You are NOT your GPA

by Katie Yeaton

You can tell you are in the heat of study and finals week when everyone is trying to become a hermit and cram information for hours on end.  The papers pile up, the books stack up, and the library becomes your new best friend.  As a educator it pains me to see my students cram information and spew it back 12 hours later for a test.  Learning should be enjoyable and an enhancing experience, not something you zombie-like walk through.  So needless to say mottos, like the following, have been getting on my nerves.

This picture is all over social media, including US News - College, and it is sending a sleep depriving, stress-induced message.  Yes, we as students want to do well, push past the pain and fatigue to succeed in school, but we do not have to figuratively kill ourselves to get a 4.0 GPA.  We need a healthy balance between academic and social.  I appreciate this message’s intention to encourage students to power through, persist, and strive for excellence; however, GPA is not forever.  If you transfer, if you choose to leave that semester for mental health reasons, so on and so forth, your GPA can change.  What is important to remember is that you try your best and start as early with your work as possible.  Try to plan ahead and try to keep a level head when it comes to study and finals week.  Most importantly, remember you are NOT your GPA.

I personally feel privileged to have a high school experience that encouraged this ‘learning for the sake of learning’ mentality.  I always remember my AP Euro teacher saying, “do not be a grade grubber”, and in return our class became more focused on learning the material rather than focusing on the letter grade.  In undergrad, I certainly could have drove myself mad to get a perfect GPA, but instead I was more focused on my overall learning experience.  My GPA was not my defining factor.  I enjoyed learning both in and out of the classroom, a cross-curriculum ideology I bring with me to this day.  So while good grades and a good GPA are important, this balance between in-class and out-of-class lives needs to be heavily considered.  One’s health/Bloom’s Taxonomy comes first.  GPA is but one fraction of the big picture.

What are your thoughts?  How do your students perceive the importance of their GPA?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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