At the start of every semester, we constantly strive to get the highest grades in class. Yet how many times have you been disappointed by a lower-than-expected mark on your exams? Or how often have you rushed through assignments in a class you hate just so that you pass? Then the once class is over, you’ve already forgotten half of what you learned and studied.

The problem with students learning within a grading system is the lack of experience with actually implementing what they have learned into everyday life. The mentality of a grading system affect the way we study because we’re worried about getting the credit instead of consuming the knowledge. However, when it comes down to getting a good mark versus having a good learning experience, grades aren’t the testament to success, as this Maclean’s story has shown. As a student and a learner, I’ve come to realize that grades are not even close to being as important as experiencing what I was being taught. While they may seem to be a make-it or break-it deal for any university student, it’s important to remember that you’re paying for the knowledge of your career field, not just grades to pass a course.

Many schools and educators have already started taking a different approach to the grading system and eliminating them to measure their students differently. Inventive approaches like that of Elon Musk who created his own school for his children that removes grade levels so students will all learn evenly at the same time. Other schools in Canada are even trying new techniques to help their students improve in school with constant communication rather than per term report cards. Although these are examples of education systems below the university level, post-secondary students can take similar approaches to change the way they value grades and experiences.

Start by changing your focus on marks. Don’t look at marks as a judgement of how you’ll be passing this class, but see them as a guiding point to how well you’re doing and how much more you’re capable of. Grades shouldn’t have an input on your self-esteem, nor should they define you. Another way of coping with the stress of grades is taking a break to reflect on your work. Take criticism from others and assess where you might have drifted and make changes accordingly. Don’t think about getting the extra credit for correcting your mistakes, but making the adjustments for the sake of learning. Furthermore, don’t take it too personally because everyone gets a bad grade, it takes practice to sharpen up your skills.

Remember, once you’ve finished university, grades won’t matter anymore as your skills become far more important. So why obsess and worry over the fine grain of your marks, when you can learn better by experiencing things outside of a textbook.
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