E for Effort

By Gabriel Schneider
Published: November 2008

Often in school, students feel that their efforts supercede the grading system completely. After striving to participate in that boring class, or after finding a compelling thesis for your paper; after taking extensive outlines on readings or after finally understanding that abstract concept, what do you get? A grade point average.

For some, grades serve as a slap in the face after a term of little effort, and for some they are a pleasant reward for hours of hard work. Regardless, receiving a report card at the end of a long term can be stressful.

Since there are no comments or explanations to go along with a high school GPA, many students feel that grades too often don’t reflect their learning of the material.

“GPAs do not necessarily represent how hard a person is trying or the effort that is given, junior Isa Geltman said. “You can learn so much and get a B.

Like many other high schools, the GPA system at South is based off a five point weighted scale and a four point unweighted scale. Since colleges recalculate GPAs for each applicant, however, there is a lot of room for varying GPA systems in different schools. Newton North for instance, uses a nine point system to calculate students’ GPAs.

Although college admissions consider many aspects when reviewing an applicant, GPAs are often a critical factor in the decision. In the world of higher education, superior grades reflect success during and after college.

An A on a report card however, can reflect more than just diligence.

A student who wishes to remain anonymous concludes “you could land easy As in a class while learning nothing. An easy teacher, a grading curve, or good test taking skills can all result in a good grade. “How you do in a class really depends on the teacher, he said.

Regardless of one’s expectations, grades are a concern for many students and cause a lot of stress- especially as the term comes to a close.

Since many students often feel that their efforts exceed the grade they get in a class, they often over-evaluate their grade in a class.

Math teacher Lisa Honeyman describes a statistic done by an AP statistic student last year which showed a convincing trend that South students over-report on their grades.

The study was conducted by a student asking people what their GPAs were and then comparing the average to the actual GPA average compiled by the school.

“She found that the average of the reported GPAs was significantly higher than the actual average, said Honeyman.

There are many different possible reasons for this phenomenon, but perhaps students simply think they are doing better in their classes due to the amount of work which they do.

Although GPAs are a burden for many, sophomore Alex Lyon has a slightly different philosophy. “GPAs are an important part of going to college, but they shouldn’t get in the way of your life. To spit back information for an A is one thing, but to really understand its true meaning is another.

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