Focus on GPA turns us into mindless 4.0 drones
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 14:01
In today's Future, "Our Stance" is about grades in higher education and the overall value of a college degree in today's society.
Personally, as I have progressed through UCF, I've slowly started to worry less and less about my grades.
Maybe it's because I'm into my fifth year at UCF, or maybe it's because I've been done with my major-related classes for more than a year now.
Either way, it almost feels like I'm spending money just to reach that 120 credit hour threshold. I understand that this is required for a reason, but at the same time, I can't blame people who lose motivation and don't really care about their grades any more.
Throughout high school, my social life took a big hit because of the workload involved; I would routinely come home at 3 p.m. and work on tedious, dull homework until after midnight.
I learned a lot, but only when I was challenged. Needless to say, high school was an uphill battle.
When I started at UCF as a history major, the challenge remained the same for me. History as a study is a degree that is very intensive in reading, writing and research, and these subjects are exactly what I was used to being tested on.
I'm very proud of my GPA in the major. What I'm not so sure of, however, are my grades outside of it.
I was never a C student until I had completed the major. Since I completed it over a year ago, I've found myself studying less and less for tests.
Instead, I've traded that time with being absorbed in the lectures and reading material from more of an exploratory standpoint.
This isn't to say that I've learned less. I've actually learned a lot more than I ever thought I would have, especially in philosophy and political science classes that I've taken as electives.
After a while, though, regurgitation gets old. Multiple-choice tests get old. Short ID questions get old.
It gets to the point where you just want to sit down, read the chapter and take away from it what you were meant to: an impact upon the way you see the world around you.
That being said, I have a hard time judging people who earn average grades. Whenever someone talks about low GPA scores adversely affecting a school and the reasons for those average or low scores, they often don't consider all of the possible causes.
Personally, it has always been about the professor. My Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher in high school created a very unique atmosphere; she became very close with all of her students and made absolutely sure that they always had an opportunity to ask her questions.
Ultimately, she made it so I never, ever wanted to let her down and I worked hard to make sure that I didn't.
Professors, by becoming more than just repeaters of information, can create such an atmosphere. It's not an easy thing to do, but it's very rewarding for both parties.
For professors that I've hated letting down, I've earned high marks. In classes that involved repetitive tests, simple lectures and corporation-like environments, I've always felt a lack of motivation.
I've always studied and learned a lot of the information, but I was never worried about grades in such classes.
My point is this: Numbers don't explain everything. I would rather come out of UCF with a 3.2 having learned a lot than a 4.0 that was earned through an inordinate amount of busy work.
I've gone to schools in many places and I can safely say that the best instructors I've ever had have been UCF-related.
So, the next time you have a heart attack about your grades, keep in mind that college is about learning and growing up, not putting down a 4.0 in black and white.