Learning For The Sake Of Learning, Not For The Grade

Caitlin is a 16-year-old from Simsbury, CT. She likes to write, make things with clay, and really wants a dog. Her two favorite subjects are art and English.

In our society today, it is easy to fall into the trap that the only purpose of high school is to attain excellent grades that will impress college admissions. While good grades are important, that does not mean that the only purpose of learning is to earn an A at the end of the year.

It is hard to find the exact origin of the familiar “grade grubber”, or someone who tries every means possible to achieve a good grade. One cause is the increased competition in applying to college. This competition stems mainly from colleges’ use of the Common Application, which enables people to apply to more schools due to simply the ease of applying. The Common Application enables students to send the same application and essay to all the schools that they are applying to. This severely diminishes the amount of work it takes to apply, which encourages students to send it to more colleges.

This Common Application has its negative aspects as well because future applicants see the increasing number of applicants each college receives and a decreasing percentage of accepted students. These statistics lead high school seniors to apply to more schools, as they fear that they won’t get in to any.

The SAT, a standardized test required by most colleges, is also a culprit behind the idea that a number determines your academic success. While the SAT is only a four-hour test and does not show many students’ full capability, it is given great importance in the college admissions process.

While these two causes can make anyone crazy about their academic successes, it is important to remember that numbers and grades are not everything. People who are stressed out about grades and tests also tend to not to do as well as those who learn out of enjoyment.

An English teacher once told me that students who were passionate about the subject she taught tended to do better than those who studied for one of her tests just for the grade. The people who wanted to learn also absorbed the information better and were able to remember it at the end of the year for the final exam.

This teacher taught me the value of information. Instead if just studying for a literature test, I would find myself looking up more information on the author and reading his other works just because I found myself interested. I did very well in her class not because I studied an excessive amount, but rather because I wanted to learn and absorb the information. While I still studied, this studying was very different than what I was used to. I did not become stressed out as the date of a test loomed, and I did not have fears about getting a bad grade.

High school is a time to try many different things and for students to discover their interests. If their only interest becomes getting good grades, they could miss out on many aspects of high school, both socially and educationally. It is important for teens to be encouraged that grades, while important, are not the only thing that matters.

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