Last Updated: Nov 12, 2015
Your grades don’t define you—but they do still matter in high school, in your college search, and maybe even in your life after college. This is something many students need to hear.
School is stressful. Not everyone gets straight A’s, and the weight of grades sometimes brings us down. In an effort to comfort those who aren’t getting the grades they want, the mantra “your grades don’t define you” has spread around. To be fair, it is true and something you should keep in mind. But many students have warped the meaning of this saying into thinking grades don’t matter and you don’t need to try to do well in school. But is this really the kind of mindset we should carry around as students?
Grades do matter. There may be flaws in many grading systems, sometimes in the education system itself, but letters and numbers do still hold value. It may be a tough truth to swallow, but you’re only hurting yourself if you pretend like grades don’t matter. Colleges look at grades, scholarship organizations look at grades, and employers look at grades too.
However, you should also remember that you don’t need to hold a 4.0 to be successful. Grades can’t show every amazing quality you have, and colleges, scholarship organizations, and employers understand that.
Instead, you should think of grades more as a measurement of how much you tried. If you’re failing almost every class, there’s a strong chance you aren’t applying yourself and reaching your real potential. To some, straight A’s come naturally, requiring no extra effort. If you’re one of those students, then getting below a B might mean you really didn’t try. If it takes you hours of studying to get B’s, then that’s okay too. As long as you truly tried to the best of your ability, you can look at a C and be okay. If you know you can do better than a C, then try harder next time, do something different when you study, use a different test-taking strategy, or even ask for some extra credit. Everyone is capable of improving in school. It just takes time. Just remember that you should never beat yourself up over a low grade—as long as you actually tried.
Grades don’t define you. Those numbers on your transcripts aren’t labels on your forehead. You are so much more. Good grades are important, but not so important that you should pull all-nighters until you collapse. Finding a healthy balance is possible.