Many freshmen have a pre-set list of things they plan to accomplish in their first year of university. Some hope to make friends, some choose to join interesting clubs and societies, while others aim to attain outstanding grade point averages (GPAs), just as they had during high school.
The elusive 4.0, which translates to an A or A+ in most post-secondary institutions, is what everyone wants to see at the end of the semester. There’s a sense of relief in seeing your effort rewarded, but a perfect GPA is challenging to attain—sometimes incredibly difficult. Yet, the level of difficulty of this task is underestimated by many freshmen. University-level course pacing, course load, and style of instruction are entirely different in university as compared to high school. It makes adapting to a new world of learning, and consequently, new grades, all the more difficult.
Ontario suffers from grade inflation in its high schools, where an increasing portion of grades assigned are on the higher end of the spectrum. This occurs largely because high school administrations hope to increase their students’ chances of being admitted to prestigious post-secondary institutions, which are competitive and demand stellar academic records.
In 2018, while evaluating applicants for admission, several Ontarian universities reportedly denied students entry depending on their high schools due to excessively inflated grades. Certain secondary schools are known for grade inflation and have found themselves on a kind of blacklist within higher education.
Due to the gap between the difficulties of high school and university, as well as grade inflation, many freshmen are bound to find disappointment after receiving their first midterm, finding their usual studying methods insufficient for university classes.
Students work tirelessly on their math proofs, or writing the perfect essay, hoping to attain a degree with bold letters reading “distinction” at the end of their undergraduate studies. While caring for education is essential in ensuring a stable and proud future, school should not come at the expense of your mental health. It should not evoke severe anxiety or self-depreciation.
Something vitally important to keep in mind is that as a student who has made it to the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), one of three campuses of the world-renowned institution U of T, you have already achieved something magnificent.
Naturally, maintaining respectable grades reinforces the foundation of a successful career, but “respectable” is not defined as having predominantly A’s, but rather a collage of A’s, B’s, and even the occasional C for that one brutal course. Many freshmen scour the depths of the internet for “bird courses” in hopes of getting that A, yet essentially, the pursuit of the perfect grade blinds them to many of the creative and enjoyable opportunities found at university.
The purpose of university life is not to collect pretty letters, but to discover who you are. It is better to have some B’s and C’s and know what you want to do in the future than to have straight A’s but not know the basics of living in our everchanging society.
The stories and experiences you come across in life are the ones that give it meaning, and your life is far too precious to be constrained by a mere number.