Your GPA isn’t a PSA

Students today are increasingly vocal about their personal grades, which is, in my opinion, an underlying issue in school society.


To begin with, sharing grades has never been particularly encouraged by anyone. In fact, most teachers urge that students keep their grades to themselves. To an extent, grades are viewed as something relatively personal. 


People often argue that grades aren’t an accurate representation of one’s self worth, and rather a display of how well one can regurgitate learned information back onto a test or quiz. Despite this, high grades are generally connotated with overall intelligence. It’s no surprise that some students are uncomfortable with sharing their scores for this reason; nobody wants to be regarded as less intelligent by their peers. Studies show that student self esteem can drastically alter based on academic performance, and further influence academic performance in the future. This article from “The Medium” that show motivation is directly correlated with academic performance and vice versa, further proving the negative influences of demotivation and learning. Feeling demotivated due to grades is a slippery slope that only gets worse.


On the other hand, some students are extremely vocal about their academic achievements, boasting and even rubbing their good grades in other student’s faces. The majority of high school students generally are open about their scores: If someone asks “Hey, what did you get on that test?” It’s rare in my experience that they don’t tell you their grade. As innocent as grade sharing seems to students, I believe there are some negative effects that are resultant of how casually grades are shared.

It’s already dreadful for students when their parents compare them to their classmates. The sharing of grades is essentially the exact same feeling, only an immediate punch in the gut. “Your score is lower than your friend’s? Idiot.” These are the kind of thoughts that plague the minds of countless students who feel they’re not smart enough. Ultimately, it is safe to say that feeling intellectually inferior isn’t something that should thrive in student’s minds. Here lies the main issue with sharing grades: It (potentially) makes someone feel inferior.


People who openly share grades also set a dangerous precedent for students. Generally, this practice encourages students to compete with their peers, which generally isn’t a bad thing. But as stated above, this can be extremely discouraging when you don’t perform as well. This interaction may further make it hard for students to open up to each other, or engage themselves class out of fear of being “too stupid”.


Ironically, the opposite can happen, as students who are extremely open about their grades may develop a habit of being overtly open. This can arguably cause talkative students to be extremely disruptive as grades are being passed out, and furthermore be a general classroom distraction. Personally, I find people who are incredibly verbal about their accomplishments to the point of telling the whole classroom about their grades extremely irritating.


Ultimately I think there are only a few scenarios where students should actively talk about their grades:

  • If a student explicitly asks you for your grade out of curiosity, in which you then assure they won’t get upset over a higher grade
  • If someone asks in the context of attempting to help find where to improve your skills/ study for an upcoming test
  • If a student simply needs to vent about school to a friend, in which they should ask said friend first if it’s okay


Overall, I think the negative consequences of sharing grades openly outweigh the lack of benefits that such an interaction provides.