STAFF EDITORIAL: Numbers should not define self worth

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It is important for students to remember that numbers such as GPAs or ACT scores do not define a persons self worth.

Webster Lehmann

It is important for students to remember that numbers such as GPA’s or ACT scores do not define a persons self worth.

In high school numbers seem like they are everything. Likes, retweets, GPAs, sport scores, records, times, SATs, ACTs, and GPAs. It can be easy for one’s sense of self to be simply aggregated down to a series of ones and zeros and percentage points.

Students cannot allow themselves to be defined by numbers. It seems very easy to limit one’s existence down to the amount of likes on the Instagram photo or an SAT score. But to be defined by these numbers is detrimental to the high school experience. It limits creativity,limits individualism, and creates an environment wherein traits not recognized by those numbers aren’t worth much.

Students cannot allow themselves to be defined by numbers.

Likes on social media may value how people look and how many friends someone has, when those things are not important. Firstly, the number of friends that a person has on social media or in real life has little value; when it comes to friendships, it is the quality that matters.

This hyper focus on social media and the greater attention paid to one’s account just makes people more unhappy. A 2013 study from the University of Michigan showed that the more time a person spends on their Facebook account, the more unhappy they become.

In 2014, CNN ran a story detailing a middle school in New York City. Kelly Wallace, the correspondent, interviewed several of the students at this school and almost all of the students talked about the “100 club.” That is the “100 like club,” an honor only given to those who get 100 likes on a photo on Instagram. Students cannot do this. There should be no value in this. Students here cannot do that.

Grades and GPA are important, and students should try in school to earn high grades. But just because someone doesn’t earn an A, doesn’t mean they are a are a B, C, or D,  person failing at life. And just because someone gets an A, it does not mean that they are an A person. Grades represent timely completion of work, meeting or exceeding assignment criteria, or testing well. This is not to diminish those who have high GPAs and try hard in school, but for those that do try hard and the grades do not reflect that, it does not illustrate who they are as a person.

This system is harmful to students as well. The US Education system is now ranked 17th in the world. This has a lot to do with students’ views of themselves based on their grades. A 2002 study from the University of Michigan found that 80% of students base their self worth on their grades. This compounds the problem and creates a negative feedback loop. If a person gets a bad grade once, they are more likely to get a bad grade again, because of that low self esteem. A 2006 King’s College study found that students with low self-esteem perform worse than their students.

The solution to this is not to change the entire US Education system. It is to change the culture at this school. Make sure that students do not feel entirely valued by their grades. The first question after a test should not be:

“What grade did you get on the test?” That is not the point of the test. That is not the point of school. School is not a grade and school is not a GPA. School is about learning and students need to be the ones that champion that.

While numbers can serve as a measuring stick to see where strengths and challenges fall, they do not define a person. They do not make someone good or bad and they should not limit how someone feels about themselves or how someone else thinks about that individual. Students cannot value their peers with these numbers, they most really make an effort to get to know someone and not just value a person by these numbers