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Jun 16th 2019

Pros and Cons of Being a Straight-A Student

3nd place winner Judith Davis

The term reset has a special meaning to students. It means abandoning the old, harmful habits of procrastination and starting everything from scratch. Throughout my attempts to be a straight-A students, I've been a victim of such absurdity: throwing away my old self to set the foundation of a completely new personality. Students are often guilty of procrastination. They make promises to work harder, but fail on the long run. Then, they reset right before exam week, trying to accomplish the straight As they promised to themselves. Even though the goal of perfect grades can be understood as a positive sign of commitment, it also has a negative effect to the learning process.

I've always felt lucky to be one of the favorite students for my high-school and college teachers. They praised me for being a gifted reader and writer. However, due to my tendencies to procrastinate, I often drifted off the track. I missed entire sessions and then quickly compensated for everything. I'd spend sleepless weeks trying to accumulate all knowledge I missed. And it worked. I would get straight As on papers and exams. Whenever I faced the need to binge-study, I promised to myself that I would start a new chapter “from tomorrow”. This promise triggered a cute process of preparations for a more successful future. I would get a new notebook, a brand new writing kit, and everything else that was supposed to motivate me to study every day. I liked this process, since it reminded me how important studying was. I always considered studying to be a good thing by itself.

However, this enthusiasm for tomorrow's new beginnings always suffered from entropy: clutter slowly took over and I gradually fell back into disorder. When I tried to remind myself why I was doing all this, I thought: “I want straight As. I want to be the best student in class. I want to achieve the best possible results throughout the studies. I'm paying a lot of money for this, so I better prove it's worth it.” I managed to keep the new routine going for a week or two. But after a month, when I looked through this new notebook, I'd notice the aesthetics declining. I no longer bothered with the handwriting and color coding. I just took some notes with a pencil or a pen. At first, I was frustrated with yet another failure. It took me a long time to realize that this decline in discipline was a positive sign. It was liberation from the sterile formalism and a new focus towards essence. Even though I wasn't the most disciplined student in class, I was still learning and that's what matters after all.

Straight As are not an entirely positive thing. An impeccable academic record requires not only discipline, but sacrifices as well. It's impossible for a student to achieve such results without giving up on friendships, relationships, TV shows, and hobbies. Yes; I was gaining a lot of knowledge when I was focused on building the perfect academic record. But that kind of education did not prepare me to face the world. I was isolated in lectures, textbooks, and research. I thought I was more knowledgeable than my peers. But the definitions and classifications in my head did not guarantee wisdom, reason, and decency. That was the greatest disadvantage of having a perfect GPA.

The level of knowledge is not measured in grades. It's measured by an individual's capacity to handle the real world and become successful against all obstacles they face. It's about human survival in an environment full of challenges. Textbooks and exams do not prepare us for the real world. They give us a theoretical foundation, which we would also get with a B or a C as a grade. Straight As require superhuman dedication, which would leave no space for social life and learning outside the textbook's limits. 

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