student life

Why your grades don’t matter

Exam hall
Written by Jenni Brooks

I’m a perfectionist. I always have been. If I don’t get an essay, an article or any other type of assignment exactly right, I am not happy with it. This was to the point that at university, if I got anything below a 2.1, I would beat myself up to the extent that I felt like I had no other choice than to quit my course.

After all, if I couldn’t make the grade, was it even worth bothering?

All or nothing

This all or nothing way of looking at my work has its benefits. For instance, it has made me more determined to succeed. But it also has its draw backs. It has caused me to look at everything I have done in a very black and white way, and by doing so I have missed what is actually good about my work, it is a little bit less than the ideals I have placed in my mind.

I’m not the only person to experience this. When we start at school, we are fed the idea that we should always try our best, and if we try our best we will get good grades. And if we get good grades we’ll get into university. And if we get into university we’ll get a good job and if we get a good job we’ll be a good person for doing everything that was expected of us.


The trouble with this system though is that is that it is very formulaic, and it doesn’t take into account that everyone has different lives, different minds, and different experiences. As a result, if a person isn’t very well suited to this formulaic path of success, they might very well rebel against it. Which is all fine. It is fine to follow your own path, as long as it makes you happy, and you shouldn’t worry about what others think if you do so.

That being said, others might worry too much about what people think, if they stray too far from the path. Like me. I used to be so concerned about what others might think of me, that I used to be terrified to tell people if I ever got a C grade instead of an A, because I was worried that they would think less of me for doing so.

It was only until after I graduated, and actually got a job, that I found out that all the worrying I did over my assignments, wasn’t as important as I thought it was. In the real world, and in a work environment, we aren’t graded. We are just expected to do things to the best of our ability.


In some ways, I found this transition between education, and the work environment was difficult. Knowing that there are no grades at the end of each module to check my progress, meant that I was concerned I wouldn’t try as hard, as I knew that I wasn’t aiming for an A grade. But in most other ways, it took the pressure of, as I realised how much easier life was with knowing that the work environment wasn’t going to Pidgeon-hole me and define my success on a letter.

We, as a society, are much more important than a formulaic view on success. Afterall, success is relative anyway. What might be important to one person may not seem that important to you, but that doesn’t mean its wrong. If we can pave our own paths, instead of worrying about what people think, we can live healthier lives.