Zachariah: College students put grades over learning

Tianna Zachariah

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Students take grades way too seriously; we focus more on getting the diploma, than learning the information.

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Students constantly worry about what format the exam is going to be, what questions are going to be on it, and how to get extra credit to avoid that dreaded minus. School should be about learning the material, yet somehow grades have taken the spotlight. Focusing too much on grades is detrimental because it distracts students from the learning process and causes them to take advantage of the learning experience. 

Don’t get me wrong, grades are important. It is the first thing people look at when deciding admissions. It is one of the first things recruiters look at to choose potential new hires. And obviously, graduation will not happen with constant class failures. There are standards for education that are supposed to encourage learning, but sometimes they fall short.

We all want to be successful, and we won’t be unless we know what we are talking about. A diploma means nothing, unless we have the KSA’s (knowledge, skills, and abilities) an employer is looking for. If we are so focused on getting the grade, we spend less time learning and applying knowledge and more time figuring out how to work the system. This will not serve us in the long run because we will not actually be qualified for the jobs that we actually want.

Going through the motions has become the new norm for college students. Mindlessly attending class, robotically take notes, and obsessing over grades is the norm because we think it means success. They don’t. The grading system is just a benchmark of progress, and we students are experts at skewing that data.

Being so focused on the numbers can distract from learning the information needed to succeed. The majority of us are here because college is a stepping stone to what comes next. Learning is supposed to be something we are passionate about and something fun.

According to a New York Times article, “edutainment” combines aspects of education and entertainment into products and experiences that seek to improve learning by making it not just painless but also pleasurable. People love learning. TED talks and free edX courses are a couple examples of edutainment that engage over billions of people. College students get to experience first class learning, and we so often take it for granted.

As one of the most developed countries, US college students get the opportunity to partake in education that millions of kids around the world would kill for. Because we are constantly stressing and putting pressure on ourselves to achieve the highest grades, we don’t even get to really enjoy this opportunity.

We obsess over grades because we long for the sense of security they provide and the opportunities they may unlock. We love the title and status that comes with any educational degree. But, if we can’t actually do anything with that information the degree is worthless.

It is possible to fail a class and still be successful. Everything learned is information we are better off for having, because it is information we didn’t have before. Focusing less on grades and more on actual learning will benefit us as individuals and society at large. Grades are important, but they should not take priority over learning.

Tianna Zachariah can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @TZachariah20

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