From elementary to high school, we’ve grown up with our fellow classmates. We’ve struggled through class presentations, AP classes, planning for college and everything in between. And along the way, we’ve been graded on every little thing. But by junior year, if you take a step back from the stress and the pressure building up around you, you start to realize sharing your grades and test scores with classmates only has a negative effect on your high school experience.
First, let’s address the underlying stigma in high school classes, particularly more advanced classes. Even discussing this issue with my classmates raises their concerns, as if wanting to keep my grades to myself meant I had horrible, embarrassing grades. And other students feel this on a daily basis. When a classmate comes up and asks someone what they got on a test, how would you expect them to say they prefer not to tell people? It seems simple but it’s nearly impossible to have this conversation without raising some suspicion. I’ve even seen the little white lie, “I haven’t checked my score yet!” prompt someone to say “Check it right now,” which puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on the other person. And for what? Sharing this precious information adds completely no value to anyone’s life whatsoever, and we should keep this in mind throughout high school.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of discussing grades as well. After an especially challenging test, I’ve felt the need to ask others how they did on it, then compare our scores. In the frightening midst of life-changing test results being released, comparing scores provides a sense of comfort for students. Or at least it does for a few minutes. Then, comparisons turn into competition and competition turns into an education that is void of any value.
To those who don’t want to share their grades– whether it’s because you’re unhappy with them or because you just don’t have a need to compare them– don’t give in to the peer pressure.
To those who constantly ask everyone what their grades are– whether it’s because you’re proud of yourself or because you’re making sure you weren’t the only one who did badly– focus on your own progress and respect those around you. Asking for people’s scores is an unhealthy habit that only fuels negativity.
Although discussing grades may be appropriate for some situations, this conversation is rarely out of sincere consideration. Instead, we use grades as just another method of labeling and identifying people– as if a C on a math test determines your capabilities and your worth.
When it comes to academic competition, these stigmas make us miss out on the valuable opportunity to support and connect with other students at our school. We are all on different paths, and one day we’ll be fully on our own course, despite how our classmates perceived us. I just hope that by then we realize that high school should’ve been a time for acceptance and growth rather than stigmas and competition.