How to Stop Obsessing Over Your Grades

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Everyone from insomniac highschoolers to caffeine-addicted college students have felt the wrath of The Grade. Many ask, “For what reason?” Most answer, “For success,” “I need to get into a good college” or “I need to get a job.” But, the real question should be “At what cost?” The tyranny of the grade makes students groan at the thought of school, studying and evil GPAs. Getting that glorious “A” does matter, but if it’s attained out of the drive for knowledge rather than a 401k plan, you’ll be much happier post-graduation. Seize the day and break the cuffs the grade has kept on you since preschool with the following steps.

 Read for fun

Most schoolwork and studying involves reading barren, dry, dusty textbooks you just spent your last dime on. While books like these can put you to sleep, reading the latest Nicholas Sparks for fun can train you to power through your reading and, *gasp*, even enjoy it. Up your for-pleasure reading and you’ll learn to pull context clues, between-the-lines information and tidbits from your class reading. I’m not saying reading the Hunger Games series will help you ace your medieval history course, but it’ll help you knock out the course material without going completely insane.

Work your a** off

Hard work trumps intelligence in more ways than just Spanish midterms. As Hannah Montana once said, it’s not the end result that matters, but the climb. If you work so hard you go blind from studying, the grade becomes obsolete. Focus on developing a solid work ethic, attitude and drive, so you can never be disappointed at the end of the day. If Billy Madison can do it, so can you. Roll up your sleeves, put a smile on your face and prove to dad you’re not a fool.

Study with purpose

While studying for a test or exam, study for the sake of learning and not to brag about a GPA. If you go into a major study sesh with the goal of memorizing every last notecard, you’ll likely drive yourself insane and then promptly forget the difference between the tibia and fibula. Instead, try to make a conscious effort to study like a kid studying baseball cards. It’s difficult to do in classes where you yawn non-stop, but the simple effort will subdue internal screaming while studying.

Become friends with your professor

Even the most grueling course material can become a thrilling new gem from a BFF relationship with your professor. In office hours and after-class chats, go beyond basic questions regarding how the essay should be formatted. Ask about how your professor got interested in the subject matter, why they choose to research owl mating practices and how they entered the teaching profession. If you can attach your professor’s personal interests and history to the class, you’ll add a whole new fascinating layer to the material. You can also relax during lecture if you feel like a friend is speaking to you, rather than a superior.

 Don’t take rocks for jocks

School enriches our minds and bodies…until grade obsession makes students take classes like Rocks for Jocks to score an effortless good grade. The easy “A” sounds good in theory, but actually deepens grade anxiety. Challenge yourself to learn, not to get an “A.” The idea of taking British literature or any other seemingly difficult class horrifies students everywhere because of the all-nighters required to pass. If you put the grade aside, the idea of learning about Jane Austen and challenging your brain with your peers doesn’t sound quite as scary. Take the harder course and forget the grade. You won’t regret it.

Grade obsession is a worldwide epidemic that spreads like wildfire, and it won’t be put out anytime soon. Most serious students are in school for upwards of 20 years, which is a pretty long time to be miserable over a silly letter. Make the most of those decades by working hard and absorbing info like a sponge. If you learn to love orgo, the grade will come. I promise.

Jack O'Reilly is a sophomore mathematics major at Boston College. He seeks to be a gentleman and a scholar in all walks of life: professionally, athletically, socially.

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