Editorial: You are more than a 4.0

Many freshman students have a ready-made list of things they want to accomplish in their freshman year of college. Some hope to make friends, others choose to join interesting clubs and societies, while others aim to achieve excellent grade point averages (GPAs) like they did in high school.

The elusive 4.0, which translates to an A or A+ in most post-secondary institutions, is what everyone wants to see by the end of the semester. It’s a sense of relief when you see your efforts being rewarded, but getting a perfect grade point average is a challenge — sometimes incredibly difficult. However, the degree of difficulty of this task is underestimated by many first-year students. The course pace, course load, and college-level teaching style are vastly different in college than in high school. It is all the more difficult to adapt to a new world of learning and thus to new grades.

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Ontario suffers from grade inflation in its high schools, where an increasing proportion of grades awarded are at the higher end of the spectrum. This is happening largely because college administrations hope to increase their students’ chances of being admitted to prestigious post-secondary institutions that are competitive and demand academic excellence.

In 2018, when evaluating admission applicants, several Ontarian universities reportedly denied admission to students due to excessively inflated grades. Certain secondary schools are notorious for grade inflation and are on some sort of blacklist within higher education.

Due to the gap between high school and college difficulties, as well as grade inflation, many freshmen are bound to be disappointed after their first midterm and find that their usual learning methods are inadequate for college classes.

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Students work tirelessly on their math proofs or write the perfect essay in hopes of earning a degree with “distinctions” in bold at the end of their undergraduate degree. While caring about education is essential to ensuring a stable and proud future, school shouldn’t come at the expense of your mental health. It should not invoke strong fear or self-mockery.

Something to keep in mind is that as a student who made it to the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), one of three campuses of the world-renowned institution U of T, you have already accomplished something great.

Of course, maintaining respectable grades strengthens the foundation of a successful career, but “respectable” isn’t defined as mostly A’s, but rather a collage of A’s, B’s, and even the occasional C for that one brutal course. Many freshmen scour the internet for “bird courses” in hopes of getting an A, but in essence, the pursuit of that perfect grade blinds them to many of the creative and fun opportunities they find at college.

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The purpose of college life is not to collect nice letters but to find out who one is. It’s better to have a few Bs and Cs and know what you want to do in the future than to have just an A but not know the basics of living in our ever-changing society.

The stories and experiences you encounter in life are the ones that give it meaning, and your life is far too precious to be reduced to a mere number.

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