GPA is often perceived as a personal identity

By Divine Hanna

For as long as I can remember, my grade-point average (GPA) has always been a way for me to measure and determine my self-worth. Throughout all of middle and high school, I yearned for academic validation and wasn’t fully content with myself if I didn’t make it on the Honor Roll with all A’s.

In the world of education, grades serve as a fundamental measure of a student’s academic progress and performance. However, it has become more and more common for students to internalize their GPA to define their self-worth. 

A high GPA can be associated with success and intelligence when, in reality, that isn’t always the case. There are many more ways a student can demonstrate intelligence and worth that may not be reflected in their grades.

Students may face external pressure from parents, peers, and teachers, leading them to believe that their worth is dependent on their grades. These expectations don’t benefit students. This often convinces students to focus more on the grades themselves than the material or skills they should be learning.

Fear of failure can also cause students to pursue unattainable standards of perfection in their pursuit of academic excellence. Students may take AP courses they have no interest in to boost their GPA rather than taking the courses they would actually find interesting and benefit from if they were less concerned with grades.  

The pressure to maintain a high GPA can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression, as students constantly strive for perfection. Focusing solely on grades will limit students’ exploration of other passions, talents, and personal growth opportunities that can further their attitude and identity. However, students who tie their identity purely to their GPA will struggle to bounce back from setbacks, and therefore hinder their ability to adapt and persevere in the face of challenges.

In a competitive academic environment like Granada Hills Charter (GHC), which is known for above average test scores and high achieving students, it is extremely common for students to compare their GPA to other students’. Having a lower GPA can ultimately lead to feelings of self-doubt and a lost sense of personal value.  This tendency to define oneself solely based on GPA comes from the belief that academic performance is the main measure of a student’s capabilities and achievements.

Although academic achievement is undoubtedly important, it is essential to encourage students to have a more holistic view of their identities beyond their GPA. Educators, parents, and society as a whole should emphasize the importance of personal growth, resilience, and well-being. 

There are many ways we can value students beyond their GPAs such as their extracurricular involvement including sports, clubs and community service. These activities show students leadership skills and initiative as well as their commitment to community. We can also highlight student creativity and innovation whether this is with art projects or problem-solving skills. There are also students who excel at collaboration and teamwork. Their positive attitudes while achieving a collective goal may not be reflected in a GPA but are important skills for the future.