My high school was academically challenging. More importantly though it had both a student body that was highly motivated to learn as well as teachers who were devoted to passing on their passion for knowledge. This created an amazing environment to grow. The school did not calculate GPA. In fact, until maybe half way through high school I solely associated GPA with college. It was partly because my school was Quaker. (I’ll write a post about that later, we weren’t really Quaker, but some of the justifications behind things such as not calculating GPA stemmed from it) Not having GPA helped students focus on learning to enjoy learning.
This was one of the best lessons I gained from my high school. When I got to college I found that it helped me apply myself to my classes, something that some students have a hard time doing. My first semester went phenomenally well academically. I walked away with a 3.94 for my GPA. My parents were proud, but I felt something lacking. Though learning in my classes was mentally stimulating I didn’t feel challenged enough.
To remedy this I became an honor student and signed up for six classes the next semester. There was one other reason to take six classes; because I only have eight semesters at college and I get to learn more if I take more classes. Nonetheless, because I was taking more classes my GPA dropped to a 3.89. Still, despite my GPA showing that I was a poorer student, I felt as though I had made the right decision. Even as my classes became harder through sophomore year I continued to take six.
For fall semester junior year I decided to study abroad. This destroyed my GPA. Literally killed it. It’s not that I wasn’t applying myself to my classes, but they are taught differently in other countries and it took the only semester I had there to adjust to them. I know a lot of schools do not count your study abroad GPA in your cumulative GPA, which I would have preferred. I still would have applied myself to my classes but I would have been able to focus more on other learning that was going on outside my classes. I believe I got a 3.35 for the fall, dropping my cumulative GPA way down to a 3.73.
Throughout college I had always told myself that there would be at least one semester I would get a 4.0. It’s not that GPA is that important to me, but it is a certain goal that I want to reach. I decided it would be last spring semester. This was mainly because senior year I would be taking some easy freshman requirements I had been saving, which I considered cheating. Gearing up for my 6 classes I worked hard. In the end, I did not get it. There is another post about this elsewhere. I got a 3.9.
Perhaps I will get it next semester, but I doubt it. Once again I have decided to sacrifice my GPA for learning. There are two classes that are only taught in the fall that don’t work towards my majors or minor but interest me. I have decided to take seven courses. Admittedly, I might drop one down to an audit or pass/fail. This would just be to give my GPA a little protection because let’s face it, that’s one of the first things someone glances at on my résumé.
Nonetheless, if the negative correlation I feel between my GPA and learning was linear and consistent, I would be failing out of college. On the other hand, isn’t that what Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did anyways?