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College students: I am here today to tell you that your grades don’t hold as much value as everyone makes it seem.
In 10 years, you’re not going to be thinking about the C- you got the first semester of your sophomore year of college in that mandatory class you had to take to complete your “Art GenEd” course on theater. Not when you ended up being a finance major anyway. In 10 years, you’re not going to be stressing about the C+ you got when you wanted to get a B+ in that math class that you tried so hard in. Even if you were studying English and your brain is completely right-hemisphere dominant.
In 10 years, what will matter most is what you got involved in while you were in college; things you added to your resumé for future employers; volunteer work that taught you something about yourself or expanded your knowledge of the world; intramural sports that connected you with people you wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise; clubs where you could spend time doing the things you love with people who share that love.
I’m not encouraging anyone to stop caring about their schoolwork but I am giving a legitimate excuse to a legitimate issue. A traditional collegiate exam is not an accurate representation of one’s knowledge. The way that many teachers and professors formulate tests and quizzes throughout a student’s career does not accurately measure your understanding of a topic.
I took a Women’s Studies class my sophomore year of college. I was really interested in the topic, always went to the lectures and always did the assigned readings. I studied the material thoroughly and felt like I had a good understanding of what the professor wanted us to learn. When my professor graded us solely with a midterm and a final: multiple choice exams with answers such as “None of the above” and “All of the above”, I ended up nearly failing the course.
It wasn’t because I didn’t go to class or failed to understand the material. Rather, it was because the way the exams were organized didn’t allow me to exhibit my true understanding of the material. I know I am not alone in this struggle. If professors offered a more creative approach to test a student’s knowledge–an approach that is more hands-on–grades could significantly change.
So don’t beat yourself up about your grades, please. Do your best and go to all your classes. A lot of money is being invested in your attendance at school. Whether or not your exams prove it, if you are taking and learning something, anything, out of your classes and out of lectures, then you are succeeding. In the meantime, don’t spend every waking moment doing and thinking about schoolwork. Your potential knowledge will be truly constrained if your schoolwork is all that you are learning.
I love most of my classes and I truly love what I am learning in my major, but being on my own in college and choosing how to spend my free time teaches me things about myself and the world I would not have been able to learn in a classroom. My job at a restaurant has allowed me to connect with people both from inside and outside of CU that I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. In addition, I also learn a lot about time management. Writing for the school paper has been an outlet that allows me to meet people with similar aspirations as myself. It also allows me to put myself out there and get a start in my field of study and potential career. Learning how to snowboard and continuing to practice (despite how late I learned) grants me determination and patience. Even just taking advantage of being right by the Rocky Mountain foothills by hiking and enjoying the Boulder Creek has helped me make a better, healthier use of my freetime!
So next time you get a shitty grade for an exam or a paper you worked hard on, you first need to go to your professor and ask why. Then, reward yourself because what truly matters in the end is that you tried. I firmly believe that the universe will always take care of you if you are always doing your personal best.
Contact Staff Writer Domna Dali at firstname.lastname@example.org.