Grade fixation

An image of woman in the dark drinking from a mug and using her laptop

As we enter the point of the semester where assessments are due, I have found myself experiencing my typical anxiety to obtain the best grades possible.

I have always been a perfectionist when it comes to my grades. I will dwell on them to such an extreme that tears will be shed over a ‘bad’ mark. It has reached the point where I almost believe my academic transcript is intrinsically linked to my level of intelligence which is frankly ridiculous. 

But where exactly does this come from? For me, it is my dream to get into a prestigious university overseas to study my PhD. Hence, this pressure to achieve a certain grade is associated with the hopes to eventually receive a scholarship. I feel each time that I am unable to get an HD that I am becoming further and further away from my dream. I am also propelled by the mentality that to get the most out of my education—of which I am utterly grateful for—I must work as hard as possible. Now, perhaps these are slightly justifiable reasons to aim for a high mark. But the real issues occurs when I’m crying hopelessly over an objectively okay grade. Obviously, this is not right, to link one’s self-worth to one type of performance indicator.

I have one tutor who spoke to us in class about the role of the university and whether we are sometimes so consumed by the desire to get good grades—or even just pass, in some cases—that this fixation overshadows our appreciation of learning. We are so obsessed with adhering to a rubric or learning new theorems that we ultimately dismiss how exciting it is to receive a tertiary education. Fixated on grades, I often forget that my desire to go onto postgraduate study is literally derived from a love of research, a love of study, a love of learning.

So as I submit my first assignments for the year, I am going to attempt to take a moment and appreciate what I love about study in the first place. There is so much knowledge to gain about the world and culture and history from my classes that I want to properly absorb. It certainly beats crying over a 79%.

Tagged in What messes with your head, grades