Daniel Cho and Charlie Brennan

Comparing grades seems like a normal feat for students, especially after a test. We evaluate ourselves on how others perform. Seeing your friend get that A while you get stuck with a B+. We’ve all been there. But what’s even worse, because of our competitive attitudes, this has been leading to high amounts of stress and cheating.

However, it’s not a surprise that this situation has arisen. In a world where competition is welcomed and grades have an overwhelming amount of importance, we can only expect comparison between grades. In a world where everyone strives to succeed, every student wants to go college after high school. And what’s essential to get an acceptance letter from that particular college? Grades. Grades have turned into something that defines who you are. Good grades might indicate that you’re a hard worker and intelligent. While bad grades have placed stereotypes on kids that they’re not smart and that they won’t do well after school.

What benefits are there to competing? It’s this whole idea of survival of the fittest. The major benefits seems to be this sense of motivation. When we want that high grade, students will try to learn every detail about the subject and absorb as much information as possible. However, at this rate, this isn’t necessarily “true learning”. When we look at how colleges take acceptances, they look at your GPA along with your extracurriculars and etc. There’s no true way that colleges could see someone’s knowledge which is why the students that don’t necessarily get the best grades are at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, when we compete, it drives students to succeed. So while grades may not be in use as initially intended, it has been giving some positive benefits.

When we look at the effect it has on students, there are three main effects. It reduces student’s interest in self education, reduces preference for challenging tasks, and lastly reduces the quality of the student’s thinking (

Clayton parent Creig Anzellotti says, “Once you [students] stop focusing on getting the grades and start focusing on the learning, good grades will follow.” Grades are not the reason why students try in or even attend school. The reason for school is to enlighten and educate future members of society. Grades are a way of expressing one’s progress, not the goal. Learning information only to achieve good grades is like playing basketball only for the money. Its just stupid. Students should not be absorbed, as much as they are, by grades. Our society has placed an over emphasis on grades, where instead they should have put their emphasis on learning.

In addition, getting good grades has cause many students to choose the “easy A” assignment rather than take on a harder assignment. This has this has discouraged the growth mindset. Instead of trying to improve their skills, students try to demonstrate that they know the skill they have already mastered. Just as in any group, students’ learning drive conforms to the average. The slow ones speed up slightly, and the faster ones slow down slightly. However if the speediest in the class are not being challenged the whole attitude in the classroom is changed. The drive and constant challenging of themselves raises the entire mood of the classroom, and by focusing only on grades society, is dampening the overall learning.