By: Hilda Kolawole
What’s your GPA? Class rank, maybe? Does this line of inquiry make you uncomfortable? Like so many students before them current juniors have fallen into a trap set up by counselors, teachers, and even their fellow students. These students spend every waking minute doing school work and their sleep schedule is most likely damaged beyond return. For what? The perfect GPA, junior marshal bragging rights?
Counselors tell students all the time that grades matter and so do other aspects, but rarely do they tell them what those aspects are or how to balance them. Students forget that colleges consider other factors when applying. The sports played, the amount of community service hours earned, the club participation, and SAT and ACT scores. Grades rank as the most arbitrary factor taken into account simply because they differ so greatly from school to school. Some schools differ in grade scale, retake and late work policies and the amount of honors and AP classes they offer which all have impacts on GPA. Students that operate on a year long schedule have longer periods of time to bring up their grades than students that are on a block schedule. A 4.5 GPA from Millbrook High School differs greatly from a 4.5 from Heritage High School, because each school offers different policies regarding grades.
Colleges know that these inconsistencies and differences worry students and they know to look for more when considering an applicant. According to the UNC Chapel Hill Alumni Review, several other factors weigh into college acceptance; participation in school publications, starting a club, being president of a club or class, job experience and other factors. Many students remain unaware that their GPA/class rank does not define them. It’s important for students to shine in other ways. Join clubs, try to be in leadership roles; a factor that colleges find very important. Help out in the community and show colleges that each person matters beyond the numbers.
Colleges look for self-motivated students that use their time to do more than just study. In reality, the more different and unique students appear, the more attractive they are to colleges. According to FamilyEducation, colleges place importance on standardized tests and extracurricular involvement. So next time instead of studying all night for some AP class, remember that at the end of the day grades represent only a small part of the person you are.