Editorial | C’s may get degrees, but we still want A’s

Professors who claim grades don’t matter are setting their students up for failure. We understand the purpose of class is to learn, but grades are an integral part in whether we know if we are grasping the material correctly.

Some majors have more of an emphasis on preparing to find a job after undergrad and are geared more toward teaching important skills. Most engineering jobs will not ask for a students transcripts as long their GPA is above a 3.0. For graduating seniors preparing for the workplace, your previous job experience matters more than your grades.

But some teachers forget that for many students, this is not the end of our education. For students preparing for graduate school, law school, medical school or some other form of education, our transcript reflects our successes and failures, and it sets the stage for who we are on an application. 

This is important now more than ever because some programs like Indiana University’s Department of Biology and New York University’s School of Social Work (among many others) no longer require the GRE, making students rely even more on their transcripts when applying for graduate school.

And unlike when applying to undergraduate colleges, there is less room to explain why you received a poor grade in a class. Our grades stand as is for better or for worse.

It’s easy to point to the Ivy League dropouts like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates for their underachievement in school, and their world-changing achievements outside of it, but dropping out of college doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a billionaire, much less does it guarantee success at all. Zuckerberg and Gates are amazing in their own rights, but at the end of the day, they’re exceptions.

Professors need to acknowledge success comes with a balance of good grades and experience. Students on campus are working on research, participating in professional RSOs or working part-time jobs, which allows us space to grow and to find experience outside the walls of the classroom. Students may be focused on attaining an important leadership position to put on their resume while trying to maintain straight A’s in their 17-credit-hour schedule. 

It’s a great thing to strive for excellence, especially in academia. Grades matter beyond just the transcript — they teach us the importance of hard work and set us up for greater ambitions in life.

The Daily Illini Editorial board asks professors don’t belittle the importance of earning strong grades. Plus, the satisfaction of seeing that big, fat “A” on your transcript is something that never gets old.