Good Grade Hunting


Julia Zaksek, Jr. Managing Editor

You’re sitting in class, eyes trained on the teacher as they walk slowly from desk to desk, a stack of just-graded tests tucked under their arm. You wait, a twinge rippling through your stomach, until they briskly hand you yours. A quiet “good job,” barely registers as you flip your paper over and frantically search for red ink. A sigh of relief escapes your lips. You did it.

Pause. Fast forward to next grading period.

You flip over your paper and your eyes fall on your score, neatly circled at the top of your work. You’re painfully, devastatingly aware of the faint shake of your teacher’s head as they pass on to the person behind you. You didn’t do it.  

Every one of us has experienced both of these scenarios, or one in between. For most teenagers, school is not only a major part of day-to-day life, it also foreshadows the future from college choice to job success.  

In recent years, as the American school system has increased in rigor, voices have risen in protest of the importance of grades and the stress they place on high school students. A quick Google search can bring up hundreds of Youtube videos and think pieces denouncing the importance of grades and championing the idea of experience as the teacher instead.

As a full IB and AP student, I’d be lying if I told you that grades don’t matter to me. I’d be lying if this column proceeded to wind you a tale of an introspective and relaxed student who understands the value of learning and discovery.

However, it wouldn’t be a lie because I don’t enjoy exploring new ideas; it would be a lie because I don’t think learning and discovery carry the value they should in every high school classroom.

We learn because we want an A. We learn because we want a high GPA. And we learn to get to the things we really want to learn.  

For the past two years, I’ve always seen high school like a road. I get on it, stay on it, and try to stay ahead of it because I want to get where it’s going: an English and Journalism double major.  Is that the wrong way to think?  I don’t know, but that’s how I’ve been taught. It goes a little something like this: take the hard classes, get a good grade, get the exam score, get the high GPA, get the top class rank, get a good SAT composite and finally get to your college.

The thing that gets me, the thing that keeps me up as I lie in bed exhausted as my clock blinks just past 2 o’clock in the morning: what do I do when I get there?