We are not our GPA scores

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For modern high school students, more often than not, excelling in classes is not so much driven by a desire for education, as it is driven by determination to maintain a high GPA. This reveals the troubling reality of the current state of the education system in America. Because of the mentality surrounding GPA scores and the emphasis placed on them, high school education has become caffeine and stress fueled four-year fight for the idolized 4.0.

For modern high school students, more often than not, excelling in classes is not so much driven by a desire for education, as it is driven by determination to maintain a high GPA. This reveals the troubling reality of the current state of the education system in America. Because of the mentality surrounding GPA scores and the emphasis placed on them, high school education has become caffeine and stress fueled four-year fight for the idolized 4.0.

The system of grading is the main cause of this mentality among students. In America students are graded on a percentage-based system that in the majority of classes places an A grade with a 4.0 GPA at 93 percent or above. This may seem fair to some, but in reality these higher grades can be very difficult to obtain.

Students in high school often have other obligations that put extra stress into studying, completing homework, and for seniors, applying for colleges and scholarships. Many students participate in some form of a sport, club, or after school program that requires regular scheduling, active participation and attendance. 

For some sports, practices can go late into the night, infringing on a student’s time to complete not only homework, but also any other activities they may need to complete in an evening. Often times when teachers hear these complaints they simply say, “You should have managed your time better.”

As an Advanced Placement student I have seen first hand the way that this has impacted many of my friends and fellow classmates and their studying lives. I have heard time and again about students who stay up until 3:00 a.m. simply trying to complete the previous night’s homework, or finish cramming for a test. It brings me sadness when I hear people simply laugh these comments.

This kind of stress, if allowed to continue, will sometimes manifest itself physically. A dear friend of mine, who is an incredibly diligent and dedicated student, was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in her sophomore year of high school. It is suspected that her condition arose because of the amount of stress she was putting on herself in order to balance all of her AP and honors classes as well as the rest of her life.

It is not ethical to expect this generation of teens to undergo these levels of stress in their day-to-day lives for the sake of making the grade. A GPA score does not determine a student’s intelligence level and therefore should not be treated as if it is the end all be all of “score” of a high school student’s life.