Opinion: Students Need to Focus on Learning, Not Numbers

Lindsey Blakely, 12 and Katelyn Carney, 12 work on an assignment in AP Biology.

Yibran Franco

Lindsey Blakely, 12 and Katelyn Carney, 12 work on an assignment in AP Biology.

Ryland Mallett, Staff Writer

This is a warning to all students caught in the trap of high school. My generation has been told over and over again that to be successful we must have the best grades and a more impressive portfolio than the person next to you. We have been told wrong and are functioning under false beliefs.

I am in the top one percent of my sophomore class, I made a 1170 on my PSAT, I have a 4.0 GPA. Students today are defined by numbers. Grades, class rank, college entrance exam scores, GPA. My numbers are pretty good, and I work hard for those, but you wouldn’t expect me to be the type of student who sleeps through most of his classes. Well I am, and many people ask my how I do it. Some assume I cheat on all of my assignments. The people who know me better know cheating is not an option for me but still cannot figure out how I am so “successful.” The truth is I could care less about the numbers. All I want is to learn.

The misconception blinding students today, 100s on homework assignments and perfect scores on tests is success, has hindered us from really educating ourselves. The world does not function on a basis of scores, it is run by people who know how to do things. My ability to cheat on a chemistry packet to get a 100 is not going to get me anywhere in life. But my ability to write out chemical equations and predict the outcomes of reactions might. Despite my lack of interest in Chemistry, you never know when it might come in handy in a future job. It is better to be equipped with lots of knowledge than to not have any know-how at all.

The numbers in today’s high school world were originally created as a system to measure the knowledge of a student. Thanks to the way we have been raised and the things we were told growing up, almost every student has forgotten that fact and students who care, are able to manipulate the measuring system. Extra credit, cheating, the way assignments count more and the way classes are weighted different all affect a student’s grade and can be used to give a false representation of someone’s true knowledge. Colleges and employers don’t want the students with the best grades they want the students who know how to get things done and can create something that contributes to society.

I don’t mean to say sleeping in class and not caring about your grades is the correct way to approach school. Good character contains a combination of responsibility, self control, work ethic and knowing when to stop working. It is important to try to be successful in school, but the focus should shift from the measurements of your learning to your actual accumulation of knowledge.

Students need to stop caring so much about their numbers and start caring about their knowledge by focusing more on learning what their classes are trying to teach them. Really take advantage of your education. Knowledge is power and that power is what will prepare you for whatever the future has in store.