Are Grades Important?

I recently read an article in which the author opined that as a society we are much too grade-obsessed and that grades are not indicative of the real world. The author went on to say that the obsession with grades makes the transition to employment difficult. I disagree.

While grades may not be the best method of determining mastery of a subject, it is what we have today. High school grades, especially grades received in rigorous courses, colleges say are the best indicator of college success. In other words, if you can handle college-level work in high school you will likely pass and graduate from your 4-year college or university.

I will however caution parents and teens with regard to the number of rigorous courses taken in high school. It's unnecessary to take 15 AP courses to impress colleges admissions. For the vast majority of teens, taking an abundance of rigorous courses in high school will likely result in less time available to pursue extracurricular activities, community service, or employment, even if they can somehow earn all A's in those courses. Having good grades is important to show colleges that you can do the work. But it's your activities that show colleges how you fit into the campus community. So don't neglect outside pursuits in favor of an abundance of course rigor.

Grades are also important for the college student since your postgraduate entry-level job offer may reflect your final college GPA. As nice as it may be to think it doesn't matter, in many industries that first entry-level income will set the tone for every job negotiation going forward. Start too low and you'll never catch up to your peers who began with a higher entry-level salary.

As for the "real world" of employment, again I disagree with the author who said that obsession with grades is a hindrance to the transition to employment where you are no longer graded on your performance. Yes, you are. You may not receive a report card, but you do receive a paycheck. That paycheck is an affirmation that you are doing a good job. Many employers also have yearly performance evaluations that may also be tied to the employee's annual salary increase.

In summary, yes, grades are important throughout the school years and beyond.

What's your opinion on the topic? Do grades matter? How do grades affect the future of the student?


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