Stop caring so much about grades

Jackie Cychosz, Copy Editor

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I have always cared way too much about academics. I am that person who rents a study room in the library about three times in a day, stares anxiously at my notes, and guzzles down a couple of Diet Cokes if I have a big test or paper coming up soon. I am scrupulous about my work and beat myself up whenever I miss an assignment, no matter how insignificant. I do all of this in order to achieve one thing: a decent grade.

This year, many of my professors have been preaching an idea that I am not used to hearing. My professors have been preaching the idea to not focus on my grades, but to instead focus on the experience. While this seems like an agreeable concept, I have not heard this emphasized quite so much at Luther College until my senior year.

It is not only one professor who is telling me this either; all of my professors have either hinted at or straight up told me to stop caring so much about my grades and care more about the subjects they are teaching me.

I would love to concede to this idea and become more Type B about my grades. Unfortunately, there is one large underlying problem: the way this education system is set up puts a lot of emphasis on getting good grades.

They practically spell out at graduation who got the best GPAs with their cum laudes, magna cum laudes, and summa cum laudes. How are we supposed to not care about our grades when there is the possibility of winning awards for doing well in school?

Not only does this happen at graduation but many times throughout the school year. I am a part of the Luther College Women’s Tennis team and we create a list of goals and standards at the beginning of every season. When we talk about academic goals, the first thing that we think of is receiving the ITA Team Award. In order to receive this award, we as a team must achieve an average GPA of 3.2. So along with achieving a good GPA to raise your own self-esteem, this award puts pressure on players to do well so that their entire team can reap the benefits. In addition, the IIAC also gives out individual academic awards, reiterating that good grades are important for the individual.

I did not decide to write this article because I believe that a more relaxed attitude towards grades is impossible. On the contrary, I want to see certain students, including myself, take grades way less seriously. But in order for that to happen, the system first has to change.

It seems contradictory for my professors to tell me to stop worrying about my GPA yet have the institution of Luther College praise me constantly for worrying. Even the subtle things like an advisor applauding someone for a strong semester or a professor writing ‘Good job’ on a student’s paper can leave an impact. I am not suggesting that professors stop positively reinforcing their students, but those reinforcements do establish standards and put pressure on students to keep meeting those standards.

I wish I had the antidote that would quell this obsession with grades, but I do not. All I know is something has to change within the institution to make students comfortable with becoming more lax about academics.

If this occurs, perhaps students will be more engaged with their class subjects rather than the letters that show up on their transcripts.

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