“If I get a B on this midterm, I need A’s the rest of the year!” Students often said this to each other in the past month, struggling to get an A in as many classes as possible. More than ever, students are going to their teachers begging for a bump on their grade by 2% from a C to a B, a B to an A. They beg has if the matter of that 2 % is life or death. More than ever, they feel pressured to academically be the best of the best . The question now is why they go through so much stress, so many sleepless nights to get there, sometimes putting their well-being aside completely to academically overly-succeed.
So many students want to make it into the best colleges, whether it’s from the desire of their parents or their competitive nature. It is easy for someone to look at someone else’s high accomplishments and think, “I need to do better than this if I want to get into this college.” For this reason, students are feeling the need to get A’s all across the board. And it is not just the pressure to get good grades. A 1400 on the SAT is no longer considered “good enough” for many students. Many will spend a lot of time and energy doing extra preparation on top of schoolwork, trying to get a 1500 or a perfect score of 1600. They often face sleep deprivation, and sometimes depression and anxiety, while staying up late studying for multiple AP classes,.
The obvious trend here is that colleges and even high schools are making it all about the number. The student’s GPA, their SAT or ACT score will often be the most important factor in deciding a student’s acceptance into a school, and the school may even look for upward trends in their GPA. This signifies that they are “improving”, but at what cost? So many students say they take multiple AP classes for the high GPA, and to impress their dream school, but at the same time say they learn things they will “never use in real life.”
Of course, a high grade can earn a higher chance of being accepted to a school. However, wanting to stand out by succeeding is one thing, but working so hard that it takes a physical and mental toll is another. For the purpose of being a “well-rounded” student, many students will not only be tackling a mountain of work, but also clubs, sports, and other extracurriculars. This can often lead to an imbalanced lifestyle as they lose time for social life and self-care. Their focus becomes school and only school. At the end of the day, they may feel good about a grade, but what would they really have accomplished for themselves? Is education really about just the grade?
It truly is the time that schools start focusing on a student’s strengths and personalities that set them apart from the crowd. Instead of seeing the B in math as a lower score than the rest, they should see the drive the student had to try hard enough to at least earn that B. The constant desire to only score high may lead students to climb the wrong mountain. Many of them do not realize the toll that high grades in hard classes may take on them-- or even worse: they don’t care--, and aim for a warped image of a perfect student. Eventually, this will do irreversible damage to students’ mental health, social lives, and everlasting outlook on education if the emphasis continues to be placed on just a number.