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Why GPAs make the grade

By Kristen MisakColumnist

It has become increasingly common for grades to be deemed irrelevant to a true education. Some say that grades add unnecessary stress and cause students to feel like their grades are a numerical manifestation of their self-worth. Others say that grades have little significance in the real and corporate world. But that is not the case. Grades are important.

Grades are a motivating factor for students. The sad truth is that although some students are eager to learn, many would fall behind if they were not held responsible for knowing the information taught in class.

The grading system fosters long-term knowledge because it encourages students to remember what they are taught for at least enough time to be tested on it. If students can retain the knowledge up until the testing period, it is more likely that they will retain it for even longer. Without testing, students would not be pressured to review and, in turn, would not get the most out of the material.

Another argument typically posed against grades is that since they are not used in the real world to judge a person’s performance, they have no significance at any other point in life. However, as students progress through school, it can be seen that the number of graded assignments decreases.

High school has fewer grades than middle school did, and in college, it is rare to find a class with more than ten graded assignments. This is done so that students can be weaned off of the grading system and learn to perform at A-level even when they are not being scored.

Performance quality is always important, and having a pre-existing mindset of wanting to do as well as possible even when no one is administering a letter grade is a valuable attribute.

And contrary to popular belief, GPA does matter in the hiring process. Granted, grades are not everything when it comes to landing a job or an internship, but if two similarly qualified candidates are separated only by their GPAs, the hiring manager is bound to select the candidate who performed well in school, because it shows dedication, commitment, good work ethic, time management skills and diligence.

Grades are also necessary to compare education systems and to find out what must be improved upon in schools. They provide a succinct mathematical way to examine academic efficiency. If students were not tested, it would be impossible to see if they were provided with the proper instruction and retaining what they learn.

This is a generation of schooling, and now more than ever it is important for students to prepare themselves for the job market that they will be faced with in the coming years: one in which manual labor jobs are phased out by technology and white collar jobs are increasingly more common.

If we pretend that learning now will not be a key factor in the rest of our lives, we are ignoring reality, and the best way to ensure that our students are learning is through the grading system.


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