Last week, I received my first ever C on a heavily-weighted assignment. At this point, I realize most of you will be groaning and moving on, who wants to hear the goody-good complain about their 3.9 GPA not being a 4.0? I completely understand, and my point here is not to brag. What is my point, you ask? Well, to put it simply, I am noticing more and more that I belong to a dying breed of students who truly care about their education, throughout their education.
You see, when I received that C, I was devastated. And while I was sitting there, supremely disappointed with myself, a friend and classmate came over to check in on how I had done. I reluctantly showed her my paper and she responded in kind by proudly presenting me with her own big red C. I forced a sheepish grin and laughed along as she recited the now-omnipresent adage, “Cs Get Degrees,” pretending like that made it all better. The reality was that I was still disappointed. I went home, read over the professor’s comments, and reviewed my notes for next time (lame, right?). My classmate, on the other hand, went to the movies with some of our other friends and, judging from their Snapchat stories around 1am, that led to the bar and several shots of Cuervo.
Now, let me qualify this by saying there is nothing wrong with going out and having fun—school night or not, we are in the prime of our lives and, hell, if we aren’t going to act like it! Indeed, Reddit and Facebook memes like to make it seem as though you can only choose between two of the crucial three: academics, a social life, and personal health. The truth is, if you find yourself having to choose only two, you just haven’t found the right balance that works for you. Iif social media is any proof, it would seem that we’re not trying half as hard on the former as we appear to be on the latter.
My question is why? We pay thousands of dollars a year to be here, yet we seem increasingly flippant in our regard for academics. Hard work has become taboo, alongside consistent good grades and attendance. It isn’t ‘cool’ to go to class, let alone to be prepared and pay attention. But where has this attitude come from, and when did higher education become such a joke? Last I checked, the library was still full of fourth-years cramming to raise their ailing GPAs just high enough to get accepted into that fateful ‘next step’. Indeed, fourth year would seem to be the only time when working hard becomes ‘the thing to do’. It was the same story in high school, and I see it playing out all around me now that I’m in my own fourth year. Now here’s some food for thought that won’t break the student budget: if you tune out for three years and scrape by with Cs and Ds, how do you expect to pump out straight As and Bs ‘when it actually counts’?
The way I see it, most students work hard in their final year solely because they see no other choice: they have to make something of themselves or else face the abyss. However, until that reality sinks in, it’s happy-go-lucky all the way to the bar. So I ask you, why wait? Why not work a little harder, or a little more consistently, throughout the year so you can reap the rewards later? For some, this message might be coming too little too late, but for those of you living it up in your first and second years: think twice about that third straight night of hitting the clubs and hit the books for a night instead. In the end, balance is the key and the sooner we learn how to manage work and play, the better suited we’ll be for life’s wake-up call that waits eagerly around the corner, ready to smack us square in the face with our C-worthy degrees. All that said, Glendon, my challenge to you is to abandon this apathetic safety net mantra. Or at least to reconsider its truth, and instead say, “Bs Will Succeed.” It might not be as catchy, but it’ll be a heck of a lot more helpful when push comes to shove.