A number doesn’t define your future


Angel Harper

Graduating with a perfect 5.0 GPA is a task many students aim to achieve. However, there are many other activities that are worth pursuing while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Grade point average.

The thing we value most in high school. The thing we work ourselves to death over.

But getting a 5.0 GPA for all four years of high school is not everything. Sure, it’s important, but what are you missing out on just to keep that 2-digit number looking spotless? GPA should not be the only metric of success. It’s not a scale for your self-value. It certainly shouldn’t take priority over sleep, sanity or your health.

So do not give up on other opportunities just to maintain a prized 5.0. It’s not worth it.

I’m not trying to say it isn’t good to aim high and work hard. In fact, it’s the opposite. We should still strive to be better even if the chances are stacked against us. I myself am an overachiever in every aspect of my life. I completely understand what it’s like to live in a grade-oriented society. The people I surround myself with constantly motivate me to do more- to join more clubs, cut back on sleep, get a 98 if last time I got a 97, devote myself completely to my work, to hold myself to standards other people find insane. Every day I find someone who amazes me by what they have accomplished, and that inspires me to push myself even harder.

When friends complain about how they are not going to get into college because they have GPAs that start with the number four, it’s normal to want to do as well as or even better than them.

But what I’ve come to learn is that these slight differences are insignificant in the end. They won’t impact your future as much as they seem to now.

Something my parents often tell me is how high school is barely the starting point of my future. I’ve heard their spiel about how “as you get older you will come to see that this GPA you obsess over now has no importance whatsoever” so many times I can recite it in my sleep.

Take it from a sophomore who will never be able to graduate high school with a perfect 5.0 GPA. The system won’t allow it because I have already taken 4.0 classes. And for quite some time in freshman year, I believed my dreams for the future had been crushed. I had my life planned out, from the classes I would take freshman year to the graduate school I would attend after college, and HISD just swooped in like “nope, not on our watch.” When I learned in cycle two of 9th grade that graduating high school with a true 5.0 started from the summer of 8th grade, I wallowed in self pity for about a month.

However, I now am thankful I didn’t choose to spiral down that path because, when applying for college, all GPAs are considered on an unweighted scale. This means everything is converted into a national standard, which is the 4.0 GPA scale. To ensure you are in the top percentile, maintaining all As is more important than opting to take all 5.0 classes. If anything, getting high As by taking both 5.0 and 4.0 classes looks better than taking all 5.0 classes but potentially getting a B in one of them.

Besides GPA, colleges also look for other factors in well-rounded students, such as clubs, sports, volunteer work and what you are passionate about. Having a dream or goal shows more potential than solely getting good grades. It’s what sets you apart from the hundreds of other students at Bellaire who also achieve all As, some maybe even higher compared to yours.

Choosing to not take a few 5.0 classes so you can pursue what you want, even in a competitive environment like high school, does not put you at a disadvantage. Shaping yourself into your own person shows more independence, risk and individuality than following a regimen of studying for AP classes until the a.m.’s every night.

For the most part, I believe a lot of people want to maintain a 5.0 GPA for four years to become valedictorian.

However, because there is an increasing number of valedictorians every year, becoming one might not set you apart from others. And while being valedictorian is certainly an honor, it’s not a prerequisite for any college.

I don’t believe it’s fair to say those who have a GPA of 5.0 are academically stronger and that those who do not are automatically weaker. But having a 5.0 does give you an advantage. It’s not an easily achieved task, hence many people aim to accomplish it. If you succeed by planning all your high school classes and schedules according to the system, you are automatically grouped in the supreme minority. Yet even students like myself who know graduating with a 5.0 can’t be done continue to strive for the impossible. Trying to graduate with the highest GPA possible is the goal for most who take advanced classes, some just have a greater chance and more favorable circumstances to obtain that goal over others.

High school should be a time of pushing your boundaries, self-discovery and exploring who you are meant to be as a person.This process isn’t meant to be completed by sitting at a desk as soon as you get home with your head buried under a mound of homework for STEM-based classes. I’m all for killing ourselves to achieve something worthwhile, but living in the moment and living for a moment are different concepts. By restricting ourselves from the start to fulfill a goal that does not guarantee success, we live in a premeditated plan instead of a life.

Maybe you believe your calling in life is to graduate high school with a clean 5.0. It’s your choice, and it’s definitely an achievement you can brag about for the rest of your life.

But I am a firm believer that when you invest yourself into something you’re passionate about, the reward will be greater. And sometimes, you can’t simultaneously keep a 5.0 GPA while doing so. Whether or not you want to make that sacrifice is up to you, but I say go for it.

So the next time you want to try something new but are afraid of ruining your GPA, take the chance.

Don’t let yourself reject chances that could lead to so much more by narrowing your focus onto GPA and GPA only.

You may find something you love.

You may not.

But at least you will find out something you never knew about yourself, and to me, that’s worth it.