Written by Sheyla Rodriguez, Junior at CVHS
Two years ago, I was firmly convinced I was expected to be flawless as a straight-A student. I always
perceived it as a straightforward process, pay attention, ask questions, ace the test, get the A. Proficient grades are said to reflect your understanding of the given subject. Whether it is a letter, a percentage, or a rank, students are always graded by what I call the “smartiness scale” Although one should indeed strive for that A, satisfactory grades do not always reflect the student’s good grasp of a subject. Straight A’s do not mean that the student is not lost or struggling. Sometimes they are simply afraid to speak up.
I wholeheartedly believe that every student can pass a subject with the proper amount of support. But
what about those who are seemingly excelling? Are they truly passing? Many straight A’s students are
afraid to admit that they do not know something. Speaking from my own experience, I have always been labeled as the “nerd” and this has pressured me into living up to the title.
Here is the truth, being a straight A’s student does not mean you are truly learning. Indeed, some high
schoolers who are constantly pressured into fulfilling the straight A’s students’ expectations might be
just as lost as students with a C.
Why? There is a clear misconception with the word “learning” where it is replaced with the word
“passing” If you pass your test with a perfect score, it is deemed you learned the content taught in class. But is that true? In a system where failing the tests gets you nowhere, many have realized that if they retain the information for the exam, they will pass. In the long run, the material does not stay. Of
course, some students might not relate to this, but many do. Are they learning? Perhaps, maybe they
are just passing. The usage of the phrase “I passed the class” points to this realization. Students regard classes as chapters in a book, once they read them, some may not care to go back. They store the information long enough to pass the tests and as they enter higher grades this information is somewhat forgotten.
No matter where you stand on the smartiness scale, you are the one aware of your strengths and
talents. Maybe math is hard, but you excel at music, perhaps you bombed that calculus test, but you just had a bad day. Do not feel that you must surpass your teacher’s expectations if you are that straight A’s student. Get rid of that fear of disappointing others if you do not understand something.
Learning is not about earning good grades. Still, I acknowledge how important they are for those who
dream of going to big universities like me. The point is, do not let a letter define you.
Especially during these times, it is 150% okay to feel tired, drained, or unmotivated. Your mental health
and well-being should be at the top of your list. Do not allow stress and expectations to overwhelm you. Do not let the straight A’s or straight C’s define your competence. Ask questions if you have them, say you are lost when that chemistry problem obliterates your brain cells.
AP student or not, A-student or not, we all have our passions, responsibilities, and priorities. If you like
your grade right now, perfect. If you do not, remember that you can change it. Do not exist to please the
smartiness scale. Distinguish learning from passing, learn for the sake of your future and not just to pass one test. Persevere, acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for the career you dream of. In the end, you are the one who chooses to check in with your teacher or counselor, reach out to friends, run a mile, blast some music. You are the one who knows what helps you. Remember that it is okay to not be okay, no matter where you stand in the smartiness scale.