot. It’s just not the ONLY way to learn. As a response to the expense of college, and to promote reading as an alternative to college for some people, I started a website called Reader’s University. You are welcome to stop by and maybe recommend a good book. Keep the thoughtful articles coming.

  27. Grades are just one way to measure what you know in school but then again not everything is taught in school. Students who graduate with high grades in school don’t necessarily land on the best jobs and have the best family life.

    Like in learning, what matters most is your commitment for life-long learning and personal growth that will help you have best and lasting career and marriage. Success always come with a price and oftentimes at such a high cost.

    Learning to practice these virtues while in school will prepare you for bigger challenges ahead in REAL LIFE! :)

  28. Great post! And conrgatulations for being freshly pressed ;)
    It’s so funny, because I was in the middle of your post when I thought “oh, I’m going to tell her about the movie 3 idiots”. Well, I love that movie, and I also love the message it leaves. Another quote from it I really like (Rancho said it) is: “Chase excellence and success will follow”. I wrote a review about it some months ago: http://fictionworms.wordpress.com/movies/f-g-h-i-j/i/3-idiots/
    Xoxo! Guadi.

  29. just received my grades… they are not bad but i’m not giving that much importance to them. i just want to access the next level and learn more. the passing grade i think is 65% not sure but i estimated that if i got an average of 75% i’d be happy and so far my grade are over that so… :D i’m studying photography… because i’m working full time and studying at the same time, like other of my classmates, i can’t possibly give the same amount of effort and research on my work as other people in my class who don’t work and have all the time to perfect their craft would…
    good grades, for equivalent degree, from the employer point of view, may weight out a little more when they will have to decide between 2 candidates but if they are a little open minded and give the chance to both in interview, this disadvantage can be counter attack with good interview. if you are reachable and put your personality first, you may get the job! paper wise i’ve never been the best candidate. it has always been hard for me to get an interview but i’ve never failed any interview and been recruited every time. employers also want people with good personality too. :) of course there ARE extraterrestrials who can do it all, have excellent grades and are so cool on top of that! grrr.. annoying! lol
    we, unfortunately, live in a society that generally think the person with higher grades will be more effective on the job. i know for a fact that it’s not true. at my last job, there was this guy who didn’t even go to college but was able to build a complete LAN and this guy was even approached by kids who had their diploma in engineering but were stuck with issues this guy could solve in 5 minutes…
    grades just means your brain has been able to assimilate the data you have been fed with for months and been able to regurgitate at the right time the info asked. if you have an excellent memory then you will probably have excellent grades. i’m, personally, more attached to the meaning of what i’m doing, the process and the understanding behind it…
    i’d say grades and social life experience are equally important! :) there is so much more to learn from life anyways and you can’t find it in books!
    meet new people from everywhere, travel and have fun!!! :D

  30. Chasing Neptune says:

    I can really relate to this post. I try to maintain a balance between grades and my social life, but I know that more often than not my social life is sacrificed in the name of “academic perfection.” Changing that mindset is a lot easier said than done, but I’m going to keep this post in mind next time I start to put too much pressure on myself. :)

  31. I believe that grades show who is both receiving and putting out the information the best, but they have no merit in diagnosing potential, interest, and other factors. Grades are important for school as they do seperate the people who MAY work a little harder or learn material easier, but getting a good education has NOTHING to do with the grades of your report card. It’s about your individual learning style and whether or not a teacher can personally teach to that style.

  32. Education is about learning, yes. But how much of learning actually happens in schools and universities? Most of the life’s important lessons are learnt outside the institutions, and sometimes on our own.

    Also, having studied in India for 15 years, I feel like one among the thousand other engineers-in-the-making stuck in a rat race. The education system forces us to focus on grades than learning. Our grades may not be significant 10 years down the line, but are important for the “next step” of our life. It is sad that young children are being trained to compete with their peers right from the beginning. What happens in school will happen in universities and later on at work places too.

  33. I totally agree. My roomate is a straight A, pre-med student and hates his life. He doesn’t even want to be a doctor. He is just looking forward to retire to a farm and I feel bad for him because he is sacrificing 30 years of his life.

  34. Rahul Vittal says:

    Ah, Grades. Alas, all the effort going into the education system will remain a complete waste as long as we stick to this approach. Why because all that we are doing is anything but educating the kids. We teach only as to how to survive in a rat race. Win at all costs seems to be the motto in all institution.
    My school teacher used to say, the schools and colleges will teach you as to how to survive in dog-eat-dog environment. They will not be able to teach you as to how you will survive in life, how you will treat your family, how will help the people in need, how you can make a positive difference to some one’s life, none of that.

    What we need is and I quote Swami Vivekananda here ” Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.”

  35. Ms. Goldsen spoke out of common teenage ignorance of life.

    I doodled in school and was a barely passable student. I read what I liked and often didn’t do homework. I happened to be able to test pretty well so I coasted through school, neither horrible nor great. To that end, I didn’t do well when I first went into college. I little social life in high school and less initially in college because I was an introvert, not because I was dedicated to school. I hated school… public school that is.

    Had I realized what I needed to do and needed for my life, I would not have wasted my high school years lazing about, doing the least bit possible to pass. Instead I spun my tires through my twenties because I had not the sense when I was a teenager to buckle down and apply myself. I saw my grades, but they didn’t spur me. I just didn’t care. I didn’t think that grades were worthless either.

    Oh, and I produced plenty of artwork and developed my talent and read what I liked and learned what I liked, but that did nothing for me. Instead I worked menial, low paying jobs through much of my teens and twenties. Whereas had I applied myself early on, who knows.

    As for grades, they are based upon standards. While on one hand they may seem arbitrary and useless, on another hand they merely show what you missed and need to learn more about.

    For some fields and careers, great grades don’t matter. But how many of us would want to have a doctor who did just enough to pass?

    There is a lot about public education that leaves to be desired and reformed, but grades and grading are a good thing. Even in pass/fail, there are gradations of worst to best irrespective of a percentile or letter we assign.

    The older I get, the more I realize just how dumb I was as a teen and twenty-something, especially my early twenties. Human brains continue to develop until around age 25. That means that while many teens and twenty-somethings may know a lot and often be correct, there’s a strong possibility that their lack of life experiences and growing brain physiology mean that they don’t know diddly. I twenty something person or a teenager trying to tell me something about life and education, and I’ll take that information with a very hugh grain of salt.

  36. It’s odd. Grades are meant as a tool to measure learning. It is one component to one equation for academic success. There’s a consistent percentage of kids who earn A’s no matter what subject or school environment. There’s an inverse proportion of kids who earn A’s because they truly love learning. It seems more balance between the two numbers, and more students achieve this balance at the university level of learning. No one walks around with their report cards pinned to their pockets, but the discipline learned, the self-confidence portrayed, and hopefully, the discovery of your passion are the by-products of every A and B slaved for in every class. Great post and congratulations on FP!

  37. These are some interesting thoughts. In the beginning, grades meant a lot to me. They were what I based my entire school career, and even happiness at times on. But now, I realize they’re really not that important. They should be used to gauge whether you’re putting in your all, your effort, your sweat and tears – but if you’ve given it everything and still get a bad grade, that’s not your fault. If you truly did your best – that’s what counts.

    Now, our school system is based on grades, performing and test results.

  38. I am a mom. My son is in kindergarten. His grades are very important to me. Luckily he is doing really well. The elementary school he goes to does not use A,B & C grades. I look forward to when he will be in middle school so that I can get a traditional report card for him.

  39. Loved this post… We posted something similar the other day…

    Knowledge should be considered more important than the grades which were supposed to represent it.

  40. I’m sitting here stressing out about my finals, and I just found you’re post. I feel just the same exact way. It is so hard to not get caught up in the whirlwinds of being the best, and the competitiveness that accompanies institutes of higher learning.
    Thank you!

  41. Fascinating range of responses!

    My college transcript is not impressive at all — and has totally demotivated me from ever considering grad school where those 30-yr-old numbers might still mean something, and not the two non-fiction books I’ve produced, nor my awards or many cool jobs….

    If you want to attend grad or professional school, you better grind it out and get those grades. Mine were lousy because I was already writing, and being paid for it, as an undergrad. The checks paid me and sped and solidified my career path and success. The grades, by then, meant almost nothing to me — or my many editors.

    If you know your career path, do whatever is necessary to acquire the skills you need, but do not think that good grades translate to career success in the “real world” — they might only prove you are a good student, but lack initiative and self-motivation.

  42. At university I took Philosophy. People told me it was a useless degree. Maybe they were right because you can’t make a career out of it, its not helpful hands-on and its not of any value from where I am. But I took the subject nevertheless. And today, I’m proud I did so because I learnt some of the most valuable life lessons and the best part was that I enjoyed every bit of it. :)

  43. everyone around me stress about good grade…cause they want to reach some sort of requirement for their next step in life (professional schools)…i think its very important to fulfill those reqs if you really want some thing so badly!

  44. Good grades are for getting into college. After that, it’s needless stress. I graduated with highest honors from a big university while a friend of mine squeaked by at his school.

    He knows more people than I do.

    Guess which one of us has a nice house and a company car and which one of us lives in a small apartment while working in an invisible support role.

  45. I’m a high school English teacher in the States and would gladly give up grades tomorrow if the school would let me. Nothing undermines an intrinsic love of learning and a willingness to take risks more than grades. At the same time, the idea of a student just doing the assignments he or she wants scares me. Many students have this habit of thinking they know exactly what will be valuable to them in the future and–surprise!–it ‘s often what seems especially challenging, time-consuming, and laborious right now. Truth is, I’m not a soothsayer and don’t know what’s going to be valuable in the future either, but I’m pretty sure training your mind with academic work is going to make you a better thinker and more self-disciplined worker (which I hope will be valuable in ANY future). School doesn’t have to be torture if you look for the value in it. I hate to believe that my best students are slaves. I hope some of them–or at least a few of them–do the work because they know it’s enriching in some way. The students who take that perspective, oddly enough, often make the best grades. You’re right, too many students just want good marks, but I have to ask–is that a problem with grades or with the perspective that school isn’t worthwhile, some sort of game? Grades encourage people to take a cynical view of education, but grades aren’t the whole problem. By all means, get rid of grades, but foster respect for academic rigor too.

  46. I think it’s all about balance. If getting good grades condemns you to a life of stress and lack of interests, then it’s time to recenter. On the other hand, blowing off grades in order to keep yourself free for the slighest of inclinations of creation that may hit you is going to be a large waste of time. Getting the knowledge and the self-confidence to use that knowledge is the most important thing. Grades only really matter when you’re trying to get into that next level of education. You can retain all the information in the world, but if you graduate high school with D’s, Harvard probably isn’t going to just take your word on it.

  47. Glorife Simon says:

    It’s all about finding a balance. It’s hard when you’re in your teens and just finishing high school and going on to University, but really, it’s about balance. Do your best, ask the right questions to help you understand, don’t be afraid to speak your mind, and learn to relax a little bit. So what IF you got an 75% on your math final because you didn’t pull an all-nighter the night before? You had so much fun watching the boys varsity basketball team kick the other rival school’s butt!! You won’t remember your final in 10 years, but you’ll remember the victory of the game come the10 yr high school reunion.

    Don’t get the grades to prove to others that you’re “good enough”, get the grades to prove to yourself to tried hard enough and had fun doing it.

  48. This is so true. We should aim for learning instead of for grades. This past year in college, I was always concerned about whether I knew it subjects well enough, so I could keep my 4.0. I suspect I would have gotten good grades more easily had I just focused on my love of the subject. On the other hand, my roommate just did the assignments the laid-back way she did everything. We’ve got the same GPA, and she took more classes. I also suspect she enjoyed it more.
    However, a lot of people have gone beyond even learning to get the grade, and are trying to get the grade without learning. My mother is a college chemistry teacher, and I don’t know how many people have asked her to bump up their grades *after* the curve.

  49. This is so true. Many people just focus on the grades not the knowledge. I am one of them, and I will now try to take your post to heart.

    Thanks!

  50. Interesting post, and some interesting responses too.

    IMO, the crucial variable to grasp is that grades are important only inasmuch as they act as a proxy for potential future life happiness. In themselves, they’re meaningless letters. Their worth is solely in the interpretation, and they will only be interpreted in that manner under certain life circumstances.

    The catch, of course, is that it is difficult to know ahead of time what path your life will follow.

    If you KNEW you would become a world-class artist and liked that idea, your Chemistry grade would be irrelevant. But if you KNEW you would become a world-class chemistry researcher, and liked THAT idea, then the grade becomes important, as it can influence your life path in that direction (better school, better university, better initial job, whatever).

    Since you cannot know in advance what path your life will take (unless you have a very firm and practical preference), it’s wise to do as well as you can in as many fields as possible, provided it doesn’t detract from your overall happiness.

    The catch in this new case is that it is very difficult to accurately weigh up/judge impact on overall happiness. That requires wisdom and experience, both attributes that tend to accrue (hopefully!) over life… long after grades have been done and dusted with! :)

    All I can say is that I’m glad it’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with them. ;)

  51. I think this is fascinating and generational. As an educator, I go crazy when I see students with so much potential slack off and appear content to earn B’s when they could have put in a little more effort to earn the A. That is the ethos from where I operate. People know you by the amount of effort you put into something. Do you need to make yourself sick? Absolutely not! But do you just want to be one of the sheep in the herd when you could have been the one herding the sheep? Or maybe you’d prefer to be the one sleeping under the tree while the sheep wander away?

    It is always all about balance. You will find your sense of balance as you move along your way, but don’t stop striving to be the best you can be. There are a bunch of us out there who appreciate excellence.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    xoxoRASJ

  52. I woldn’t say grades vs. knowledge as much as I’d say grades vs. practical skill and experience. I went through college as the one who got an “A” most of the time and who’d have an answer for most any question related to classwork. I had the knowledge I was supposed to have and a bit more. However, I never got involved with the extra curicular or spent quite as much time outside of class and beyond assignments on personal projects. I was too busy trying to get that “A” in my toughest class and wrap my brain around the finer points of what I was learning. I did try to get into the student newspaper early on, but I lacked connections.

  53. Don’t count your years, make your years count!

    What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

    How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? (The second query comes from the late great baseball player Satchel Paige).

    Grades are degrading and “credit” is only good if it is a credit to you, your purpose or doing something positive. It is a tragedy to see so many parents and children oppressed and depressed by grades and the allusion of “failure.” It is truly criminal.

    Grades and credit are unnatural and their axiology rooted in superficiality. I have seen countless parents who were more concerned about their child’s grade and less concerned about whether or not their child learned anything. In all my years of teaching I had only one (1) parent ask what her child learned in class.

    As our honorable First Lady Michelle Obama says “Don’t let those tests defeat you. Don’t let those tests define you.”

  54. I agree with you. I would only qualify that studying for interest alone is not enough, we sometimes have to also make ourselves study that which we have no interest in.

    Aside from that, I’d suggest another quote from the 3 idiots: “Pursue excellence, and success will follow, pants down.”

  55. Thanks for the post, I need it especially at this time of my life. I´ll go to talk seriously about this topic with my family.

  56. This is a very refershing post…eventhough it’s seems there aren’t enough American students who show interest in learning for the sake of learning.

  57. This is a very refershing post…eventhough it seems there aren’t enough American students who show interest in learning for the sake of learning.

  58. I once was a “slave to the grade” perfect A student. Now I am the parent of a compulsive doodler. I rarely understand her, but am doing my best to appreciate her. Thank-you for the post; well-written and much needed.

  59. mj888 says:

    For me, college was a total waste of time and money. I felt that when I was 17 I had enough skills to do well at 95% of the jobs out there. Unless I was going to become a lawyer, engineer, or be in the medical profession, there was no need to go to college. Every job that I have had since college has a 60 to 90 days “learning period” so basically they are saying that my previous 22 years spent in school is useless and we need to train you from scratch. And note that these are not low level service jobs at fast food places. These are very well paid middle management jobs at world famous companies. And not once have I felt that my college education helped me in any way. In my opinion, for most people, if you can add, subtract, multiply and divide and have a good writing and speaking skills, you are more than prepared for life. College has become a cash cow for the people who run the schools. Why is it required that every student take 2-3 years of useless so called Liberal Arts classes? When was the last time you were asked to quote Shakespeare or recite Pluto at your last job interview? Why did I have to pay $6,000 a credit to be force fed something that is totally useless in terms of advancing my career? Look I have nothing against Shakespeare or Pluto. My question is WHY are we all forced to sit through it?

    As a manager I have interviewed hundreds of people for various positions. I can honestly tell you that where they went to school or how they scored in school didn’t matter to me. I was way more interested in that candidate’s experience and how well they can think on their feet or think outside the box to solve simple daily real world problems. So what if they went to Harvard and can quote American History. Despite how it is marketed, College DOES NOT PREPARE YOU for the REAL WORLD. For all the fancy courses out there how come there isn’t one on basic budgeting. We would not be debt if people were taught how to use credit cards, how to maintain a mortgage and how to spend within your means. But instead we have to remember some dates and names from the 17th century. Makes no sense to me!

  60. Everywhere in the world there is a rat race to get to the top:) . And at what cost. The joy of learning, the experience is being sacrificed. As long as exams stifle us, pressurise us to perform – real learning will not take place!

  61. 48colorrainbow says:

    While it’s always nice to receive an A, it doesn’t feel as good if it’s in a course I didn’t enjoy all that much.

  62. I am glad that I did not let GRADES rule my college life though it did during high school. My so called college life had been relaxed because of one thing: there were no extra smarts around to compete with. And that’s the reason why I eventually fell in the pit of incorrigibles – my peers in college. I used to be “in” the crowd of well-behaved, studious students but somehow, I needed those “incorrigibles” to realize that being a student doesn’t only mean aiming for high grades …

    I may have regretted being lax on my academic aspirations; nonetheless, convivial that I met those “incorrigibles” to give a twist in my life. I learned life changing experiences like going outdoors for adventure at the expense of “class hours” … among other stufff. I realized how small my world was had it been only spent to the four corners of every classroom of that university.

  63. So true. Yet, grades are extremely important. In college, I did not perform nearly as well as I did in high school. When I got out of college, I could not find a good job for the life of me. I spent too many wasted years at dead end jobs trying to get out of the bottom of the ladder. I had a college degree from a good school, but none of it mattered. Perhaps if I did better or majored in something more practical, I could have found a good career out of college. As it happened, I chose instead to go to graduate school and restart my career.

    First year in, it was all about grades. I got great grades. Second year, I realized that top grades only matter at top schools. In the end, grades are the only thing employers have to grade us on if we haven’t done any actual real world work. However, once we get out and work for real, grades don’t matter. BUT, being in the top 25% really does help you land that first job and get your foot in the door. Some places require you to be in the top 10% of the top 20% of schools. Those jobs do pay very well, and if that is the type of job you want, then you should go for it. But grades are not the be all end all. Plenty of people have started their own businesses and succeeded in life by all measures of the term. And they didn’t have high honors.

    A is for academia
    B is for business
    D = degree.

  64. bmestdagh says:

    Great perspective in this post. The speaker you quote sounds very insightful. While I agree that grades are not everything and some students are working on their other passions instead of doing homework, I also recognize the value of a liberal arts education. Even if a student is not interested in a class topic or curriculum, and instead, engages in a task or activity of which they have enthralled interest, there is always an experience to expand their learning to such an extent that they may not have anticipated.
    Case in point: I took an introductory criminal justice class my first year at university of which I only picked because it fit in my schedule. I loved it. I ended up changing my major and my future life path because of it.
    While I understand your argument about grades, I do think there is an aspect that challenges students to think in new ways that is apparent in the educational process.

  65. moncube says:

    This is a really good post. I’ve been mulling over what university life meant to me after I worked long hours studying in my high school years. I hope to be able to enter university for the sake of learning, and enjoying learning, instead of competing. Thanks.

  66. mademoisellejosephine says:

    You brought words to my feelings since I got into college. You really did. People from my college class always think of me as this girl who studies a lot for academic competition. I really like the program I’m in right now (BS Food Technology), and competition is just too elementary for me. I’ve been in a Science High School, a specialized high school for geniuses and nerds like me here in the PHL. There were really great minds in that school that I bow down to. I can never level myself to them, since what they got is pure genius and talent, not something from long hours of studying. I’ve been a tough competitor in elementary, but I gave it up when I met those people in high school. Then came college, and being one of the top-notchers in my program, people think I compete. I know in myself I want to learn the science of food. So, thank you so much.

  67. As a Chinese student, I know that grades mean everything. With high grades you can go to the best college. And we judge a student all by their grades. So students in China are all slaves of exams. But often the so-called students with high grades can’t make great achievement after graduation.

  68. You’ve said what almost every college going student all around the world feels at some point of time, so clearly and simply.

  69. I was another student who obsessed about grades in high school and college. While it’s tempting to blame it on my parents, the truth is that rarely stopped to consider by own motivations or priorities. The funny thing is that a few years later, it was all totally irrelevant. Today I don’t even remember what grades I got in either place. I’m sure that most other folks would say the same if you asked them.

  70. I appreciate that you brought up the question with regards to being “good enough” with simply exceling your academics. Ultimately, we all measure achievements in life differently, in fact, very differently. Please read my article on How important is your GPA (http://bluelife-jason.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-important-is-your-gpa.html) and comment on the fact that employers are looking at one’s acdemic performance as the entry bar to their industry. Like said, it all depends on how you measure your satisfactions. If one thinks that getting a straight As on their script speak well for itself, we have to let them be. Same goes other wise. I personally haven’t gotten anything below A minus in my entire university career – I am satisfied with my health and social well-being. Nevertheless, thank you for your article, one that triggered many thoughts.

  71. I appreciate that you brought up the question with regards to being “good enough” simply excelling in one’s academia. Ultimately, I believe, we measure success and satisfaction differently. In fact, very differently. Please read my post about How Important is Your GPA (http://bluelife-jason.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-important-is-your-gpa.html) and comment on how employers use academic performance as the entry bar to their industry. Like mentioned, it all depends on the ruler we use to measure ourselves. If one thinks the straight As on their script tell best about himself, we gotta let him be. Same goes other wise. I have never gotten anything below A minus in my entire university career – I am satisfied with my health and social well-being. Neverheless, thank you for your sharing, one that triggered many thoughts.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Hi! I like this post and I really believe that education is not about grades but how you were able to get through all the school days and still keep your sanity, your morale, and your friends intact. Seriously. It’s about surviving all the tests and exams because you want to achieve something… And that is a grown-up and educated self with your passion discovered. :)

    I have watched the movie as well, and I am deeply touched with the friendship of the three men. And their determination to live their life to the fullest for it is the only way to do it. :”) Very nice post, I applaud you, Marcella! :D

  73. Grades do not define a good or smart student, unfortunately, they are used as the only evidence of your academic performance. I have seen students having good grades who probably are not better students than others, but they are so worried about their grades, that some how they are able to increase them. Good post

    I invite you to read mine about Education.

  74. dianespeaks says:

    Hello Marcella! I can totally relate to your thoughts. I was a struggling student during my High School and Elementary years. When I entered college I said to myself that I will never again experience the shame of having low grades. I was an academic slave too. But when I started working, that’s when I realized that good grades are not enough. It’s a simply a reward or an indicator of doing good. Above anything else, there’s still attitude, passion, perseverance and the willingness to learn new things.

  75. people will good grade record in addition to high ego record, end up doing a lot of bad stuff to a lot of people. Getting good should not become a license to do “anything”, since being good in giving exams does not amounts to intelligences. It juts amounts to good cramming ! A rot technique.

  76. It is a really nice post but I want to mention that in a non-utopic lifes like good grades=good jobs, grades are extremely important. I had really great grades at high school and I had a chance to go to one of my dream colleges. However at my freshman year, some guy told me that “Hey, come oon, grades are nothing for our field, you just need to graduate in one form or another”. This was my moment of self-awakening. At least I had thought that it was. So at the end, I want to throttle him. Because I have graduated somehow and my only purpose of life is to study abroad for an MS/PHD which is impossible. So people should consider their next 5 years plan before they ignore the grades. Also, the top companies which I can work for also look at grades, course by course, year by year and I stuck with in “sme”s, and not the good ones. The good ones even do not need to make a pre-interview, they just say “oh, we have no open position for you.” The secret meaning in this sentence is “Hmm, I do not care about your cv or accomplishments before, I think you are an idiot because your cgpa is too low”. I am sorry but grades are everything for a successful life, this is the reality. I wish we all live in wonderland.

  77. farhan says:

    I could not help commenting on this post as my finals for my post-graduate course are being held next week, and I am trying to cram in all the essentials to clear the exam.

    Grades are important of course, but a student should not compromise on actually learning something when trying to get them. Good employers filter out such applicants from the interview even if they have excellent grades.

    I believe a student should develop an interest in the subject and learn throughout the course of his/her studies. Exam preparation depends on how the instructors intend to assess you, and whatever that procedure is, you have to learn about that as well so that you can get the grades. So it’s sort of a dual effort for the students who really want to learn something, if you ask me.

    I have never been a big fan of grades myself in my undergraduate studies, and I usually concentrated on learning about the subject. The institution, however, stressed that the students reproduce in the exams whatever they have been taught, and they did not expect them to deviate. So that was kind of boring, frankly, and I flunked a few times. I guess that depends on where you get your motivation from; some get it from getting good grades, some get it from learning more about their subjects of interest.

  78. grades are not a measure of your ability. Education should be fun not for grades or marks. We overlook our natural talents by concentrating on grades.

  79. chashick09 says:

    Wow, such a great post! I really am impressed with your classmate’s valedictory address. It was so dang true! I felt the same way. Thanks for this!

  80. Brilliant post, it is so important to work towards what you want to achieve & take pride in the grades you get, however it should come hand in hand with the enjoyment & satisfaction of learning. I think tools that aid & encourage study in innovative & engaging ways make learning fun and interesting as well as helping to achieve the best :)

  81. CreativityTalent says:

    True true true ! :D
    i Loved thiss post a lot :D it was my first time to read something for you ^_^ , loved your blog ! :D

  82. chib3h says:

    :3 As a university student myself, I felt this post struck a cord with me… Honestly, grades don’t really rule my life, but they do determine the actions I take and the decisions I make. Like whether to hang out with my friends and watch a movie or sit down to finish an assignment that was due the next day… I gave up competing with the stars in class and I don’t I want ever want to try again…

    I think the most important thing when you go to university, other than getting grades to graduate, are the people you meet and the experiences you get, not to mention the things you learn.

  83. yeah!~i never neglect my study, although the score can’t explain everything,even if i became the first of our school,that can not decide whether the future will be successful,but in the process of learning,we can see a person’s attiude.it’s the key.

  84. mon says:

    ‘…While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists… Yes, you will never know.

  85. Gray says:

    But I just can’t pass my exam, even though I have tried hard! Agony! Maybe I’m talentless or something.

  86. a very true fact …..I am right now doing my higher studies in accounting. I always had to face the pressure from my parents about getting good grades always during my school days. I always used to tell them grades wasn’t all that i wanted. What you wrote down here ,i used to tell my parents the exact same thing. But they would never agree to it. And of course because of pressure i was forced to concentrate on studies just to get good grades . This way i ended up not knowing what i really wanted to do or what my real interest was.Soon after school took up a field that would guarantee a good job later.And sometimes i sit back and think…was this really what i wanted to do?…
    Well,…all i wanted to say was…at times we need to enjoy and study, of course grades are needed too….But later its all about how much knowledge you gained.

    And the movie you mentioned “3 Idiots”…..its a really great movie..has lots of messages for students like us.!
    Enjoy Life…

  87. I do not deny grades are important to me. Even to the extent that I feel that ‘a pass is not sufficient’, I do not allow myself to score anything lower than a B. However, I have reasons doing so. I wasn’t a perfect student who is on path with my peers. I have lagged for two years in the education route that makes me feel that I *have* to score a good grade. Perhaps it is the nature of this society that we often overlooked the true meaning of education, learning and knowledge.

    A thought-provoking post that will definitely leave me thinking, in the end, I still hold a firm stand that grades will be one of my priorities in life.

  88. I think that if grades were removed totally, the emphasis would re-focus on learning. This doesn’t apply to college, because people make their own choice on whether to go or not and for not reasons. But in K-12, the emphasis is not on learning, but on passing, and nobody cares about most of the subjects, and only need and want grades. At that age, their isn’t even learning occurring most of the time, just forced facts and memorization, no real critical thinking.

  89. This is a really good post. I am too coming to the concept that I concentrate far too much on grades and stress myself out ridiculously over exams. I have never really thought about life and education in that way – it makes sense though. Good grades doesn’t necessary reflect intelligence.

  90. I can honestly say that I do not regret spending hours studying in high school rather than spending hours with friends. I didn’t have too many friends in high school, but I was a straight-A student. I come from a very small town, and I was just very different from those types of people. They drink (light) beer, I prefer wine. Many of them hunt for sport or ride ATVs for fun, while those ideas appall me for the most part. They see my boyfriend’s Brown University sweatshirt and the first thing that comes to mind for them is the Cleveland Browns. It’s very small-town mentality, and I never had it. I hope this doesn’t sound like I look down on these people for their lifestyle, because I don’t. They are happy, and that’s fine. It wasn’t wasn’t the right environment for me, and I felt suffocated there.

    When I got to University and met people that I actually connected with, this became very different. I started exploring my interests. I joined clubs that fostered creativity. And I began to settle for B’s. I was okay with that, because for the first time my happiness was not based on grades, but on relationships and connections that I had never had before.

  91. mmorreale says:

    Those words really made me think about what should be important to me at university. I am going to be a sophomore and I spent my freshmen year in the library making sure I did well. But I think the question you pose of how well is good enough is a fair question even though it does have to be asked in the context that you are competing with other people for a spot for who-knows-what most of the time. I will definitely take this to heart my next year on campus!

  92. mathematicalstateofmind says:

    I can completely relate to your mentality. I too was a grade chaser. I don’t regret it one bit, but I wish I had opened my mind to having more spontaneous fun at University.
    Great post.

  93. smartassindian says:

    I’ve always that grades are given too much of an importance as well, but sadly, and this is emphatically stated by both my uber-level academically performing sister and cousin, that is a necessity. To a certain extent, I have to agree, it is. You want a good job, you’ll need good grades. But it seems to me that in schools and colleges, you only get schooled not *educated*. There’s so much more to learning than just a couple of formulas and facts. Einstein himself said that her would never memorize facts and figures, he could always look them up in a book.

    And I come from India, which along with China, owns the rote learning technique. Kids are preparing for their college level exams as early as 11, which is absolutely ridiculous. I find it so ludicrous that there’s an eleven year old somewhere who knows engineering chemistry better than I do. Sure, grades are a good thing but their not the ONLY thing. We should be allowed to grow in the ares we want, the areas we’re interested whether it’s writing, art or photography.

    And as someone stated earlier, grades are not a measure of intelligence, it does however tell you something about how much effort a person is willing to put in. Nor is it a measure of someone’s potential, but sadly that is quite often how it is assumed.
    All I know is, even if I don’t get that six figure salary or that Porsche, I’m happy knowing that I’m doing what I want, whether or not I got good grades or not.

  94. lauralacey says:

    Wonderful post, so thank you for that! I was a very good student but worked so hard I forgot about having a good time and enjoying times with my friends when I had the chance. In the end I left school with fantastic grades, went to university and hated it! I’d put a university education on a pedestal and it wasn’t what I wanted. Now I am a fully fledged journalist, one of the only one’s running a national publication with no university education and it feels great!! I wish everyone the best of luck… and hope that you can find the balance Xxx

  95. Good timing! I have assignment submission coming up this week and after two 4am nights I’m wondering if it’s worth it. Are a few more HDs worth the inevitable week of sickness and slight depression brought on by too much caffeine and cigarettes and stress? Plus, it’s Deakin. Am I going to be able to get a job anyway?
    I’m not sure. But I’ll probably burn the candle at both ends anyway.

  96. I was distinguished as a magna cum laude graduate. I have good work now, but for sure, what got me here was not all about grades. But, more of my social activities. Good luck for your studies.

  97. qcwhfytl says:

    Blog is used to publish articles ,put photos ,talk and so on .In a word ,it is used to share our things with people we know or don’t know .It is globalized .

  98. Logan Bradley says:

    As long as school is going to take you where you want to be in life, then grades should be important. I know way too many people who are forced into a certain major/career, why should grades matter to these people when they aren’t even doing what they want to do with their life?

  99. Hey, I really like your veiw on things, I completely understand it. Although, saying that may not be so original judging by the number of coments you have. I thought I would mention, however, that grades can be really important for some degrees, especially the competitive ones. It is hard to get a job with Law if you are not the top in your class, for example, and for behavioural science (psychology) you need a credit average, and credits in some specific units in order to get into honors, and honors is required if you want to be a psychologist. I have a friend doing that, and at the moment their whole future and potential career seem to be reliant on getting really good grades right now. So, although you are also right, this is one area where the opposite applies.

    I also read the “Life = God” post, and I liked it too. You have a refreshing and interesting point of view. This post remided me of everything I hate about my degree. I’m doing arts/law despite my favourite classes in high school being maths and physics, and I agree that the attitudes of the different areas are very different. I feel Law forgets about life too, because it appears to be so concerned with minute detail and making things much more complicated rather than simplifing them. There also appears to be a competitive attitude where no one else helps or makes things easier for any one else- evn teachers. I study internally, but very few of my lecturers have actually turned up and conduct lectures- they just give you all this work to read and leave you to figure it all out on your own. I think this sort of analysis could probably be done of any area of study, really, and is fairly interesting. So, basically, good work- your blog is really interesting. :)

  100. I love the 3 idiots movie cause it is very much related to me since I am an engineer and I did go through that crazy engineering pressure..And I am glad that I did what I want in college, well majority of the time but nonetheless I enjoyed learning more in college than in Highschool and Elementary combined! Great post by the way…and just to add my 2 cents on the pressures of Grades: The way I see it, grades are just a weird way to standardized human thinking while knowing in the 1st place, we are each unique and different!” so just tap your chest and say, “All is Well” XD

  101. Wonderful post. For me, grades were also a mark of success, until I arrived at university and was told by a family friend that ‘no-one cares about your grades in the real world’. It was both a shock and a wake-up call. You should check out a documentary called Race to Nowhere, which looks at the education system in America http://www.racetonowhere.com/

  102. The first time I got “D” grade, I cried and wanted to drop from that course.
    But my brother said the grade’s just some number that won’t ruin your life.
    If you get low grade that mean you have to improve yourself. Don’t blame yourself or saying you’re stupid or anything. In the real world, if you have done your job well, be a good person, and do good things, you’re better than those who got the high grades but be a bad person.
    There are many people who got low grades or even didn’t graduated from any universities, but they still achieved their goal such as Bill Gates.
    So the grades are not everything in your life :)

  103. 3 idiots has a lovely song in it, which goes like this – Give me some sunshine
    Give me some rain
    Give me another chance
    I wanna grow up once again…..
    life is all about living and achieving things…… not achieving things to live a life..
    Gud post… super-like it… And I’m glad u liked the movie..

  104. Hello everyone!

    First of all, I want to THANK YOU for all the warm responses towards this post, I have just finished reading the comments one by one (literally…) and I really appreciate each and every one of you! Glad to see that I’m not alone against the education system…

    I would like to comment on the interesting issues that have been brought up, so let’s break them into several parts…

    For those of you who have been pursuing grades and feel lost – YES, I’ve been there. (you might want to read my other post, https://marcellapurnama.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/demoralised/ which tells my story as a grade-pursuer…). I guess it’s true that we need grades to get that very first job, or to get into honours degree (I need very good grades if I want to continue my studies in psychology *sigh), but I think what we need to remember is that grades is IMPORTANT, but it is not the MOST IMPORTANT. This depends on how you prioritise your life.

    The best advice that I can give (and you may disagree or agree with me) for students out there is to PRIORITISE the things in your life, and use your time wisely. Ask yourself, which one comes first – God, education, family, friendship, experience, or pursuing your passion? For example, you may prioritise family first, and then friendship and studies share the same ranking. This will help you to divide your time between family, relationship, studies, leisure time, and blah.

    And I also agree with some of you that say without exams, people tend to just slack and do very poor academically. This then, comes down to your own self-integrity. What I mean of pursuing that good grades here is that we have tried our best to learn about our passions, but not to the point that we miss life and overwork ourselves. and yes, balance! someone mentioned in the comment earlier that it is all about balance. agree.

    Lastly, for those of you who haven’t watched the movie 3 Idiots, it is highly recommended :). Not only it brings forth the values in relationship, education, with a bit of romantic interest, it also made me laugh all the way throughout the movie. lol, At the same time, it is also a touching movie, which yes, it did make me cry.

    For students out there, all the very best for the upcoming exams! Generally saying, be the best of what you can be in this world. :)

    Ps. I love quotes. so I leave you all with further thoughts about what others have said about life and education.

    “God has given us more than fourteen billion cells and connections in our brain. Why would God give us such a complex organ system unless he expects us to use it?” Ben Carson

    “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think.” Randy Pausch

  105. Jessica says:

    I just wrapped up my commencement so at the end of the this month, I’ll be done with high school. Grades are somewhat important to me but not important enough that I will do every assignment and ace every test. Just because my grades aren’t in the high 90’s, doesn’t mean I’m the most stupidest person. I was still learning, despite not studying sometimes. I learn everytime I attend class, everytime I read and even when I browse the internet. I learned from my favourite teacher back in 6th grade that, grades doesn’t define our intelligence levels. They’re just a letter system used in school to keep track of our progress. I really can’t thank my teacher enough for telling us that.. I didn’t slack off but accepted my grades as they were and know I’m not the stupidest person.

  106. I had a 2.7 GPA in college and I have a great Job. All about charisma and how well you listen to others to making you the person who you want to be. Intelligence is just another feature.

  107. I had a 4.0 GPA in college and I never graduated, have terrible credit and can not get a loan for a small business or a house. The only thing that I have to show for my life is my 5 year old son Ezra.

  108. i’ve nothing else to say but I commend you for this post. So much quotable material, and so much to attest to. I personally loved “University was never meant to be a pressure cooker. We come to learn new things, not just for the getting of good grades or jobs. More than that, we learn because we are passionate about what we are studying. It’s all about seeing the bigger picture. Good grades aren’t the guarantee for success in life.”

    Truly, it’s not just about studying for its own sake, but for the joy and passion that comes with learning. Sure, it’s not always about fun, but I believe we choose our college majors because we have a passion for that particular thing, because we enjoy what we do, which makes learning relatively easier and more enjoyable for us.

  109. Also, I am 36 now. I was in college in my early 20’s. I am a single mom back in my home town which is acrossed the country from where I went to college out west. When I was in college I thought that learning and good grades, a degree and bettering myself so that I could b successful was everything. Now that I am older and settling down in a different way than I had hoped that I would I realize that there is a different aspect to this. Remember that person that you were as a teenager, laying on a beach towel perhaps somewhere or picnicing in a peaceful spot and day dreaming…there’s your family that raised you near by and that absolute identity that you had within yourself of who you are? College is not a dock or a jumping off point. It is not something that we go head first in to staight off in to the abyss of life until death. It is just another aspect of our lives that we need to integrate in to our true selves and our true lives. If that makes any sense.

  110. I love your post. I recently finished reading “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” by Diane Ravitch, and while it focuses (obviously) on the American pre-college system, I think it speaks to a lot of the ideas you bring up. Primarily, she harps on the fact that today, so many students are trained instead of educated; there’s more pressure to test well than to actually try and obtain true knowledge. True knowledge, she feels, is something that you can take beyond the classroom; it’s what makes the great literary classics and wars of the world relevant to your life, today, right now, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. It looks beyond, for example, the fact that Frankenstein was a monster and what the core themes are, or explores not only what good grammar and spelling are, but how they can help you communicate and become a productive individual.

    So, to answer your question; how important are grades to you? I think that depends on how one is being graded. If you’re graded on how well you can fill in bubbles and spout facts, I don’t think that grades should be important. However, if you’re graded on analysis, evaluation, and an overall demonstration of actual learning as opposed to just regurgitation of the latest lecture, I feel that grade would speak to your develop meant as a personal. But I guess it really all just comes down to whats meaningful to you – just like your final quote, you have to go after what you want, whether it be just playing the game to pass, or striving for something beyond – something better.

  111. fullisnotheavyasempty says:

    As a teacher, this is wonderful. I will share this piece to my students. Mabuhay from the Philippines!

  112. Great read during final week here in Seattle, Washington, USA :) I fell into the same trap set out by grades and accomplishments. We measure success by achievements and we age without knowing that we age. Congrats on being freshly pressed and I wish you (truly) the best with your academic career.

    Cheers!

    http://hindsightnotes.tumblr.com/

  113. Oh man, the story of my life. I had perfect grades, National Honor Society but had no social life. Then when it was time for University, I just wasn’t interested. At this point of my life I have postponed college and I’m just living. I want to be able to have memories when I’m older.

  114. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    You know its so true! I graduated at the top of my class and when you think about it, you’re just following the rules and studying for the “A.” But when you get into the real world, no on really cares its about your here and now success and not what you have on paper. And in the end its what makes you happy. I was expected to become a surgeon or lawyer just because I made good grades. But I chose to be an actress not because I couldn’t handle the curriculum but because I knew I wouldn’t be happier any other way.

  115. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    You know its so true! I graduated at the top of my class and when you think about it, you’re just following the rules and studying for the “A.” But when you get into the real world, no on really cares its about your here and now success and not what you have on paper. And in the end its what makes you happy. I was expected to become a surgeon or lawyer just because I made good grades. But I chose to be an actress not because I couldn’t handle the curriculum but because I knew I wouldn’t be happier any other way. And how many people that appear to be successful are really happy?

  116. Two years ago I was a grade slave. Being a scholar all I have in my mind was maintaining a flush of 1 (1 is the highest grade our school gives). I also press in extra-curricular activities to add feathers in my cap, joining contests, and on my four years at college being a student council president. All that killed my social life.

    But then, all that right after school at first seemed useless. It’s not your honors that employers check, not the awards or the certificates, its the EXPERIENCE, and staying in your library or your room reading your ass off word per word to being a brainy geek would suffice all that. Me? I learned that the hard way.

    Grades are just numbers written in your cards (nowadays it is electronic), what makes you successful is who you have become after your academics, who you want to be after that, and how would you be that.

    Let me hear from you! http://aybanlim.wordpress.com/about/

  117. Personally, to me, I would like to a Bs and up. I would say it is pretty important to me only because I know that now that I am in college, it is used to determine whether or not I will get an interview for a job. My parents has always been big on grades and wanted me to be a straight A student but that just never happened. I understand that grades are important but at the same time, I feel like it is only so important up to a point.

  118. Well, I have one good grades account. My fiance (we never got married, but I wish that we had and we were sooo magically in love back then) one of the first nights that we were together in bed he rolled over and my college transcript just happened to be there on the bedside table. I can remember him gently studying it. It was like a 4.0 or a 3.86 with maybe 50 credit hours at the time. Nice to know that atleast he saw that I was smart back then when I was 24 years old. I am 36 now.

  119. We read this very speech in my AP Language Arts class last year. Ever since, it has been a great inspiration to me. I was very happy to find it again.

  120. Check says:

    :) Can’t deny this sounds quite like me. I used to get straight As, but in return, I never learned what it was like to have a friend. Now that I’m in high school, I let it go a little. I’ve settled for a B, a B- and occasionally even a C. To be honest, it really helped me. I now have a surplus a friends, and someone to talk to about every subject, every question, every problem, and I feel like a hole inside me has been filled up.

    ~Check

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