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How important are grades?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by WyrmDL, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. WyrmDL


    Feb 15, 2008
    Hey TB,

    This has been a topic I've pondered on for years now. I'm a new college student at the moment.

    I have never believed that grades were an essential aspect in education. Perhaps this is my inner soul giving me an excuse for my lack of motivation, or maybe it's my actual philosophy when it comes to the subject; my mind is cluttered, so I might not know for a while.

    However, something inside of my heart is telling me not to worry about getting the best grades possible, and instead look to grow and improve myself in other aspects, say, people skills, networks, experiences, etc.

    Well, I feel like if I keep trying to prove my point, I'm only fabricating a well thought-out excuse for not wanting to work hard to get better grades. I'll admit it; it's partially true, but on the other hand, I still hold my perspective.

    I am a B-average student. Thoughts?
  2. Grades are an indication of how well you can take a test.
    They are NOT an indication of how well you learned the material.
  3. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    Sometimes. That depends on the type of test and the subject matter. Outside of basic courses, examinations in my upper level and graduate courses were always application based, testing how well you synthesized knowledge. Some of them were even open book/internet/whatever because if you couldn't figure out where to find the information and how to apply it to the given topic, you obviously didn't learn anything. For example, one of my current classes the scores on our mid-term ranged from 40-90% and it was an entirely open exam (not open-person though) which included having to look up and analyze papers, do mathematical/structural modeling, etc. In some cases it's just a stress response, but if you're going into a high stress field, how you respond on the exam may be indicative of how you will respond to issues at hand.

    Outside of that, however, when you get into the field, grades are less important. People aren't going to ask for a detailed transcript (or they might) when you're looking for a job, they're going to look for skill sets, ability to apply knowledge, and ability to understand new information. At least that has been my experience.
  4. jokn388


    Apr 11, 2007
    It really matters what field you are in. In computer science projects and homeworks are just as important as your exams.

    "Grades are an indication of how well you can take a test.
    They are NOT an indication of how well you learned the material."

    I don't agree with this. The kids in my classes that do the best on tests truly know the material better than everyone else. I find that statement is used as a cop out for students that didn't bother to learn the material/study.

    EDIT: I didn't answer the question. When looking for a job, the majority of positions had a minimum GPA to apply (usually between 3.0-3.5). But once you were in the door, it did not matter. Each job had their own way to test the candidates, and none involved your GPA. So in my experience, GPA will open up doors, but you need to know your stuff
  5. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Just don't go failing stuff. As long as you have the degree that's all an employer is going to see on your resume.

    If you plan on going to grad school on the other hand that changes things.
  6. Jerose


    Nov 28, 2005
    Syracuse, NY
    I find the classes I learn the most in are the ones with the most undefined tests. It's good when a teacher will teach the information and leave it completely ambiguous as to what information you'll be tested on. It forces you to learn EVERYTHING because you never know what will be on the test. I like it much better than when a teacher is like "well you'll be tested on this topic and this topic, but not this one."
  7. I find statements like that a cop out for people that don't understand the inability of most tests to measure anything other than the ability to memorize. Memorization is not learning.
  8. TallLankyBastyd


    Jan 31, 2007
    Grades mean jack diddly squat! :spit:

    Except for "Fails"... those suckers' will brand you for life! :help:
  9. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    Honestly, in my grumpy old "been there done that eons ago" opinion - you should not even be asking that question.
    Seriously. Don't think about how much grades matter - just assume that they mean everything and do the absolute best you can. No harm will come from that mindset but a LOT may come from assuming that grades mean little.

    "there is no try. Only do"

  10. jokn388


    Apr 11, 2007
    I agree. The class I learned the most from was a class that had 28pages of short answers for the final (about 15 for the midterm). It was absolutely insane how much we had to write in 75 minutes. The idea is that literally everything will be tested, and you better study for all of it. We were not expected to finish, and there was a solid curve since most people finished between 1/2 to 3/4 of the exam.

    I am surprised by how much of that information I still remember because I was forced to learn it all.
  11. I've always hired people that could memorize. It makes running the show a lot easier.
  12. I've found grades are more a measure of work ethic than actual intelligence and comprehension. I know plenty of folks that are mighty good at cramming information for a test only to dump it onto a page the next day and completely forget it. The information doesn't stay with them.

    Conversely, I'm in a class right now that won't pass you unless they are confident you know the subject backwards and forwards since your life and others may depend on it. I've learned more from that class than I have any other I've ever taken.
  13. jokn388


    Apr 11, 2007
    I am just saying that in general the people that do the best on the tests truly know the material the best. And that people who do not do well on the test will blame the test as being worthless sooner than blaming themselves for not taking the time to learn.

    I guess maybe the tests you have taken have been about pure memorization, but that has not been my experience. What field did/are you study/ing? I am curious
  14. I graduated in '84 with a BS in Organizational Communication. Remember - the OP just finished high school and is just starting college. This is the age group I'm addressing.
  15. alapantera


    Mar 22, 2004
    A good grade will help keep the water out of your basement.

  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Huh. I work at a university and we look at grades all the time. In fact, I was on a committee earlier this afternoon that reviewed grades and eliminated some students for eligibility based upon their grades. More and more, employers are asking for transcript related information as well.

    If you ever desire to move into a different school at your university, transfer into a different university, get into grad school, go to some abroad programs, etc. you'll need good grades.

    Do they tell someone how much you learned or how smart you are? No. But they certainly point people to those individuals who work harder, have more potential and have things more together that otherwise.
  17. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    The best way to think about grades is a form of communication between the professor and you. The professor is telling you what he/she thinks of your work. If you have a B average, the profs think you're fine but they're not particularly impressed. As far as learning goes, you should ask yourself what your goals are and what the particular grades you're getting on particular assignments tell you about your progress toward your goals.

    That's as far as grades and you are concerned. As far as grades and the outside world, it really depends on what you want to do. If you want to do anything that requires grad school (including professional schools like law, medicine, business, etc), grades matter A LOT. You will be competing for a limited number of slots with other students and it will be, to a great extent, your grades against theirs. If you are getting a degree in a career-related field like engineering or accounting or education, your grades will matter a lot -- employers will want to know how good of an engineer, etc., you are. Other jobs, like a lot of general business jobs, will not care as much. I majored in theater and my first full-time job was the marketing department of a financial magazine. Nobody asked about my theater grades for that job.
  18. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Q. Do you know what they call the guy who graduated with the worst grades in medical school?
    A. They call him "doctor" just like all his classmates.

    At a certain point, your grades become less of a determinant of your life than some of the other skills you mention (especially people skills). Once you've been in the work world a while, your grades mean a lot less than your work experience.
    But early on, and when you're first getting into the work world - good grades will make it a lot easier to get good work experience :D
  19. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Don't cop out on grades, because how you do one thing is usually how you do all things. Slack in school, good chance you slack at home and at work.

    But, grades are only temporaily important. They are useful for school, and maybe your first job. After that, they are useless. If after 5 years out of school you are still relying on your grades and education to highlight your resume, you are missing work experience and skills.

    Grades are temporary tools to get you to the next step.
    Skills and relationships can be permanent tools to help you with your life.
  20. need4mospd


    Dec 22, 2005
    This should make it really simple for you.

    Grades mean a lot to some people, and not a lot to others. In the end, even if grades only matter to a small minority of people, you'd still be limiting your career opportunities by letting them slide. On the other hand, having really good grades would never realistically limit your career choices through people that grades did not matter.

    There is no real downside to having good grades. It is very possible to network, be social, etc... while maintaining good grades as well. Study groups are a good way to do that. One of my best friends I met in college is 100% responsible for both jobs I've had since graduating. We studied often, as well as taking on the college sports, bars, events, etc... Study groups aren't just for getting good grades!

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