Do students care too much about grades?

At Vernon Hills High School, students care too much about their grades to the point that it is detrimental to their health. Some say that they will sell their souls for extra credit if it means getting a few more points in a class. Is it worth it?

Being a student is not an easy task. You have a lot to think about every single day: Your grades and extracurriculars, what your parents think of your grades and extracurriculars, and what colleges will think of your grades and your extracurriculars. Also, you have to deal with friends, family, part-time jobs, and making time for yourself. With all these factors, it makes sense why we are all stressed out.

In a survey of 414 VHHS students, 55% of respondents said they feel that they are not able to easily balance their school work with other responsibilities. Many students have too many things on their plate, and they feel a high amount of pressure to raise their grades. While students report that they feel pressure from their parents and colleges, the survey showed that students’ biggest source of pressure actually comes from themselves.

This extreme sense of pressure is why nearly 85% of students report that they are upset or disappointed when they get a B or lower on an assignment. If students are not careful, this can become a pattern. Students get a grade that they aren’t happy with, which adds stress. Then, their parents get mad, which adds even more stress. Then, because they are extremely stressed, they might do poorly on other school work or tests. Then, they get a grade that they don’t want. And it continues all over again.

It is totally fine to want amazing grades, but students shouldn’t let their health and wellbeing be the cost. More than 16% of students at VHHS reported that their grades are the most important thing in their life — above their health, well-being, social life, and family. This is not healthy; we need balance.

Too much stress and a lack of balance can negatively affect students’ overall health. According to Ms. Dillon, VHHS Student Assistance Program Coordinator, “Some of the most common symptoms [of this stress] are stomachaches and headaches.”

Students struggling to balance their lives can also experience loss of sleep, loss of appetite or overeating, and anxiety.

Our school should teach us ways we can better balance schoolwork and our outside responsibilities. They could teach us how to prioritize our homework from most important to least important, and good ways to reduce stress. This could happen during workshops that are built into classes (like health, physical education, transition, etc.) or during lunch. This is something that all students would benefit from, it will make our life in the future easier.

Colleges have noticed the stress and are making changes to the application process.  They are trying to do this by taking a more holistic approach when looking at applications.

“That means that they realize students are more than just numbers like, GPA and test scores,” Ms. Bellito, College and Career Counselor, said. “They will factor  in any extenuating circumstances that impacted a student’s performance, really look at your essays, and they may take into consideration activities or part-time jobs.”

Even with support from the school, as students, we need to do some work on our own as well. We need to make wellness a priority over our grades, and sometimes, it will help us de-stress.

“Getting active, going outside, and reducing screen time [helps to de-stress],” Ms. Dillon said.“[Social media] is a way a lot of students de-stress, but it actually increases our stress, too.”

Ultimately, do not put too much on our plates, you don’t have to do everything. It is always ok to take breaks or off day whatever works for you. If you are doing a lot for college take a minute to make sure it is worth it.

“We always talk about balance, obviously we encourage people to get more sleep, but that is difficult when you have a ton of homework and you’re in athletics or you’re in extracurriculars,” Ms. Dillon said. “You don’t have to be involved in everything and take every AP class, you gotta do what works best for you.”