Why Grades Do Not Determine Your Intelligence

During our college years, stress is peaking and workload is increasing. We become even more focused on the letter stamped on our tests and less aware of the other important aspects of our experience.

Ever since we were little, it seems as if the grades we receive dictate not only our overall performance in a class, but how peers and teachers treat us, or our access to future courses. The pressures of completing work in an efficient time, and doing so well, climbs to all time highs as we begin to push the importance of the grades we receive higher and higher on our list of priorities.

Late night cram sessions for tests or papers or lab reports drain us of energy, and although it seems part of the college aesthetic to claim we are running on caffeine, this combination truly deprives us of our precious sleep and takes a toll on our health.


Of course, it is important to have the drive and desire to attain good grades and do well in classes, but this drive should only go so far. When it gets to the point of having panic attacks over a bad test score or breaking down about a low grade on a paper, it is time to shift the perspective.

Take a step back and realize how little one test grade matters in the grand scheme of things and in the lineage of your life. It is understandably upsetting when continuous days of studying result in a low grade on an exam, and it is understandable if it brings you down for a little bit, but the most important thing to remember is that grades do not define how intelligent you are.

Everyone has areas of study or areas of interest that they excel at, which do not necessarily have to be academic. In our society today, it seems that the accepted norm is that if we do not perform amazingly well in our classes and do not have a seemingly unattainable GPA, then we will be unsuccessful in the future and might as well stop trying to reach for our goals. This needs to be rethought. Our experience in college and years beyond should not be looked at with this narrow vision; that marks on exams are all the only thing that will matter in the end.


In contrast to that accepted belief, what will matter in the end is the bonds you have forged with the people you meet, what matters will be the cherished memories that you’ll have forever. It is the intellectual discussions you will have with people you genuinely like about topics that genuinely spark your interest, and not the assignments you had to force yourself to enjoy. The point of an education is not to rip your hair out over subjects you do not even care about, but the rollercoaster ride of figuring yourself out, learning to understand your passions. When grades begin to dictate your self-worth, the role education is supposed to play begins to diminish and with it, the process of beginning to get to know the real, beautiful, and intelligent version of yourself fades away.

Self-improvement is a valuable journey and learning is a part of that journey. While it is good to have the motivation to work hard, however, it is also important that you are not just going through the motions to attain A, but are fully embracing that process for your own self advancement. Taking classes not because they are an easy A, but because they help to shape what you are truly passionate about. Grades are important, yes, but your own health and self-knowledge are more important. Never let a mere letter on a test measure your level of intellect, for pursuing passions and changing your world with your own self discoveries should be measured in your own happiness, and is most definitely not a class you can get a grade in.