Grades gilded with fool’s gold

GPAs aren’t always the golden ticket to a successful career.

Editorial board

With a slew of midterms seemingly appearing out of thin air this time of the year, stress concerning grades and test scores seems to be at a semester high. It’s not surprising; for the entirety of our school career, we have been taught to worship an arbitrary set of five letters and to subscribe to the belief that grades will inevitably determine the advancement or degradation of our futures. But grades are becoming less important — more pertinent are the unique experiences we have that directly prepare us for our careers.

Out of high school and into college, most students lower their standards to a certain extent. The first few sobering midterm exams of freshman year reveal both the difficulty and seriousness that go along with earning a degree. It’s not easy — something as valuable and worthwhile as a college diploma shouldn’t be a cakewalk. The pressure felt by students to get good grades is intense, whether for graduate or other professional schools, for the prestige of graduating with honors or for their own satisfaction and self-worth.

 The important parts of college are not the rows of single letters printed on a sheet of paper; they are about the experiences that can’t be quantified on a transcript. Design companies look at portfolios and creative ability and aptitude; engineering firms value internships; medical schools want direct patient care experience. These are all just as important, if not more so, than the grades doled out by professors — and they are more indicative of character than a GPA. Grades are an imperfect way of measuring academic ability; the more we are able to focus on our career interests and gain real-world experience, the better prepared and more marketable we will be after college.