Do Grades Measure Work Ethic?

College students take a long-anticipated sigh of relief, as final exams are over. We have more than enough free time to recline on the couch and watch Netflix, count down days until the next holiday, and of course, reflect on the semester past. Laptop lights glow in the faces of students eager to check their grades online. But when all is said and done– grades are submitted and GPA is calculated– we have to ask, do grades truly measure our intelligence? But more important, are they a precursor to how well we will perform in our future careers?

I am a freshman in college , and I rolled into IT 104 class on final exam day without studying. After the test, I rushed out of the room to avoid thinking about the damage that I had likely done to my grade. Well, you can’t go back and change the past, can ya? Long story short, my grades landed me a spot on the Dean’s list (thankfully), but I don’t feel that grades are always a true reflection of hard work. This past semester wasn’t nearly as rigorous as high school was. There was never any need for me to sacrifice sleep, wonder when I would take my next shower (high school cross-country running left little time for personal hygiene), or watch the minutes run away from me as I ate dinner.

One factor that attributed to my swift first-semester success was ample homework time. High school students are required to be at school for 40 hours a week. That’s like working a full time job! You must be in your seat, ready to work for the next 8 hours starting at 8am. On the other hand, my college scheduled left substantial time for me work a part-time job, spend more time at the gym (mental health is critical to academic success), and dedicate spare time for family. I never sacrificed any aspect of my health– sleep, hygiene, or otherwise– to pass a class on good standing. The fact that I put less effort into academic work yet received higher grades than I did in high school is incongruous.

I am confident that I am intelligent student with a strong ethic. However, my grades were a better reflection of my ability to calculate my desired semester-end grade than true grit and determination.




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