• Maya Hollingsworth

Confessions of a Straight-A Student


My fixation with grades comes from a fear of imperfection; a desire to ‘get it right’. I feel it in my chest while doing my homework, and I hear it in my mind right before I fall asleep. It seems like my life revolves around these percentages. As a straight-A student, I have a few confessions to make.


Confession 1: I depend on my grades

If my grades are doing well, I’m doing well. I let my grades dictate my emotional state all too often. If I get a high test grade back, it feels like I have proven myself to the world, and if I don’t, it’s a different story. Whether it was a final exam or ten-point quiz, a bad grade will upset me somewhere nothing else reaches. Once, in unit three of my chemistry class, I earned the lowest grade I have ever gotten on a test; I closed myself off from my friends for days and cried a lot. I was so devastated; I even lost a one-hundred-eighty day streak I had going on Snapchat.


Confession 2: I don’t do it for me

As much as I would like to believe I am working hard on my studies for my own good and a desire to learn about the many intricacies of the world, I don’t. In school, everything is a must, and it’s hard to work in those conditions. Students learn for exams, not for ourselves.


Confession 3: School is a competition to me

In this education system, competition brings out the worst in people. School teaches students that the only path to success is to be better than our classmates and friends. Do they think they’re raising winners? They are molding their students into bitter, envious young people that do whatever necessary to get ahead.


Confession 4: You don’t have to be smart to get good grades

This one’s simple -- having high grades and being smart are not the same thing. I don’t get A’s because I’m particularly smart. Put in time and know what the teachers want to see. After all, most teachers are only interested in listening to their own words recited back to them.


I have performed my fair share of tantrums stemming from getting a grade back, and in those moments I tell myself certain things to help calm down. I tell myself not to care too much about the wrong things, and that I can’t control the outcome. I can study for hours on end, but I’m not the one grading the test. Hopefully you can take those bits of advice better than I do.


Would I advise against trying to get high grades? Not at all. I have learned about self-motivation and time management along the way. If striving to get the best grades helps you cope or feel more in-control, do it. Maybe, contemplate taking my bits of advice and make sure you’re doing what you're doing for the right reasons.