To all high school students: It is OK to fail

There has to be room for failure


  We all have something we dread. This fear becomes a subtle probing thought in the back of our minds. Something that bothers us and consumes our thoughts. For me, it’s the bane of my existence, the forbidden word of academic life: GPA.

  The dreaded GPA. It’s on everyone’s minds but rarely talked about; it is too raw and sensitive for many.

   It’s not that I don’t care about the GPA itself; it’s  a vital aspect of college admissions. It’s the stigma surrounding GPA each time it’s brought up in calculating conversations or transcripts that produces anxiety.

  The more I’ve talked to students with GPAs varying all over the scale, it seems that most of them believe there is this imaginary “checklist” that will guarantee them an admissions letter.

  Students are constantly trying to figure out the perfect combination of extra curriculars, community service, test scores, and the perfect GPA. Many are still striving to have an edge in college, hoping it will someday guarantee them the future they hope for.

  People work hard for a great GPA, but it’s not the number, it’s their effort. Though one may work their hardest, some still may not receive their desired grade average.

  A GPA doesn’t identify who you are. It doesn’t determine your final destination in life. Students are merely a product of their environment, constantly being forced down a narrow path of perceived happiness and success.

  Unfortunately, from my speaking with college students, university professors, deans, and admissions officers, GPA is a strong determining factor of who gets admitted to college. Include SAT or ACT scores and it soon becomes obvious that college these days is just a numbers game. But do those numbers guarantee success?

  The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote about an interesting take on college two years ago.

  The title of his book says it all: It’s Not What College You Go To, But What You Do When You Get There.

  To be sure, a solid GPA and strong test scores are important indicators of success in college, but what about life after college?  There is minimal released empirical evidence of how GPA determines true success after college. The mentality of “what’s next” tends to paralyze students throughout college and eventually professional careers.

  What I don’t understand is why colleges and high schools aren’t focusing more on personal growth and development. Education systems all over the US are starting to stray from the original ideals of a quality education, overemphasizing GPA and neglecting to instill the desire to learn. Schools of today are more of a pressure cooker than a positive nurturing, learning environment.

  The sad thing is that this numbers game dominates too much time and energy. Students nowadays can’t get by with just a 3.7 GPA and a solid SAT score.

  In today’s competitive world it seems like students need to go above and beyond, staying perfect in everything, This “paper chase” doesn’t help anyone and especially not people’s own dignity and self esteem.     

  Whether people get into their dream college or not, there is a tendency to forget that their current situation is not their final destination. It’s important for everyone to remember that you are not your GPA. Numbers and grades do not define who people are and what they will be.