We make the grades

Over the course of the week, we will all receive our quarter grades. If you’re at all like me, your parents are surprised that you’ve been offering to bring in the mail these past few days, when really you’re sneaking a look for the thin standard size envelope, with the Harvard-Westlake crest in the corner, addressed to the “Parents of…” We should not have to do this anymore. Our grades should be addressed to us.

It goes without saying that we work extremely hard at this school. We’re the ones who take hard classes, pull successive all-nighters and travel across the region for sporting events. We go to “Les Mis” and orchestra rehearsals. We are the ones who put in the effort; we should receive our own evaluation.

Technically our parents are not obligated to show us our grades. To me, that makes no sense.
Only students completely understand what a grade means to them. Some people get upset if they see only an A-, which is a “good grade,” in a class they think is extremely easy. Another student in the same class is ecstatic about getting a B-, what’s generally considered a “bad grade,” because he thinks that class is extremely hard. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and we all feel differently about our performances in each class. 

If a parent were to judge “good grades” or “bad grades” only based on the letter, they would get the entirely wrong idea. 

Grades are between the teacher and the student, only. The grades evaluate how the individual student performs in that class. It’s useless for us to compare grades amongst ourselves, but I think it is wrong for others to criticize or praise us. 

My parents remind me that they are the ones paying for my education, so they have a right to see how well I’m doing. True, but grades are a poor representation of the progress of our scholarly pursuits. How can a single letter tell our parents how much we’ve learned? It can’t. The closest attempt to that is the teacher comment we receive in the mail.

The education we receive here is so much bigger than a percentage on a test. Our education is reflected in the way we carry ourselves, the questions we ask, the way we think about the world around us and the occasional polysyllabic word that slides easily into our conversations. 

Moreover, my parents did not sign up for my classes; my grades aren’t their responsibility. They, in fact, don’t have a right to judge my performance based on my grades. We, as students, work hard primarily for ourselves. We should be the ones who get to choose whether or not our parents get to see our evaluations.  

In the long run, we don’t care about grades. We’re not going to look back in 20 years and say, “Wow, I got an ‘A’ in AP Chemistry!” or at least, I hope we don’t. 

The only reason we stress about grades is because we think a whole bunch of “A”s on a report card would look really pretty and that colleges will be awed by such beauty.  Percentages and letters aren’t truly important. What’s important is what we gained. What did we learn? 

If you can’t answer that question for yourself, then maybe your parents should talk to you about your grades.