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The Importance Of Grades

Grades are not the measure of a person nor are they even the sole measure of academic accomplishment. They are only one rather imperfect reflection of how much you have learned in your various courses, say Deese and Deese in their book How to Study and Other Skills for Success in College. "People can learn a great deal and acquire a good education without making high grades, and some students who make straight A's may concentrate so much on getting them that they really miss their education. But grades are one of the concrete and particular things society uses to judge what you are likely to accomplish in the future. They work, however imperfectly."

If you want to go on to graduate or professional school, grades are even more important than you think. The competition among applicants for law school, medical school, veterinary school, graduate business school, and most programs in graduate arts and sciences is formidable. Your college grades will probably be the most important factor in determining whether you are admitted or not.

Experienced admissions officers know that grades predict success in advanced work better than do test scores. Of course, a few people with the right connections or with a great record of achievement in extracurricular affairs will be admitted despite mediocre grades. But that happens less often than you think. The best graduate and professional schools have two to ten times as many applicants as they have spaces. They can afford to take only the best. In many fields, no one with less than a B average is even considered, and some schools seldom admit anyone with less than an A- average.

So, if you plan to go on to advanced studies, you can't afford to dismiss grades as unimportant, even if you have reservations about them, as many of us do.

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