The Future Written in Red

Why students want to achieve academic success


Your heart starts to thump quicker and quicker in your chest as you squirm in your seat, anxiously waiting for the letter scribbled in red at the top of your test. Your body is filled with adrenaline, the kind that forces you to strive for success as a student and desperately fear failure. You experience the simultaneous thrill and terror of receiving your test score, the one that could affect your overall grade in the class and the GPA you have worked so hard for all semester.

To some, it may seem silly to put so much time and effort into a three-digit number in a little box at the top of a report card, and students’ concern about their grades often annoys teachers who simply want their students to enjoy the learning process. However, grades do matter because they affect students directly and depending on a student’s desired career path can dramatically influence their future.

“Grades have a direct impact on a person’s life. It is not necessarily the grades themselves, but it is the effort to achieve those grades that also has a huge impact. I have learned many essential life skills such as hard work, diligence, and perseverance through my pursuit to get good grades that will prepare me for the real world,” said Lea Despotis, sophomore.

Practicing how to learn effectively, deeply, and efficiently is a skill students should actively be developing through their middle school and high school careers as they prepare for college and the lives ahead of them. Learning the value of hard work, time management, leadership, efficiency, and studying surely show some level of success as a student, but they do not take away from the importance of grades and the honorable reasons students desire to achieve success academically.

“I agree that the whole purpose of school is to learn, but I also believe that your grades should reflect what you have learned. Demonstrating effort in class by working hard to get good grades shows that you really are interested in mastering the material that you have been taught,” said Despotis.

Many students are weighed down by the pressure they feel to attain good grades from their parents, older siblings, or even from themselves. In today’s society especially, teenagers are expected to be the best of the best in school, sports, the arts, and every area of their life. Many of them feel the constant pressure to succeed from their parents in order to avoid disappointment, while others feel the need to live up to the achievements of their older siblings. Maybe this is a crucial flaw in families, but students should not be blamed for wanting to please their families or show their capabilities through academic success.

“My parents always tell me to ‘do my best,’ and I do admit I feel some pressure to do well. However, most often I put the pressure on myself. I feel like I have to uphold a certain academic standard that I have created for myself. People know me a certain way, just as I know myself a certain way,” said Nina Bacon, sophomore.

In addition, many students have admirable reasons for wanting to receive good grades. From a very young age, I wanted to be a doctor, and I know that working hard and setting high academic standards now will lead to success in my future. It is unlikely I will ever achieve my dreams of working in medicine if I do not start building up an academic résumé now.

“Good grades will not only help me get into college but will open many doors for my future career path in numerous fields of study. Achieving good grades shows the willingness to put in the effort necessary to work hard, which is exactly what any boss would like to see in an employee,” said Despotis.

Grades certainly do not define a student’s identity, but they should not be completely disregarded either. As students, school is our career right now, and grades are often a level of our work ethic and success. And most importantly, as children of God, we have been called to use our gifts and to “reach our full potential,” as Despotis said.

 “The better I do now, the more opportunities are open for me in the future. I want to do something that I love at a place I love in the future. I can’t guarantee my acceptance, so all I can do is work hard to better my chances,” said Bacon.