OPINION: The competitive conversation around grades is unhealthy for students


Cleo Chow

Students feel obligated to share their scores, which can lead to negative downsides.

“What did you get on the test?” is a common question heard in high school hallways after students receive their scores. Despite many celebrations, one can often hear mad and frustrated groans from those who received lower scores than their friends.

Students can be under an overwhelming amount of stress, especially during finals, all due to  homework, pressure from teachers and lack of sleep spent on studying. Another common origin of stress that many don’t realize is the culture of comparing grades.

It is unhealthy for students to constantly compare themselves to their friends. In this climate, grades are valued more than education itself. Good grades are thought to be a pathway to college, so students strive for As instead of learning and absorbing the subject material. The pressure to get better grades puts more stress on the students, which contributes to lower grades.

Many students see their grades as a way to show their intellectual superiority, even though grades are not always an accurate representation of intelligence. Some students are better at memorizing material then others, but it doesn’t mean that they are smarter. When a student gets a good grade on a test, they often feel the need to announce it or ask others what they scored just to brag.

Some might argue that comparing grades motivates students to do better. While it may be true for some students, it makes others feel stupid and can lead to more stress. According to a study conducted by the Greater Good Science, 70 percent of students from high-performing California high schools often feel stressed by their school work, and 56 percent often worry about grades, tests and college acceptance. This stress often stems from the unhealthy comparisons of grades. It is okay to care about grades, but constantly talking about them is not healthy.

Students nowadays think that school is about grades and not learning. While this is true to an extent, focusing in on what one learns will lead to better grades. People don’t need to compare themselves to others to get motivated. They need to find motivation within themselves.