Riley Knouse: Get Past Average

Riley Knouse

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Take a sigh of relief, because finals are over. We are all still here and breathing, alive and well.

Well, mentally fried, but alive nonetheless.

Like countless others, I had spent last week studying. I went over fact patterns, read the entirety of my interactive notebook for physiology, wrote down as many trig formulas as I could in preparation of the final. All the while I was telling myself, “You better not screw up, because you can’t afford it.”

Throughout the semester our teachers have been telling us not to focus on the percent grade, because that will prevent us from truly learning.

How many of us were actually able to do this? Because I wasn’t.

Logically we know that the strain and pressure we put on ourselves isn’t healthy. We tell ourselves that if we don’t get at least a 4.0 GPA, then no college will ever accept us. We are our own worst critics, our own Simon Cowells, if you will.

I’ve had enough of this. I’m tired of trying to force myself to understand something I do not for the sake of learning but for the sake of the grade. I’m tired of feeling like my standards have lowered in terms of grades, and always having a nagging sense of hopelessness because a grade was less than I’d expected. I’m tired of the “I told you so’s” that I’m getting because I chose to take upper level classes and am making myself unstable in the process. I’m tired of the shame that is felt when you have to admit that a harder class is too hard, and isn’t for you.

Foothill, we are better than this. We should be coming out of high school feeling like humans who have learned and have the capacity to continue learning, not robots who listen, cram, vomit facts, and repeat. If you don’t get into your number one school, that’s okay. There are about 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States, so you have options. If you get a grade that you’re unhappy with on an assignment or test, you will survive.

If you are working as hard as you can in a class, then you are doing what you are supposed to do. If you genuinely don’t understand something, ask for help, be it from your teacher or a friend. I will be the first person to tell you that I am terrified of asking a teacher for help, not because they are terrifying people but because for whatever reason, no matter how close I am with the teacher, I feel uncomfortable. It is only when I’m drowning that I go beyond my friends who actually know what they are doing in a class and muster up the courage to go straight to the teacher.

What I’m trying to say is, even if you screw something up in school, you can still be happy. In fact, it’s fixing those screw ups that makes you happy. Killing yourself for that 4.5+ GPA, however, will not make you happy, it will make you go insane.

What do you think?