A to F: Our Toxic Relationship with Grades


Samantha Gitlin

For many students, pressure to have good grades in school can become a toxic obsession. Where have we gone wrong?

Samantha Gitlin, Copy Editor

Grades: letters that can change a student’s day, week, and sometimes their life. Some students put such emphasis on grades that it takes over how they think and feel about themselves. However, this lifestyle is not healthy. It can lead to a toxic relationship with school that can be avoidable from the start.

In high school, students feel tremendous pressure about their grades. Grades determine your GPA and often how colleges perceive you. This makes students feel the immense burden of getting the best grades possible to stand out. All of this has caused students to perceive their grades in a distorted manner.

For example, if some students gets anything below a ninety-five on an assignment, they may feel as if they failed. The word “failed” has gone from an F to anything that can bring down the overall GPA. This causes students to feel they need to be perfect on every assignment, when in reality, this is not possible. Students base their self worth on their grades. If they don’t get the grades they want, then they feel they failed themselves.

The word “failed” has gone from an F to anything that can bring down the overall GPA.

According to the University of Michigan, “When students were asked about what they base their self-worth on, more than 80 percent said academic competence.” This sentence would be more okay if students didn’t feel that any grade below an A was failing. 

It makes sense that a student may feel upset about a B when they feel they tried their hardest, but it is not okay to beat yourself up over it. Having this toxic relationship with grades can not only affect your mental health, but also your friendships, other school work, and self-enjoyment. If you never feel happy or content with a grade you earn, then this can cause others to not want to be around you because of the constant sadness. Yes, everyone has the right to feel sad from time to time, but if this feeling is constant over grades that are better than average, it can bring those around you down as well. 

When you receive your next grade other than an A, do not look at it as a failure.  See it as room for improvement. Nobody is perfect and this type of grade perfection cannot be sustained (at least not in a healthy way.) High school is too short to not enjoy! So, stop focusing on the letter and start looking at the good beyond.