How important are grades to college success? And why do students fret when getting a C on their transcript instead of say, an A or B? Indeed, there are even those students who challenge their professors’ grading rubrics when they score a lower grade than what they expected on a semester paper project. Why the anxiety?
Students believe that a grade lower than a B on their transcripts hurts their employment possibilities following graduation or prevents them from going to graduate school. Generally, that is true. The higher the grades, the more job or graduate school opportunities students can expect upon graduation.
However, where the workplace is concerned, grades are not always an indication of a student's competence or future job performance but are a standard measure of current academic performance.
We all know the grading scale and what it means. A grade of C (2.0) on a paper, test or course indicates that the student‘s work performance is average; while a B means it is above average and an A means it is excellent.
So, considering the future, receiving a grade less than a B on a major paper or course is often a source of great anxiety.
While students should strive for the highest grades possible, it seems reasonable to suggest that student performance on papers, tests and courses is not always going to merit the highest grade.
So what do you need to do to get the highest grade possible in your courses this semester?
In her book, Pathways into College Reading and Learning, author Janet Elder suggests that students have more control over their grades than they may think. Often, student work ethic and performance directly affects the grades they receive.
It stands to reason that students who regularly attend class, participate in class sessions and submit homework on time get higher grades than students who lag in attendance, show little enthusiasm for the course, seldom ask questions for clarification in class and are late in submitting assignments. Indeed, there is no substitute for doing the best job possible on assignments and tests for every course throughout your college career.
Having said this, there are still going to be classes when, even after doing your best work, you will receive a grade that is less than you expected. After all, there’s no such thing in life as perfection. There are academic and personal reasons, but not excuses, why students sometimes do less well than expected. this is the case.
Some courses may be more challenging than others. For example, many students wrangle over college algebra, which is one of the most difficult courses in the national curriculum. Scoring a C in that course would be a good grade compared to the multitudes that fail the course and find themselves re-taking it the following semester. Read this article from the Huffington Post on some of the hardest college courses out there and know that you’re in good company.
Also, your professors fit into the mix. Some may be very demanding with the level of detail they expect you to exhibit on research papers and your ability to think critically and apply theoretical concepts to daily life.
Then there are personal considerations as well. For instance, a large number of students work to pay their way through college and find themselves balancing the demands of the workplace with academic demands on their time.
Moreover, there are personal circumstances and family issues which may play a factor in student performance and may even mean that, from time to time, students don’t do as well as they expected. After all, the one thing that doesn’t stop because you’re in college is life itself. So give yourself a break!
You may feel better knowing that while there while there is no substitute for a high GPA if you are planning on attending graduate school, most employers don’t use GPA alone to judge potential success in career positions. In fact, as Laura Morsch, writing for CareerBuilder.com notes, a large group of employers use 3.0 as their cutoff.
What this means is that a sagging grade in a tough course is not always an indicator of future success or failure in a career field. Employers do take into consideration individual circumstances.
Moreover, many employers place a premium on things like personal work ethic, integrity, persistence, and level of enthusiasm. These character traits are just as important to your future success as a high GPA.
In many ways, success in life is just around the corner. But the future is in your hands. Do the very best work possible. But if you don’t do as well as expected, reflect on your mistakes and learn from them. And, knowing that your best is the very best you can do, love yourself enough to accept the results and move on. There's more to life than a GPA.