Your Key to Success: How Much do Grades Matter?

We all know that getting a failing grade in a few of your classes can lead to you being held back a year in K-12, but how much do they really matter, especially if you’re regularly passing your classes? Well, they matter quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean you should let those numbers or letters define you either. Keep these facts in mind throughout K-12 as well as college.

Your grades matter regardless of what class you take

Flickr User tanjila ahmed

So, How Much Do Grades Matter Really?

Grades matter quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean they have to define you or even your intelligence. They simply give a good reference point for your skills. The most important thing is that you try. You don’t necessarily have to earn straight A’s or a 4.0, but they are used by schools and colleges to determine where you should be placed in classes and whether or not you’re accepted by the college.

They Become More Important as Time Goes On

It’s also worth noting that grades become more important as you continue your education. A C in Math in 3rd grade probably won’t have a major impact on your high school experience, but later K-12 grades can affect where you are placed.

For example, getting B’s and A’s in 5th grade can lead to advanced or honors classes in middle school, and then advanced classes in high school. High grades in high school can open the door to more possibilities after graduation.

Talk to Your Guidance Counselor About Your Abilities

That doesn’t mean to say that if you weren’t in honors classes at the end of elementary school, you’re out of luck. If you feel you’re outpacing the classes you are in, you can talk to your guidance counselor about replacement into more advanced courses.

The same goes for if you’re struggling in honors classes. If you are having a hard time keeping up, you want to talk to your teacher and counselor as soon as possible so you can be placed in the appropriate class. Trying to tough it out can have negative consequences for your grades.

Why Are Grades Important?

We touched on this a little bit earlier, but it’s important to understand why grades are important, even if they don’t necessarily define you.

First, they will dictate the classes you’re placed in and the opportunities you have for electives in high school. If your grades are lacking, you likely won’t be able to take many AP or college-level courses in 9th through 12th grade.

And if you are trying to get into a competitive college, lower grades and a lack of high-level courses could very well impact your chances of getting that acceptance letter. This, in turn, could affect your career options, major, and other aspects of your life and education.

There are also scholarships and grants to think about. Merit-based awards require you to earn a certain GPA to be eligible. If your GPA is lower than you’re capable of, you could miss out on some quick and easy cash for college!

Not Caring About Your Grades Can Be Stressful

While your grades don’t define you as a person, putting in half effort throughout your K-12 education can be stressful. It’s all about your mindset. The grades not defining you doesn’t mean they’re not important! Failing to do your best in your classes can be stressful later on in life and especially during college application season if you’re aiming to get into a more competitive school.

How Can You Raise Your Grades?

All students learn and test differently – and teachers all teach differently. You might do well in 9th-grade English, but be struggling in 11th grade. Grades can sometimes give a false picture of where your skills lie.

However, that doesn’t mean that because you’re failing to flourish in your 10th-grade math class, you should just accept that the class’s approach doesn’t work for you and give up. There are plenty of ways you can improve your skills and raise your grades outside the classroom.

Studying is a good start, but you can also take advantage of other resources and approaches including:

  • Finding a study group with classmates or friends
  • Working with a tutor
  • Asking your parents for help
  • Using free online resources such as videos on YouTube or Khan Academy
  • Be more active in class
  • Ask the teacher for assistance
  • Take breaks during your studying

If you are having a hard time in the classroom and the teacher isn’t offering much in the way of help, talk to your guidance counselor as soon as possible for advice. Waiting can mean your grade can’t be salvaged.

Do Grades Matter in College?

Yes! Grades matter in college. For one, if your grades are consistently lower and not meeting the academic standards of the school, you may be put on a probationary period. If your grades do not improve the following semester, you could even be dismissed from school.

You can use many of the recommended steps above to raise your grades in college. Students should also talk to their academic advisor if they’re at risk of getting put on probation or being dismissed from school. They can often work with you to find avenues to staying on at the college and ways to improve your grades you may not have thought of. They completely understand that life happens and are there to assist you.

Grades by no means define a student, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t very important. They can influence your class, college, scholarship, and career opportunities. Using the suggestions listed above though can raise your lower-than-average grades and get you back on track for success.

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