Are we just a number?

The pressure of having a high GPA has detrimental effects on students.

Viviana Rivera

The pressure of having a high GPA has detrimental effects on students.

By Viviana Rivera, Middle College High School

Thousands of colleges, universities, and scholarships look at this small simple number. Every student strives for the elusive 4.0 GPA because colleges look at this. But, have people become so fixated with it that it’s all we see?

Your GPA is one of the most important pieces of your academic life and plays the biggest role in your college application; some colleges even consider this to be the most important factor. 

According to PrepScholar, “Typically a 3.5-4.0 GPA, which means an A- or A average, is expected for admission to top colleges.” 

Freshman Andoe Glaser is already concerned about his GPA.

“I do try to keep my GPA high and college is one of the main reasons because I feel like there is a lot of pressure on your GPA if you want to get into a good college and it is very stressful at times,” said Glaser.

Some have found connections between GPA and stress.

According to the article High GPAs, Low Happiness?, “Although some level of stress can, of course, be motivating or even healthy, chronic stress like what these students describe is very damaging to their developing minds and bodies. A quarter of the students in that study struggle with depression and seven percent had recently cut themselves, which people sometimes do to make emotional pain physical.”

This shows that having a good GPA isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; there is a lot more that goes into it affecting students in a negative way.

Some students don’t try their best in school because that’s not “cool” or they’re scared of being judged and stereotyped.

“For certain people based on their appearance, they look kind of nerdy like the stereotypes. I feel like people think that all they do is think about school. So when you do try and get good grades you get stereotyped in being a nerd,” stated sophomore Emiliano Mendoza.

Have colleges considered students can cheat their way through school in order to keep their GPA looking good? 

Sophomore Saul Nocelotl seems to think this is a sly trick students use to keep their GPA looking flawless. 

Nocelotl said, “I feel like if you have a low GPA they think you slack off a lot, but that’s not the case because there can be someone trying really hard in that class and they still get a bad grade. I feel like GPA and intelligence are two different things because there can be someone who is extremely smart, yet just doesn’t try because there’s a chance they can be going through something. On the other hand, there can be someone who  has a high GPA, but not smart cause all they do is copy someone and cheat their way through school. So I feel like GPA doesn’t define you.”

Biology teacher Ms. Groff doesn’t believe students are defined by their GPA.

“I’ve been a teacher for thirty years. I’ve seen all types of students, I’ve seen students who are 4.0 students. They test well, they know how to play the game and I’ve seen some students who are underachievers who are gifted and talented students who get D’s and F’s. On the board of school they’re not being challenged they refuse to do the work, they refuse to play the game. So I don’t’ think GPA defines who someone is by any means,” she said.

Students aren’t always accurately portrayed based on their GPA because colleges only see the number they have, but don’t see what work or lack thereof goes into it. 

Middle College High School parent Maria Chavira knows her child tries in school and is happy with that. She does not expect her child to have a “perfect” GPA. All she expects is dedication and effort and is content by knowing she is doing so. 

“My daughter is gifted in many different ways. I know there are a lot of struggles within the school that affect her at times, whether it’s homework, a project, or studying for a test. I know she has a lot of priorities and sometimes it gets to her. There have been times where she has fainted because she was sleep-deprived. This is why I don’t put a lot of pressure on her nor do I expect her to have that perfect GPA because I know she is bright and intelligent in her own way, and I don’t want to only see a number she is given when I know she puts a lot of effort and work into the number she gets,” states Mrs. Chavira.

Student Counselor Mrs. Olivos states,  “GPA absolutely does not define you. I feel like that’s one of the biggest things that students feel since I’ve been working here. That is what I see and what I sometimes hear unfortunately and I hate that. I absolutely hate that. It makes me sad that students feel like that at any point. I can say I’ve probably felt like that growing up too, but it makes me sad because I don’t want anyone to feel like that.”

The feeling of having your GPA define you is nothing new. It’s up to you whether you want to let it prove who you are or if you want to show your full potential. 

“A number should not define you. You’re not just a number, you’re a person, you are you and that’s what’s important to me. I care more about your well being as a student rather than a number,” said Mrs. Olivos. 

This story was originally published on The Spellbinder on December 13, 2019.