More than just a GPA

MIHS students battle with GPA-related stress throughout the year.

As finals come to an end, stress about grades and GPAs are at an all-time high. Students desperately email their teachers, hoping for bumps or miraculously dropped tests and assignments. A whole year spent studying and losing sleep over mere letters and numbers finally comes to its close.

Obtaining good grades and a high GPA are both important aspects of high school life, but they are not the only ones. The valuable lessons and experiences students accumulate over their high school careers are often overshadowed by the crushing pressure of maintaining good grades and getting into their dream colleges.

GPAs are not defining, grades are not defining, and yet at MIHS it seems like they are. Students, parents and teachers — knowingly or unknowingly — belabor the importance of succeeding in academics, and rightfully so. But how much is too much?

MIHS fosters a very competitive and academically rigorous environment, which encourages students to devote special attention to their grades, yet sometimes this emphasis eclipses what is really important.

Students often feel mediocre because of judgment from their peers, parents and teachers, despite trying their best.

“[My] GPA makes me feel pretty stressed most of the time just because it almost seems like a competition with everybody else in regards [to] how well you do in all your classes and the difficulty of your classes,” Catherine Fosburgh said.  “People talk a lot about weighted GPAs and think down on people who do not take that hard of classes.”

Although school plays a significant role in every student’s life, this does not mean that school should be a student’s whole life. Not only does the detract from other responsibilities, it also creates a high and unhealthy level of stress and insecurity — two difficult feelings that teenagers should not need to deal with.

“I think the pressure definitely affects my stress levels negatively,” Susanna Lepow added.

The downsides of student stress can negatively affect their health both mentally and physically, sleep schedule, and can also put strains on relationships.

“I feel there is a lot of pressure on Mercer Island to obtain a good GPA, and it makes me feel very stressed, especially now at the end of the semester,” Hannah Hardisty said. “I think more about my GPA than what I am actually learning in my classes.”

The culture here at MIHS emphasizes grades and percentages above learning and understanding the actual subject material, in some cases putting more of an importance on regurgitation, which is contradictory to the goals of education and academics.


Less or More

By Maya Virdell


I’m less than your standards

I’m less than a 4.0

I’m less than a perfect score

I’m less than a star student


I’m more than just a GPA

I’m more than a percentage

I’m more than a test grade

I’m more than what college I’m attending

I’m more than how many AP’s I’m taking

Because I’m something much better

I’m a student

I’m a friend

I’m a sibling

I’m an athlete

I’m an artist

I’m a writer

And most of all

I’m me  

Shouldn’t that be enough?


Click here for another insight into the pressures of school and academics in an anonymously written piece: “B stands for Bad.”


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