Face Off: The Grade Debate

What would you pick? | Conant Crier

What would you pick?

What would you pick? Getting a good grade in an easier class or getting a mediocre grade in a  more challenging one?

Face-Off Debate between Sruthi Gurudev and Shreenath Patel.

The Struggle of Your Schedule

By: Shreenath Patel

Position: Better to get good grades in easier classes

Maximizing your Minutes

GPA: 3.0. Three letters, 2 numbers.  For some of us, it’s our biggest nightmare, while for others, it’s our most prized possession. A highschooler’s GPA and test scores used to be their ticket into college. But in today’s over-achieving society, high schooler’s have pushed the limits of the definition of a good student to being well rounded, challenging yourself as much as you can and achieving almost perfect test scores and grades. Being this good student is a lot easier said than done, so the question is, what’s the better route to take: getting awesome grades in average level classes, or taking as many AP classes you can cram into your schedule and working your tail off to slide by in those classes? In my opinion, it’s a much wiser decision to take a limited number of AP classes in high school, so that you can focus on doing your absolute best in those AP classes, and can also save your GPA with exceptional grades in regular-level classes.

Humans, and especially highschoolers, have been conditioned to want to challenge themselves so that they can aspire to achieving great heights. Being just a mediocre student is no longer what a lot of students are accepting for themselves. In fact, some people believe that students who choose to take regular courses when they have the potential to succeed in AP classes are just plain lazy. This is what makes the choice between taking AP level and non-accelerated courses hard. Students are acting as their own judges, and don’t want to succumb to the pressures and demands of high school by taking regular level classes. I’m here to tell you that taking a regular level course, rather than an AP level course, is by no means a way of losing or backing down from a challenge. It’s important to want to push yourself and work hard for results, but there is a fine line between spreading yourself too thin and going headstrong for your goals. When determining the academic rigor of your schedule, you have to consider other factors, such as commitments to family, extracurricular activities, and work. Time is limited, so it’s essential to maximize your minutes.

Sacrificing the GPA tank

Even though colleges are now asking that students are holistic and well-rounded with their involvements and contributions to society, and that students excel in AP classes, they still consider your GPA during the admissions process. If you take all AP classes–and like many highschoolers are experiencing, your GPA tanks because of the excessive amount of work required to be in those level courses–you’re not really helping yourself, because you’re not able to put all of your effort into any one class. Rather than going through some classes with flying colors, you’re spreading yourself too thin and costing your GPA in the process. Like anything in life, if you cannot commit to devoting yourself 110% to the task at hand, it’s not a good decision to do what you’re considering because like the quality of work you put in, the quality of your results will simply be satisfactory.

The bell is about to ring, and you can barely finish typing your essay because your hands are almost vibrating after all of the coffee you drank. With only three hours of sleep, getting up in the morning seemed to be like climbing Mount Everest. But all of your AP level classes have tests and assignments due today, and you didn’t have time to complete all of them because of your track meet last night. So, frazzled, sweating, and anxious, you write whatever comes to mind for this paper and end up getting a C.

Ask yourself if you’ve been in this situation, or can envision something similar in your future. From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s not worth sacrificing your health for school if your return on investment is not at the caliber that you want it to be. The next time you create your schedule for school, consider if you want to do your absolute best in certain classes, or suffer through barely staying afloat in all of your classes.

The Harvard Bound “B”

By: Sruthi Gurudev

Position: Better to get mediocre grades in hard classes

A Matter of Pride

      Stellar grades, Varsity athlete, president of nine hundred clubs, AP classes galore: college expectations are pretty relaxed, aren’t they?

For many of us, receiving A’s in school fulfills personal manifestos, the medium between the gold star stickers of childhood and the steady career of adulthood. However, that vision falters a bit when you take AP classes. A lot of times, the grade lags behind while the class moves on. It’s ideal to say that it’s best to get A’s in hard classes, but with the rigor of college level material and the cut-throat competition among scholars, just take the plunge and accept the big, bad B-.

The first two things admissions counselors takes into consideration are GPA and course rigor. This information often toggles between students but ultimately, getting the B-/C+ in AP Physics looks a smidge better than the A- in regular physics. Prospectively, a couple drops in the GPA will be supported by everything else you’ve done, such as volunteering, clubs, competitive accomplishments, and sports that will back up a mediocre grade in an AP class.

Not to sound academically sadistic, but sometimes the struggle is worth it. Everyone faces the long nights, head smarting from the information overload, and mouth dry from the pint of Mountain Dew they just chugged, but these sacrifices become the side effects of the drive to succeed. That desire becomes restless inside you too, rearing its head and roaring. The AP courses are stressful, but double it as a motivator to try to conquer the obstacles of your education. While it may not produce 5.0 results, there’s a certain respectable perseverance in this endeavor that is easy to spot by admission officers.

AP Struggle Transfer

Furthermore, a difficult course load is a keen preparation for the future: a time that will inevitably be filled with the mesh of sincere work and not-quite-there results. Straight A’s are incredibly difficult to maintain. For a lot of people, it’s a matter of personal pride; getting a mediocre grade in a class is something gnawing, a permanent blotch on their respective self-worth. But I say that the desire for a challenge, to actually want to go further intellectually but receive a little bit less of a grade is better than being warped into a mindless “hunt-for-Harvard” A.

Do not just covet the transcript. Spend a year exploring your own capacities as a student. Cry over the papers, rub the sleep out of your eyes, and try to get the college credit. In a way, it’s an awakening to something freshly uncomfortable: perhaps you feel dumb for once, compared to the rest of the mad genius slackers milling purposefully around you. That’s fine. Study harder, earn an OK grade, because guess what? It builds character.

Go ahead, get the B or C, know that your application is multi-dimensional, and take the time to try to be proud of your AP class. Transform the challenge into true interest.


Comment below or Tweet @conantcrier your opinion with #gradedebate! The Crier would love to hear what you think.

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15 Responses

  1. pfaso22@gmail.com' Patricia Faso says:

    I believe it would be more beneficial to take an easy class to earn a high grade than take getting a mediocre grade in a more challenging one. Like Shreenath Patel says, “If you take all AP classes your GPA tanks. You’re not really helping yourself, because you’re not able to put all of your effort into any one class. Like anything in life, if you cannot commit to devoting yourself 110% to the task at hand, it’s not a good decision to do what you’re considering.” Your GPA tanks when you’re in all AP classes because of the excessive amount of work required to be in those level courses. You have to do so much work in all of these classes, that it kills your grade in all of them. Many high schooler like to take only a couple AP classes, so they can push themselves, but it also allows them to focus on those classes since their other classes will be easier. Doing this, it will leave them with less stress, because and they will have a higher GPA. They will have a higher GPA because they are getting good grades in the average level classes, but also they will get good grades in those AP classes, because they aren’t overloaded with AP classes. It’s not bad to take a couple AP classes, but taking too many can push students over. If you can’t give 110% in the challenging classes, you wont get the results you want. With many AP classes, you cant give 110% because you don’t only have that one class to worry about. it’s not worth sacrificing your GPA to take a couple extra hard classes. You should only take what you can handle. If you’re only putting in “okay” work into those many hard classes, you’ll only get “okay” results and that’s not what you want, because that effects your GPA. Challenge is good, until you can’t handle the challenge you’re taking on.

  2. alissawachal7@gmail.com' Alissa Wachal says:

    Taking an easier class and getting good grades is the correct way to complete high school. In the beginning of high school students believe that challenging themselves is going to be what colleges look for. In reality after senior year colleges are only looking at two things. test score, and GPA. scholarships, and admittance are based off of these two things, and by taking hard classes, they will be dramatically lower. The test numbers might be higher but without a high GPA, scholarships are low to non available. Challenging students is good to a point, but once students cant handle the challenge and it just ends up hurting them they should take the classes they can handle.

  3. I believe that it depends on the student on if he or she should or shouldn’t take an easy class to earn a high grade or a challenging class to earn an average grade. As long as the student is working to the best of their ability and taking a class that challenges them, and does well then what is the harm in that? Mark Montgomery states ” In truth, it all depends on the student. Every student should take the most challenging courses he or she can perform well in. Colleges are looking for students who push themselves, who are interested and excited about learning. Honors courses are an indicator of intellectual drive and curiosity” (Higher). I completely agree with this statment because a student shouldn’t be judged on how easy or hard their classes may be. Montgomery also states “The worst thing a student can do, however, is to be enrolled in honors courses through sophomore or junior year, and then take easier courses in order to boost a GPA. This always backfires, as admissions officers want to see upward trends in both the GPA and the rigor of the academic program” (Higher). All in all, I believe that it completely depends on the student and their ability on school work.

  4. patel3236@students.d211.org' Twinkle Patel says:

    I believe that it is more beneficial to take an easier class and get a higher grade than to take a more challenging class and get a mediocre grade. Shreenath Patel says, If you take all AP classes–and like many highschoolers are experiencing, your GPA tanks because of the excessive amount of work required to be in those level courses–you’re not really helping yourself, because you’re not able to put all of your effort into any one class”. AP classes are classes that challenge you and give you more work than needed. It prepares you for college but is it really worth taking an AP class and getting a C or D in the class when you struggled so much in the class and you didn’t understand anything? It really isn’t. Students think that colleges look at how rigorous your senior year schedules are but in reality, they look at two things, your ACT or SAT scores and your GPA. Is it really worth taking a challenging class when you are just going to struggle and get hurt in the end? Challenging students is good but if you can’t handle it at the end, then there’s no point to even take the challenge. It’ll just hurt your GPA. GPA really does matter to colleges because it shows how you did all four years of high school. And it isn’t worth it to take an AP class and have your GPA go down.

  5. murphy3416@students.d211.org' Brie Murphy says:

    I believe it is more beneficial to take harder classes in high school and receive more mediocre grades. Sure your GPA isn’t exactly what you want it to be, but colleges will overlook that when they see an AP in front of a course. Like Sruthi Gurudev says, “While it may not produce 5.0 results, there’s a certain respectable perseverance in this endeavor that is easy to spot by admission officers.” This quote shows that although you may not be getting the straight A’s you strive for, colleges will see that you are taking much harder classes, and reward you for that. Another quote states, “The desire for a challenge, to actually want to go further intellectually but receive a little bit less of a grade is better than being warped into a mindless “hunt-for-Harvard” A.” This quote shows that by taking regular classes when you should really be in AP classes will just hold you back academically. School is a place to learn, not to take the easy way out to get a bit of a higher GPA. By taking AP classes now, it will also just better prepare you for the workload you will be receiving in college.

  6. Sanjana.rangaraju@gmail.com' Sanjana Rangaraju says:

    I agree with Sruthi Gurudev because it is better to do okay in hard classes than doing really well in a easy class since its good to give yourself a challenge and not back down when you have hard situations. I agree with her points because I have had similar experiences.

  7. Ashley Jun says:

    I agree with Sruthi Gurudev because I think hard work is much better than an easy A. I want to be challenged in an environment with my peers rather than give up on a class that I have potential to do well in. It is more important to work hard and set higher expectations than to have an easy gratification. When Sruthi says, “double it as a motivator to conquer the obstacles of your education” I think it makes a point that the struggle must be won.

  8. Pasqua.mola@comcast.net' Pasqua Ruggiero says:

    I agree with Sandra Portogallo in which it truly depends on the students. Personally, I do believe that mediocre grades in more difficult classes are much better because AP classes are more rigorous and fast paced than normal classes. You are getting a lot more out of an AP class and learning a lot more material. Just because you (a hypothetical AP student) does not have the same (or better) grade than a person in the same class (but regular level) does not mean it is worse! You are gaining a lot more knowledge in this AP class. My physics teacher, Mr. Kulak, always encourages us to focus on the material, not our grades. Think about the future, past college, into your career- a person should be knowledgeable in their field. Would an employer employ someone who did not learn much but received a good grade in their regular class, or someone who knows more but did not receive as good of a grade in their AP class?
    Of course, if someone does not care about what they get out of that class, then maybe their grades are more important to them. As I said before, it is truly dependent upon the person, but nowadays a lot more students value their grades over knowledge.

  9. tariq8655@students.d211.org' Mona Tariq says:

    I believe that it is more beneficial to get a mediocre grade in a harder class, because it helps you prepare for life outside of school. Sure, easy A classes are fine, but many times you aren’t really learning, just memorizing and regurgitating the information on the tests, and forgetting it later. AP Classes force you to change this thinking. Because of the AP tests at the end of the year, you must remember the information you learn in class until the end of the year. The focus of school is to help you learn, not for you to memorize and forget information you learn. It is also not for you to sit back and play Spokes while the teacher isn’t looking. In AP classes, you don’t have time to play games and mess around. If you do, you’ll pay the price with your AP test and grade. This forces kids to rise to the challenge and have high expectations of themselves. There isn’t time for laziness or sloppiness. Taking harder classes instead of easier ones is also very beneficial outside of school. It helps students become more competitive and read for the real world. The real world is very competitive and harsh, and they won’t baby you if you do a good job. I’m speaking from personal experience here, but taking easy classes will lower your own expectations of yourself and make you want to take the easy way out. In short, taking tougher classes prepares you for life outside of school, makes you rise to the challenge and have high expectations of yourself, and helps you be more competitive in the real world. Taking the harder class prepares you for college, and is obviously the better choice of the two.

  10. kopp3759@students.d211.org' Katie Kopp says:

    I believe that completing easy courses and getting good grades is the correct way to complete high school. Students believe that they are more likely to get accepted to college if their transcript is filled with a bunch of AP and accelerated classes. Although, if they have C’s in a bunch of AP and accelerated classes, it makes it seem like they are trying to hard to look good but are just struggling and not grasping the concept. It is better for students to take an easier class that moves slower so they can fully grasp the concept and do well in the class.

  11. grande1667@students.d211.org' Liz Grande says:

    I believe that a student should complete high school with easier classes and higher grades. When a student says the class is easy that means that they understand the material. This means they have fully learned what they need to and when tested on it they would get an A on the test. As where in a more challenging class with more concepts to grasp and things to memorize the student might not be getting all of the material and be struggling to understand the material fully. So then as a result the student wouldn’t be getting those high grades on their tests. That means that their grade in the class would be lower because of the difficulty. Although one may learn more material in a harder class they would not remember it all because there would be so much to learn. I think that one would retain more information in the easier class. Finally, colleges look at grades and GPA when admitting students to their university. If they have those “just average” grades they will look like just another student. If they had those high grades and GPA then they stand out more. So in the long run taking easier classes and getting higher grades will be better for ones future.

  12. Rafidi1554@students.d211.org' Brandon says:

    I believe that it is a much better idea to take more challenging classes and receive lower grades than to take easy classes and get higher grades. To be honest, how much does that good grade really mean if it did not take any effort to get? Taking harder classes helps to build the student’s character. It allows that person to be challenged and pushed to their limit, which is something that everybody is going to experience at one point in their life. One of the most important things in life is the ability to work hard. Without hard work, it is very hard to be successful at whatever that person is doing. Hard work is exactly what advanced classes emphasize throughout the year. Also, it is very true that universities don’t just look at your grades, but also what CLASSES you got those grades in. That is exactly what the weighted GPA takes into account. This GPA tells the college admission offices what type of grades you were able to get in a certain difficulty of classes. Some people say that it is a worse option to take many AP classes because it will cause both GPA’s to drop because of all of the work. That is a pretty big assumption to make, that all students do not have the ability to do well in multiple AP classes. Taking the easy way out by taking simple classes may sound better since the students have more time to do what they want, but it just isn’t the best option. The best way to prepare for the huge workload that everyone will probably experience in college is to start taking high-level classes here in high school.

  13. tednes2791@students.d211.org' Brianna Tednes says:

    I believe that taking the average classes to get the best grade is a better way to go. The harder classes might look better in a transcript, but if you have a poor grade in that class it may not matter that it is an AP class. As Shreenath Patel said, “If you take all AP classes–and like many highschoolers are experiencing, your GPA tanks because of the excessive amount of work required to be in those level courses–you’re not really helping yourself, because you’re not able to put all of your effort into any one class.” All the work required in AP classes is an excessive amount and being involved in more than one or two clubs or sports is extremely hard to keep up with. Being involved in a few clubs or being an athlete of more than one sport is easier to keep up with in average classes and excelling highly instead of struggling to get homework done each night, not including studying for tests. An average class with a high grade and extracurricular activities is a good way to get your GPA to a good point and be well rounded, which is what colleges look for. Not necessarily all AP classes with grades that show the struggle in classes just to have a good looking transcript.

  14. durr6352@students.d211.org' Dee Dee says:

    I believe that high school should be completed with a student taking average classes but excelling in those classes and getting great grades. People think that just because someone is in a regular class, that means that they aren’t challenging themselves. High school requires hardwork no matter if you’re in regular or accelerated classes. It makes perfect sense to get good grades in a regular classes because that will only boost your GPA , and having a consistent GPA is a key when applying to colleges. Just like Shrina said ” If you take all AP classes- and like many highschoolers are experiencing, your GPA tanks because of the excessive amount of work required to be in those level courses- you’re not really helping yourself, because you’re not able to put all your effort into any one class.” Contrary to popular belief, AP classes do not boost your GPA. At the end of the day, most colleges look at your commutative GPA. This means that they don’t care if a student was in honors classes they want to see if the student is a consistent, hard worker and if they have an impressive GPA. If a student gets an A in a regular class and an A in an accelerated class their commutative GPA will be the same. So a student will work so much harder and spend way more time in a an accelerated class when they could get an A in a regular class and have the same grade on their GPA. Just like in baseball, you get hit the ball against the fence or beat out a bunt, but their both hits and both will increase your batting average. It is beneficial to get good grades in average classes because colleges are looking at what kind of student you are based upon your GPA. Also Shrina mentioned “Time is limited so it’s essential to maximize your minutes.” There is so much more to high school than just grades and AP course. There are people to meet, clubs to join, and sports teams to make. Being a three sport athlete, I know high school is much more enjoyable when your involved and too paranoid about grades. Life is too short to be worried about your GPA all the time, high school should be a great time in your life and be experiencing these after school activities, you will learn more than any AP class can teach you. Imagine putting in so much time into an AP class, and only getting a C in that class. You’re GPA will decrease and you might not get into that dream college. Your GPA reflects how hard you work and how much you care about your grades, not if you’re in the hardest classes.

  15. psmoglia@aol.com' Matthew Moglia (mogs) says:

    In my honest belief, I am convinced that taking a more challenging class and receiving an average grade is more valuable to a student. Although I don’t think that a student needs to take an AP class to be aware of how time consuming and challenging their future will be, I believe that the lessons obtained from taking a harder and more challenging course is integral to a student’s future beyond high school. In parallel with this, from an article called Why Is It Important To Take Challenging classes, it is stated that “A rigorous class will help you learn time management and study planning” and also for future purposes, it is said that “College students who have completed two or more AP courses increase to 76% their chances of attaining a Bachelor’s Degree” (Johnson). With this, taking a already rehearsed and organized classroom work ethic learned in taking challenging classes, you are getting a head-start on students that decide to not challenge themselves and create time management and study skills. In whole, I think it is most important to try and take courses in high school that will push you out of your own comfort zone due to the positive chain of events that ensue. If you start in high school, you are obviously more prepared for college, since you are prepared for college, you can surpass the college minimums and set yourself up to attain whichever degree you choose and obviously that aids you in having a sturdy future and only positive outcomes entailing.

    “Why Is It Important to Take Challenging Classes?” Why Is It Important to Take Challenging Classes? N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

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