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Professors' Guide(TM) to Getting Good Grades in College
10 Common Myths about
Grades in College
Myth #1: "It's Bad to Be a Grade-Grubber"
We hear the terms all the time: dweeb, nerd, geek. Or worse: butt-kisser, brown-noser, grade-grubber, teacher's pet. All of these names, of course, are used to put down students who are just trying too hard to get good grades—students who are ill-adjusted and undersocialized, and will go to practically any length to get that A. That's why many college students are ashamed to admit they care about grades at all. And why we see such students coming to office hours with their tails between their legs, sheepish about displaying even the slightest interest in grades.
But let's face it, grades are the currency of college. They're the money; they're what counts. No one should feel apologetic about wanting to get good grades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (and hey, these guys would know), a college diploma can cash in at $1 million in increased lifetime income compared with a high school diploma. A high GPA can get you into top professional schools and higher-paying jobs. Just like a high batting average is a sure ticket to a lucrative contract in the major leagues, or an excellent bottom line is a sure route to a large end-of-year bonus for a CEO. Do you ever see baseball players embarrassed by good stats? Could you imagine a CEO apologizing to stockholders for the company's record earnings? So why should you be embarrassed about wanting good grades—the measure of success at your job?
Clearly you have a healthy respect for grades(otherwise you wouldn't be reading this book). And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Indeed, there's something absolutely right with that. So don't let some little voice in your head (or your friend's head) tell you that only geeks and nerds care about grades. That voice could keep you from getting where you want to go. Turn that voice off and stand up for your desire to get good grades.
Myth #2: "Why Try to Get Good Grades? All
I Need Is That Piece of Paper"
Some students enter college caring only about getting the diploma. They figure that grades don't really matter. All they have to do is pass their courses. For them, college is about killing time till they can dress up in their cap and gown and pick up their ticket to those high-paying jobs. Why worry about grades when you can become president of the USA (or candidate for president) with a gentleman's C?
Here's why. Nowadays there are more people out there with a piece of paper than ever before. Not to mention highly skilled workers in places like India to which jobs can be outsourced. So for plenty of employers, a college diploma isn't enough. They want to know your GPA. They want to know that you have good skills and work habits. They want to hire someone who stands out from the pack.
Just aiming for the diploma will take you out of the running for internships, merit-based scholarships, and honors that could dress up your résumé. It will take you out of the running for many postgraduate educational opportunities. More important, you could end up with a diploma and no real skills or knowledge needed for the next step.
But most important, not aiming for good grades—and the success and achievement they reflect—can suck the life out of your college experience. You slog through the courses, never really trying, never really investing the effort that could actually be the enjoyment of taking all those courses. You never find your passion, you never engage in much of anything—for all you care about is the end, the piece of paper.
Myth #3: "College? This Is Going to Be a Cakewalk"
Some of the newest arrivals on campus are certain that college is going to be a breeze. They plan to party all night,play lots of poker, go to football games—and cut classes, skip the reading, leave the papers till the last minute. And still get good grades. After all, these recent-comers pulled straight A's in high school—and easily. And they've heard it doesn't take much effort to get a decent grade in this college. "After all," they think, "how hard could it be—they admitted me!"
But consider the math. Most of the students who go on from high school to college are in the top percentages of their high school class. Take UCLA, where Jeremy went to graduate school. The University of California accepts only students in the top 12 percent of their high school classes. Once these students get to the UC, a full 88 percent of them are going to drop below the rank level they had in high school.
Or consider the fact that most of the freshmen at the UC have never gotten a C in high school, but they are going to be taking college classes in which about 30 or 40 percent of the students will get a C. When you consider these numbers, you see that the odds are against students' being able to achieve the same grade level in college as they did in high school. It's just the math. You won't be able to beat these odds if you come in expecting a cakewalk.
Myth #4: "E Is for Effort"
This is one of the most common of all myths about college grading. That effort counts. It's hard not to fall for this one, because in elementary and secondary school, effort is strongly rewarded. High school grades often take into account how hard a student has worked, how much he or she tried, how much time was put into the task. A high school paper often gets a higher grade just for being longer or for having used more sources. And then there's the good old extra credit, the ultimate expression of the high school equation "more effort = better grade."Professors' Guide(TM) to Getting Good Grades in College. Copyright © by Lynn Jacobs. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.