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Do Grades Really Matter?


If there is one universal truth in the debate over whether or not grades really matter, it is that earning good grades in high school is important especially if you plan to go to college. However, grades are not measure of a person nor are they even the measure of academic accomplishment, it is simply one part of a bigger picture.

But to ease your mind, here are a few circumstances in which grades will matter and when they won’t. 

Situations in which grades matter 

1.To receive a high school diploma and recognition awards

Do Grades Really Matter? 

It is true that grades matter if you want to graduate. However, the level of performance doesn’t require you to have that much when you graduate. To graduate but have passing grades or to graduate with honors is similar in terms of receiving a diploma. What differentiates the two is the level of recognition you receive. Both during primary and secondary years, students are put in an educational institution that ranks students based on their performance in a field of generalized and standardized tests and activities. If you stand out from that population, you receive awards. Although, in retrospective, high school diplomas are not at all relevant depending on the business or profession you want to be in. There will be instances where it is needed, in most cases it isn’t. 

2. To get into any preferred or desired university and colleges without any restrictions

Do Grades Really Matter? 

Some universities and colleges all over the US require a certain quotation to accepting applicants to their institution. For example, in Harvard University, one of the major requirements for the College Board to consider your application is to have a GPA of 4.04 - 4.0 scale. This indicates that freshmen accepted in the university are primarily A-grade students even during their secondary years.  

If you’re interested in attending a specific college or university for your tertiary years you must make sure that you are able to get the level of grade required for you to be admitted.  

However, in some cases, grades are not that relevant in admission to other universities and colleges. For example, Julliard School of the Arts, one of the most pristine performing arts colleges in the country doesn’t require the GPA system. Instead, it holds high and strict requirements in the presentation of talents and skills specifically to the field in which you desire to get into. 

3.To be accepted in the program or field of interest without having to settle for other courses/programs

Do Grades Really Matter? 

There are several cases in which a student dreams of becoming a lawyer, but falls short on their grades so they end up settling for another course that would accept them. It is not only in the law profession that this is prominent but also in medical and engineering ones. To filter out potential students in the respective colleges and universities that cater to such programs, they require an above average grade. In the US, the average grade expected of a high school student who want to take up a medical profession must have at least a 3.85 GPA. Considering that the average GPA is 1.67–2.66, this is quite high for those who aren’t even sure if they want to pursue this line of work. This is when grades matter, when it predicts whether or not you’ll be able to achieve your dream by getting into the program, or not. 

Situations in which grades don’t matter 

1.To get into a college or a university

Do Grades Really Matter? 

There are several colleges and universities that don’t require the submission of high school GPAs. Whether you have a below or just an average GPA, it shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a degree to help you learn more about the profession you desire. According to a report by the USA Today, university and college admission officers barely look at high school grades when accepting applicants.  

2. To work or practice the desired profession

Do Grades Really Matter? 

Grades don’t have that much of an impact when you know what you want to do and how you will get it. Even if there are restrictions, the desire and skills you possess will be your ally, not your GPA.  

Both Steve Jobs, an American entrepreneur and founder of the famous Apple Inc., and Bill Gates, a billionaire business philanthropist and founder of Microsoft Corp., dropped out of college after two years. Although they were special cases - they were already skilled in the realm of technology even before their college years - their performance in college and high school didn’t affect the success they achieved later on in life. It was noted in the late Jobs’ autobiography that in his high school years, he wasn’t one of the top students and was more so focused on literary pieces than of the science and technology field. 

3. To live independently

Do Grades Really Matter? 

Most college graduates who have attained Latin honors and high school graduates who have attained high recognition awards, ended up being someone’s employee. This is because in school, the set-up of an educational institution is highly standardized and generalized that it prohibits a student to go beyond their capabilities and explore their unique abilities.

In the previous example, if Bill Gates wouldn’t have had to suffer for two more years in college to attend classes and participate in campus activities, he wouldn’t have founded Microsoft. These are cases in which schools, colleges and universities in the US are highly institutionalized that those who have attained above average grades end up being robotic and common. Grades don’t matter if you want to live independently and explore your identity to the full extent. 

There are a lot more significant reasons why grades matter and don’t. However, it all depends on the perspective you want to have for your future. If the profession you entail to take up requires an astounding result in your GPA then it does matter. If it isn’t relevant at all, then it doesn’t matter.  

In the end, your success will rely on your desire, will, and passion to pursue something. Whether grades matter or not, success is achieved only if you are willing to give the full extent of what you have to achieve it. 

Grading System in the United States

In the United States, the grading system of letter-based is widely practiced and this is evidently one of the trademarks of the educational institution in the country. Other countries solely rely on numbers and percentages to present the result of a student’s overall performance for accuracy and specificity. However, some schools and colleges also use the Grade Point Average (GPA) system to identify the performance of a student. The table below shows the range of grades in which are applicable those performing above, below, or just average. 

‘Normal’ courses 

Honors/AP courses 



























Academic Guide

Works as Management Team at Our School and Us