Making Life’s Grade

Ryan - Boulder, Colorado
Entered on November 16, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

This I believe: I believe that I am not my transcript. I am not recorded by mere numbers and letters; I can not be known by the impression made by a 400 dpi printer on 50 percent recycled paper. My grades are not my intellectual capacity, and my extracurricular activities do not encapsulate the whole of my interests. Quite the contrary.

Though many seem to think that this piece of paper is the best tool one has to understand a vast group of people in a timely manner, I believe that thousands of people cannot be distinguished from each other using only a few grams of paper and ink per each. A good mark in a class is not indicative of a good grasp of Shakespeare or a profound intuitive sense of integrals, but rather a simple indicator of how much effort was expended in the direct pursuit of those marks, for their own sake.

One could argue that you can make a fine examination of a person through their records, and I would ask them: From my enrollment in one choir class, do you grasp the full depth of my love of music? Can you feel how many hours I have spent walking alone on an abandoned road, belting out lyrics to both the most known and the most esoteric songs in existence?

From my junior year grades, can you differentiate between student apathy and family struggles that came close to bankruptcy? Do my grades in physics show you the countless nights I have lain awake, dreaming of the most fantastic inventions and innovations, from electrical generators built into yo-yos to submarines constructed of geodesic domes? They do not. And how could you expect them to?

I believe that grades are not an indicator of my ability, but rather my stress level. Consider bad grades made up of stellar examinations and missing homework. I know that every teacher I have had has seen in me intelligence, drive, creativity. I seen proof that the point of diminishing returns in the American grading scale fits in at about a B-minus, and I’ve acted on that notion, deciding that it’s not always worth the time spent on an A-paper that will never again see the light of day.

I believe in doing things for their own benefit, not simply because of the reward or punishment they may bring about. So I’ve spent my time pursuing real knowledge, real experiences, real friendships, all so that when the time comes, I’ll be ready for real life.