Have you been at a point during your studies where you felt like you just wanted to call it quits?
You are not alone: Three out of four college students reported having at least one stressful event going on in their lives during 2018, according to a study published in the medical journal Depression and Anxiety.
Our competitive, result-driven society takes most of the fun out of college and induces frustration and insomnia. And one of the biggest stressors on me and other students is GPA.
Ever since elementary school, I have strived for excellence. I hold myself to a high standard while trying to juggle it all — various part-time jobs, a full-time class schedule, extracurricular activities, internships and a social life. I work hard to keep my GPA as perfect as I can, which has caused me to experience anxious days and sleepless nights, especially during finals. On the brink of total exhaustion during one of these days, I realized perfection isn’t worth a mental breakdown.
College should be a time for students to figure out what they want to do by trying different classes and learning from their mistakes. But it’s impossible to expand our academic boundaries without considering how difficult they might be because we’re all so GPA-obsessed.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why GPA matters and why students who work hard should be rewarded.
But it shouldn’t be the deciding factor that makes us overwhelmed and too scared to choose classes that are out of our comfort zones. We should challenge ourselves.
The little number matters so much when applying for scholarships, internships or graduate school. So, students opt for “easy” classes to keep their GPA high.
LaDell Murray, a sophomore computer science major, said he’s taking Exploring Music as an uncomplicated, GPA-boosting elective.
“It’s an easy class, but sometimes that grade isn’t worth the mind-numbing boredom,” he said.
Murray would’ve taken more challenging classes if he hadn’t been taking his GPA into consideration, he said.
“Even though a lot of people say GPA doesn’t matter, only the degree does, it’s not entirely true,” Murray said. “Next year, I will be applying for internships, and a lot of the ones that interest me have a strict 3.0 minimum.”
But even a perfect GPA on its own won’t cut it.
Gavin Farber, an academic adviser in the Fox School of Business, said contrary to popular belief, a 4.0 GPA won’t guarantee success on its own.
“If a student does not have any engagement activities on their resumes, it is not going to provide the soft skills necessary for those future adventures for students,” Farber said.
It’s so easy to feel out of control when you’re worried about grades.
David Tran, a senior recreational therapy major, said he’s frustrated with his microbiology class because he’s not earning the grade he wants, no matter how much he studies. He’s worried this will affect his applications to medical school.
I’m not sure how we can resolve our GPA-obsessed culture so students can get more out of their college education.
In an ideal world, we could take any classes that make us feel curious. We’d try new things and make sure where we see ourselves in the future is right for us.
But because we need to make the grade, we’ll keep looking up classes and professors for difficulty in advance, jeopardizing a well-rounded psyche and confidence in our future endeavors.