Sorry to say it, but grades do matter

Sarah Lelonek

I have heard many times from teachers, professors and parents that grades do not matter. They’ve told me that grades only are a reflection of what I’ve learned and that they don’t show my intelligence. Professors tell me that grades do not make the person, the person makes the grades.

That may be true, but, to me, grades show a lot more than what I’ve learned.

For me, grades are my college tuition. I rely on scholarships, and scholarships rely on grades. Without good grades, I don’t have the means to go to college. If I don’t finish college, I won’t have the future I have been working for.

I’m not saying for professors to go easy on people in my situation because college careers are on the line. I just want professors to think twice about what grades mean to students.

Even for those students who don’t have scholarships hanging over their heads, grades still matter. They show students that all the hard work they are putting into the class is paying off.

I know students who spend hours studying for an exam or working on a project. They put as much effort as humanly possible into getting the best grade.

I know I freak out about finals and midterms. I spend all my time studying and no time sleeping. I feel like no matter how much time I spend studying, I will always miss a fact or idea that I need to know. I want a grade that justifies all the hard work. I want a grade that matters.

When a professor tells me that all the hard work and time I spent on getting a good grade doesn’t matter, it’s a letdown. For me, it feels like the professor is telling me that my work isn’t appreciated.

I know professors say grades don’t matter not only because they believe it but also to try to take some of the pressure off of an assignment or test. Sure, it’s moderately comforting knowing that my professor doesn’t think less of me for bombing a test, but sometimes I feel like professors are undermining the amount of work I’m putting into getting good grades.

Professors were once students; they had to have the pressure of getting good grades bestowed upon them. I wonder what their professors were telling them while they were getting ready for midterms and finals. I wonder if they were as discouraged and distraught when their professors told them grades didn’t matter.

What I would like to hear more often from my professors is study hard and do well. I want my professors to tell me to do my best and push me to get good grades.

I feel like by telling students that it doesn’t matter what grade they get only what they’ve learned, we’re also telling them to not work as hard. It’s like we’re telling students it’s OK to be mediocre and to not strive to be on top.

In a capitalistic society, we need people who strive to be on top. But when those people don’t have a support system telling them to do better and try harder, they may settle for being average because that’s what they’re being taught as acceptable.

So for all those people out there that are stressing about grades and the future, I say try your hardest and do the best you can. Whether it’s because of a scholarship or your future, I’m here to tell you grades matter. If you don’t do so well on that next test, at least you’ll know you gave it your all.

Sarah Lelonek is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]