Are students addicted to good grades?

As the competition to get into college has risen to staggering levels, some students have developed an obsession over creating the perfect resume to get into their dream schools. Whether it be GPA, ACT scores or grades, students develop an addiction to the rigor of their classes and measure their success based on how they perform in school.

With over 30 Advanced Placement (AP) classes available to students at Stevenson, there becomes an obsession to fill up their schedules with as many APs as possible. Increasing course rigor can challenge students to perform better academically, but it also feeds the craze of piling on multiple APs to create the most impressive college resumes.

The open availability of Infinite Campus and every grade that is posted also provides students the opportunity to check their grades any minute of the day. With a mobile and iPad version as well, any device can be used to access, observe and monitor every point added into the gradebook.

Working with teachers and students, Eric Goolish, Positive Coaching Graduate Student, believes that the high expectations presented throughout the atmosphere of Stevenson’s high academia culture is enough to stimulate an unhealthy obsession with the point system and grades.

“Students begin to develop a mentality solely based off of numbers,” Goolish said. “They become obsessed with points and have their motivation for school stem from the accumulation of them and not about learning the information.”

Through motivating themselves to gain as many points as possible on assignments, taking the hardest classes and even prepping endlessly to bump up an ACT  score or to increase their GPA, students become highly aware of the competition that is presented to them in such a highly intelligent and competitive atmosphere such as Stevenson.

In the past few years, many public universities have taken on the “holistic approach” in how they select their applicants to provide an equal and fair chance for each student to be fully evaluated. Universities such as University of California (UC)-Berkeley, along with most of the UC campuses have eliminated all GPA requirements or ACT cutoff scores.

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing was also established to also help improve the admission process for many college applicants. Over 815 colleges and universities have eliminated the use of SAT and ACT scores as a requirement for their incoming freshman since 1985.

Universities that have taken on the more holistic approach or have adopted the Fair Test policy review each applicant  based on their personal and academic circumstances aside from what they have achieved in high school. This approach is used to lessen the emphasis of defining a student’s success solely on test scores and averages and focus on activities outside of school.

“A lot of students think there is a prescribed formula for getting into college,” Principal Troy Gobble said. “But these students are chasing a non-existent stereotype of the ideal student. They formulate these expectations that they think most of these colleges have for them when in reality, they aren’t there.”

Students like Megan Rivkin ’16 feel that being too aware of grades can actually hurt a student’s success. Expressing deep concern with the standards set within Stevenson’s academic atmosphere, Rivkin feels that students’ perspective on their personal success should be analyzed.

“Not living up to this expectation that we build for ourselves really creates a frantic need for us to constantly check our grades and argue with our teachers for every point,” Rivkin said.

With an increased obsession of being the best student possible, goals are set and many begin to believe in the idea that only the A+, 36 ACT score and 5.0 GPA students will succeed in reaching these future goals.  The concern is that this ideal will sabotage many students who begin to consume themselves with this perception of success and a bright future, resulting in increased stress and higher expectations for themselves.

“It’s unfair that it overwhelms you to the point where it ends up having a negative effect on your success as a student,” Rivkin said.