“Ay masyadong gc, di marunong mag-enjoy sa buhay ‘to.”
“‘Di na kita tatanungin, obvious namang nag-review ka. Memorize mo na lahat eh.”
“Sus, pabibo. Grades lang ‘yan!”
These are just some of the most common lines that grade conscious students normally hear. And yes, I am one and I experience this all the time. I believe these lines are a testament of the rise of smart shaming in the society. The aforementioned lines are like music to our ears, to tell you honestly. The term “Grade Conscious” or “GC” has eventually become our scarlet letter that seems to be wrapped all around our head open for public scrutiny. Frankly, it’s already part of our identity. People think that once you belong to this club, you become that student whose attention is directed exclusively to grades and studies. You are that student who aces everything without breaking a sweat. You are that student who is stereotyped for being anti-social. You have established a reputation that your life revolves around your grades and you get anxious about the thought of getting 85 below. Being grade conscious is like joining a religion that is yet to be entered by the masses. I admit that I am part of that cult. For the record, let me answer those who keep on sneering at GC students like me. No, we don’t know everything and we don’t claim superiority over others. And yes, we still have time to socialize and have fun. And of course, we get to experience difficulties in some lessons too. We are still considered normal students who also commit mistakes and encounter failures. But instead of dwelling on them, we search for ways to gain more knowledge, to learn from our wrongdoings, and to find room for improvement.
The only difference is our standards. What’s enough for others might be insufficient for us. A passing grade for some might be our most dreaded mark. Label us “fishing for compliments” but it’s unlike us to drag ourselves into the incompetence of others. We are always on the hunt for the best. We are afraid of being average. It’s not being papansin, it’s not being pabibo. It’s about striving for the best and adhering to your own standards. I know that some students have diverse thoughts regarding this. Yes, grades are just numerical and abstract representations of your academic efforts and they don’t necessarily measure your intelligence, creativity, and interpersonal skills. And yes, grades don’t guarantee you a brighter future. Your medals and certificates don’t determine success. But I digress. As opposed to majority, I believe that there will always be a correlation among the two. Your progress in one thing can lead to your excellence in the other. Grades can, somehow, tell how far you are willing to risk in order to achieve something. They are a concrete evidence of your consistent labor and discipline hence, they are more than just numbers.
Now you ask me, how much grade conscious is too much grade conscious? When does it become too much? On a personal note, I say as long as you keep everything balanced and your genuine desire is to learn and to give your best, nothing will ever be too much. As long as you don’t step on anyone’s toes just to get ahead, as long as you strive, then it’s fine. After all, focusing on your studies is better than slacking off.
Is it difficult to be GC? Being the quintessential grade conscious student I am, I may say no because it’s innate in me to give my best in what I do. Since then, I’ve always been a studious kid. My level of grade consciousness, however, might be brought by certain circumstances such as being surrounded by competitive individuals for many years or being faced with the high expectations of my teachers. Admit it or not, being GC is not the hardest part. Maintaining your grades and assuring that you get past the cutoff grade is. Going the extra mile and spreading yourself too thin is. Keeping up with the pressure and the expectations from yourself and from your family is. It is draining. It can even lead to burnouts. But how do we keep up? It all comes down to your mental strength. It’s hard to be consistent. It’s hard to stay focused, and with the screwed up education system we have at present, it’s impossible not to be grade conscious. Hence, there’s a need for a motivation. You have to visualize a finish line or a trophy for you to keep on pushing and hustling. You need to keep your eyes on the prize and when you see the result of your hard work, you’ll get motivated to do even better.
Best of You
In this age where people consider it normal to deliberately mock those who are vocal and firm about their beliefs and knowledge, it’s better to stay above it. Don’t ever think that it’s wrong to study hard or it’s wrong to be aware. It’s your duty to educate and motivate yourself and not let anyone tell you otherwise. Turn their annoying edi wow’s to uplifting OMG How?!’s. I kid you not.
Being GC pushes you to your boundaries. It pushes you to your limits and this way, you’ll get to know how far you are willing to go for the things you want. In all honesty, I view school work as challenges that I need to surpass and complete within a given time frame. That’s how I see it. I always find a way to complete them in a systematic way, and there needs to be a step by step process in their completion. And this is what others don’t understand. Regardless of the merit, I always remind myself that learning should be the main priority. Learning is just as important and it goes hand in hand with getting nice grades. This keeps you motivated and competent. It makes you want to strive harder. And if you keep that drive, once you get to college or if you get employed, it’s going to work on your advantage. Your persistence and discipline will save you. You don’t underestimate the power of grades, they can help in your future as well.
When is it inappropriate?
On the downside, if you use your knowledge or intelligence to blatantly display superiority and to belittle others, then it’s high time that you should reevaluate yourself. And if you think that getting into the honors list gives you a sense of entitlement, then settle your personal issues. There are those who deliberately pull other people down just to get forward. And worse, some even cheat their way up. I would rather enjoy my humble achievements than get awarded for something I didn’t work hard for. Academic dishonesty is a whole different story. Going back, instead of being condescending, aspire to be inspiring. Lead by example, you know, if others see that you have this unquenched thirst for knowledge, chances are they will do the same. And also, if you neglect your personal health, sacrifice family time, and ignore your personal recreation just to get that 98, you’re not helping. Stop normalizing and sensationalizing burnouts and toxic practices to get straight A’s. Quit glorifying sleepless nights to ace that exam. You have to rest if you need. Learn how to step back in order to make multiple steps forward. I know the dilemma of wanting to push yourself further and wanting to quit. Just train your mind to see the positive. The glory and prestige goes away with time, but learning does not. I repeat, it’s all about balance. There will always be a healthy and an appropriate method in achieving your aspirations in life.
Being gc isn’t only limited to getting good grades, it’s also about knowing the importance of learning, being competent, and excelling in your own field. It’s also about igniting the fire inside you. There’s more than what meets the eye. I think that’s what people should remember, it’s never wrong to be grade conscious. You just have to know your limits and have the perfect balance of everything. Again, grades measure how willing you are to exert effort on something. And I wish that people regard that value of persistence and labor in their daily lives. That’s all.
Thoughts? Comment down below.