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The OverWEIGHT of Grades

Ellie Fichtelberg, Chicago, Illinois


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As famous youth American entrepreneur, Walt Disney, once said, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” This inspires children to have many long term hopes and dreams, whether it be creating an art gala or ending world hunger. However, in order to do anything nowadays, we need a college degree, preferably from an Ivy or other high ranked school. To get there, we are trained to be “the best” in our high school class at all costs - sacrificing our social lives, sleep schedule, and any chance of taking a class we actually have interest in. The “geniuses” in our school districts have created a weighted grade system to “inspire” students to keep that desired high GPA. The system, however, brings into question if students are taking courses to challenge themselves, or if they are taking honors, IB and AP classes for the sole purpose of boosting their GPA, raising chances of college acceptance.

The idea of taking a class to enhance your knowledge rather than fulfilling a credit/enhancing a transcript is almost unheard of in the American educational system. On countless occasions, my counselors and classmates have pressured me to rethink my course decisions in order to embellish my resume. Once, I was advised to take a study hall instead of an art class, because even one non-weighted course lowered my GPA from its usual honors track. Despite this, I decided to take the art class. Though I’m not skilled artistically, this art class was something I was interested in and passionate about. The experience I had in that class, from meeting people I normally wouldn’t have to the hands-on experience I gained from creating art, inspired me to take another art class instead of a study hall my sophomore year. As a result, the following year, I had to manage five college level courses, because the two art classes lowered my GPA just enough to unease my counselor. Personally, I value taking a class that makes me think differently than most classes over a class that gives me time to get a head-start on homework. Many people choose the latter, because a study hall does not affect your GPA. While I do not regret my choices in taking on a heavy course load as a result of taking two non-weighted art courses, it is imperative for all classes to have an honors option, or for all schools to implement stress-free classes that will not damage a student’s GPA. The American schooling system needs to make taking non-weighted classes acceptable without a student feeling as though they are “destroying” their GPA.

If keeping an unrealistically high GPA had not been an overhyped idea since grade school, students would have the chance to enroll into classes they are truly interested in. They would be able to learn and experience things from a new perspective, similar to my experience taking art. To allow honors students to take non-weighted courses that interests them, it is imperative they are not placed in a position to choose one class over another, pressured by classmates or counselors. The current limitations placed on students towards taking art and other non-weighted courses have prevented them the opportunity and ability to explore all possible interests, passions, and career paths.

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