Face Off: The Grade Debate
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.