This wish from UK's Richard Labunski in The Courier-Journal:
College freshmen will soon be heading to campuses all over the country. It is a time of excitement and anticipation for them and their parents. Unfortunately, many students will focus so much on grades that it will interfere with how much they learn.
As a professor for 25 years at four major universities, I know this from experience: Too many students forget that grades are supposed to reflect what they learn and are not the goal of a college education.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Grades have no impact on what is learned in the class. Whether a professor puts an "A" or a "B" on the grade form at the end of the semester has no effect on how much a student got out of the course.
Almost everybody gets high grades. Because of grade inflation and other factors, students rarely get "C's." You can't tell how much was learned based on the grade.
Focusing on grades means students will study only what will be on exams. This is especially disappointing considering how important college is to their lives and careers and how much worthwhile information is easily available.
Many students will not look at anything that will not be tested, even if it would have taken only a few minutes to explore on the Internet and they find the subject to be interesting. If it's not going to be on the exam, they do not consider reading more about the topic to be a good use of their time.
This means that many students "learn" not for the long-term by challenging themselves and thinking creatively, but instead concentrate on what they know will be tested. The experience of discovering information on their own would have lasted well past college, while dates and lists memorized for exams will soon be forgotten.
Most employers don't care about grades. They want well-rounded graduates who have participated in worthwhile activities, done internships, learned to write well, think critically, and to deal with challenging situations. They also know that grades are often arbitrary and don't usually show what kind of employee the student will be.
Parents put too much stress on their children about grades. They often believe that if their children don't maintain a certain grade-point average, they are not using their time in college wisely. Some parents threaten to cut them off financially if they don't get high grades.
Students under such parental pressure will not choose challenging courses if there is a chance they may earn a "C." If they get a 78 on the mid-term exam, they may drop the course, even though the semester is half over, and take it again just to reduce the risk of a mediocre grade.
Every course, every lecture, every exam is viewed from the perspective of how to get a good grade.
It is true that if a student wants to go to a graduate or professional school or get a scholarship, grades will be important.
But everyone should understand that for the benefits of college to last a lifetime, students must be able to try new things, to challenge themselves, to interact with people from different backgrounds, and to be excited about learning whether or not the material will be on the exam.
Their educational experience would be so much more fulfilling if they realized that the pursuit of grades is not the reason they are in college.