Removing GPA boost would promote genuine pursuit of knowledge

October 22, 2015 — by Austin Wang

AP/Honors point should be removed to remedy student stress.

Students at the school often sacrifice sleep and sanity in the pursuit of academic excellence, which they measure not in actual knowledge or contentment, but instead by a number like 3.75 or 4.23 or 4.78.

As the thinking goes, the higher, the better, and the GPA number is all that counts.

These students put themselves on the AP or Honors track, forgoing classes they may actually have interest in to take as many GPA-boosting classes as possible. Because of the 1-point grade bump the school offers for AP and honors classes, students often sign up for them mindlessly .

For years, the school has been looking for a way to lower stress among students. They have tried promoting better student-staff relationships, incessantly warning students about stress and overworking, and even teaching students how to meditate. But the only way to effectively reduce student stress comes down to those three magic letters: GPA.

AP and honors classes are the primary cause of student stress as each one can pack in three or more hours of homework per night than a college prep class and involve difficult tests. Too often the workload of these classes leaves students with little time for extracurriculars and even less time for sleep.

If the school were to remove the AP/Honors grade bump, most students would take fewer of them, ultimately leading to more sleep and less stress.

More sleep is essential for student’s health and well-being. A 2014 article from The New York Times said insufficient sleep in teenagers increases the risk of heart diseases, obesity, diabetes and depression. Additionally, removing the grade bump would help lessen the highly competitive environment .

Supporters of the grade boost argue that it is a powerful tool that motivates students and helps them get into college. However, grade bumps only motivate students to take these classes; they do not actually motivate legitimate learning.

Grade bumps actually have a counter-intuitive effect when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge. Students find themselves spending several hours a day studying for subjects they don’t care about, leaving less time for them to focus on their actual passions.

Removing the grade bump weeds out uninterested and unmotivated students, leaving only ones with genuine love for the subject. This promotes a better learning environment where students with similar interests will be put together and can learn from one another, while also helping students focus their attention on the fields they are looking to pursue in the future.

While it may seem that the AP and Honors grade bump is beneficial for college admissions, it isn’t nearly as beneficial as students think. For example, Cupertino High School does not offer a grade bump for AP and Honors classes, but it still has many students attending top colleges.

The truth is, colleges take into account whether  high school weights its students grades, so having the entire school with unweighted grades would render them at the same competitive level. In addition, many schools such as the University of Michigan and Purdue University un-weight the grades of all of students applying, making them equally competitive no matter what their high schools’ policies are.

Colleges, in fact, look for more in a student than GPA alone, and students should internalize that truth to add more color in their lives. Contrary to the popular student mindset, colleges know that a person’s academic ability is determined by far more than a single number, especially at a time when GPAs tend to be inflated.

For many students, removing the GPA bump would effectively set them free to pursue the classes and activities they want to do. The school should consider this change seriously.

1 view this week