Study, Study, Study…


But work on yourself, just a bit more

Year after year university students stress over large workloads, difficult classes, and pressure to succeed. For some, just passing a course is a godsend, for others anything less than an 85% is a tragedy. So, the question then is exactly just how important are grades? To answer this, let’s think back to when grades seemed to really matter most, high school.

Ah high school, a pivotal point in many students lives, yet one students are often all too glad to leave behind. Surrounded by a flurry of questions about the future that couldn’t possibly answer at the time: like what career we wanted? What the plan was to get there? And, if that career choice was the best option? The secondary stream is when grades really begin to carry serious weight. For students who applied to university or college, grades were the point of entry. Not only are grades essential to being accepted to post-secondary institutions, but scholarship and bursary opportunities are abundant and hugely impactful to high school graduates. From entrance scholarships to prestigious family-funded awards, which both require high marks and extra-curricular activity involvement, the possibilities of having costs for post-secondary education covered increase with better grades.

Full of potential and ready to tackle classes and achieve great success, many students fail to get the marks they had achieved in their high school classes. So, in the case that grades fail to impress, how important are they? To those bright minds who acquired entrance scholarships, failing to maintain the necessary average ends the potential four years of funding. But aside from entrance scholarships, are good grades essential to keep up in each year of university? Many university applications take a sample of a specific courses from high school pertaining to the chosen field of study into account for the application, leaving most courses to be unaccounted. These courses are largely drawn from grades 11 and 12 classes, so does this send the message that only grades in upper year classes matter? I surely hope not. Most graduate courses and other post-undergraduate programs take an individual’s entire university transcript into account. So, throughout every year, each course, and all assignments, good grades are integral to holding a good standing as a university student.

What qualifies as a good grade? That depends on an individual’s plan after graduation. Some programs such as Law schools have limited spots and plenty of applicants attempting the LSAT, making it difficult to stand out amongst the competition without exceptional grades. Other programs, Education for instance, require a reasonable 75% average or higher for consideration, yet such programs often still have limited positions. Some programs offer strong employment possibilities directly out of university, such as Business or Nursing, where completing the degree is likely of greater value than an individual’s specific grades. Good grades depend on who those grades are meant to impress, be it a post-undergraduate program or a future employer. Regardless of the academic requirements of a program or needs of an employer, there are values learned at university that are much more important than numbers on a transcript.

Grades do not paint the whole picture. If that was the case, university would be solely a place to learn and do research in the field of study. University is far more than just academics, it is a student’s first foray into the world of adulthood. University is a place where we learn about ourselves both in and out the classroom. From meeting new people in residence or meal hall and classes to having discussions with professors after class, we discover how to adapt to a new environment, socialize and build relationships, and realize what values matter most to each individual. 

The personal growth each university student undergoes over the course of their degree is much more impactful than the grades they achieve. Grades may lead to acceptance into a program or a job, but a strong character will carry an individual through the rest of the journey.

I’m applying for Education next year as I’m graduating this spring, and I believe that the value of grades as well as the elements of personal growth are captured perfectly in the application process for our Education program at StFX. The first half of the application is graded out of 100 which includes a transcript, two essays, and three references; The second half is an interview which is graded equally out of 100, clearly indicating the importance of an individual’s character and personality. 

I believe a person’s character to be more important than that of simple academic success. By weighing the interview equally to the application, a person’s ability to speak clearly and present themselves in person is an integral part to a well-rounded candidate to be a teacher. Not only does this ring true for teachers, but also many other programs and occupations value a person’s character as one of the most important qualities. Once formal schooling ends, success is no longer measured in grades but rather in occupational feats and accomplishments. No longer graded on assignments and tests nor judged by a mere number, instead performance and outcomes driven by work ethic and character are the keys to success.