Bailey: Grades aren’t the most important thing

Fynn Bailey

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. 

As many of us at Colorado State University know, college is a lot. There is so much pressure to go to all the events, make all the friends and, most of all, get the best possible grades. With so much money on the line for this education, it can become hard to see the forest for the trees.


However, grades shouldn’t be our only signpost for success, as success at college can look like a lot of different things.

It all depends on the paths in life we want to follow. If you are destined for an Ivy League law school or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology then, yeah, your grades might be your most important measure of success. If you’re not sure what you want to do, then just getting a degree opens a lot of doors. As the old saying goes, “C’s get degrees.”

It’s also important to remember that “succeeding” at college doesn’t define you.

Focus on the positive parts of your life, and grow yourself out from there rather than wilting on the negative vines. School is only this chapter of your life, and most of us are still in the beginning chapters of this book.

Beyond grades, there is networking as a sign of college success. There’s gaining experience as well. Some people find their passions, and some people build a support system of friends that will last a lifetime. With so many ways to make this time worthwhile, we shouldn’t let our grade point average steal all our focus.

They say it’s not about what you know, but who you know. As published in The Washington Post, 70% of jobs are found through networking — not through job advertisements.

Focus on the positive parts of your life, and grow yourself out from there rather than wilting on the negative vines.

College is a great place to build that network. Look at any of CSU’s large career fairs and other events. Clubs are good ways to meet professionals in your field, and after college, alumni organizations can be a great place to meet people in your field who graduated years before.

Not to mention you also have the invaluable connections you’ll make with fellow students in class. That lab partner of yours might help get you a job someday or just help you move apartments.  

If class isn’t your thing but you found work at an organization or business you’re passionate about, then that’s great experience and moves your life in the right direction. 

If none of that is happening for you but you found out you love to help others through volunteer work and you want to work for nonprofits, then that’s a success too.


Maybe you just made some solid friends, and together you’ll get to graduation — that’s more than enough.

College is really hard, and it can feel like a four, five or 10 year long marathon. It’s also stupidly expensive, so the stress of not wanting to waste this time can be intense. It’s important for students to remember that just getting through can be a challenge, so if you can, you should call that a success.

It’s also important to remember that if you can’t get through and you drop out, you’re still golden because life is so much bigger than school. Believe in yourself, look at where you’re winning and use that area of success to build more.

Grades are just one measure, and you are so much more than one measure.

Fynn Bailey can be reached at or on Twitter @FynnBailey.