Anyone who has attended a high school or college will readily say that one of the most stressful aspects of the entire experience is grades. Students will loose hours of sleep per night poring over textbooks, clutching a pen in one hand and a mug of Starbucks coffee in the other. They soon foster an obsession with achieving and maintaining perfect grades to the point where anything that earns less than "A" is a disgusting failure. The lengths students go to in hopes of attaining good grades is maximal, often including the exchange of cash or sexual favors with their superiors for changed grades! It had been postulated that instructors are more likely to raise the grade of an attractive, tearful student than with the same plea whose looks might not be up to the same standard as their peers (Perlmutter, 2004). But why is there an unhealthy fixation on these letters and point values? Why is the siren's call of the almighty "A" so strong that anything less is a monstrous travesty? On the other end of the spectrum, why is a "D" considered a passing grade when "C" is looked upon as just ok or "average?"
The teachers themselves are even penalized for their methods of grading. Grading Scale 3
Some are attacked for grading too harshly because the school needs to maintain a certain amount of passing students. The teachers are told to change and doctor the grades so that the students will pass (Mehta, 2005)! Oftentimes students will storm their instructor's office at the end of the quarter to ask for extra credit when lost scholarships and credits loom on the horizon (Slay Jr., 2005). Not only this, but many people argue that the grading system itself is unbalanced and they have taken steps to readjust it. Many would assert that grades are necessary for students to produce their best quality work, but I would argue that grades are the cause of unhealthy habits and excessive stress in students. The schools system should find some way of standardizing grades nationwide and dealing with the problem of the sleep (or lack thereof) of their students.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the road to achieving perfect grades is, of course, sleep (or lack thereof). Many high-school and college students burn the midnight oil to finish a three-page paper they've put off or to study for tests they've forgotten about. This starts an ugly chain reaction. The lack of sleep alters their regular sleeping pattern, which causes them to be less alert in class. This lowers their ability to get good grades, which leads to their studying late into the night all over again. Students will combat this cycle by skipping class either on a major exam days or in general to get more sleep, which drags their grades down even lower. Many students will also use drastic measures to stay awake, including Grading Scale 4
illegally buying Ritalin, Aderall, or cocaine for ten to twenty dollars on the "college black market" and snorting them for faster absorption (Ellin,1999). Some schools have proposed methods of dealing with the problem of students missing classes to catch more sleep. The downside to these propositions is that the money is simply not available. It would cost $1.5 million for additional buses and $250,000 a year for additional drivers and staff (Clayton, 1999). Some people argue that if students were given a later start time, they would willingly stay up even later. From personal experience I can debunk this; oftentimes students will go to bed at nine, only to actually fall asleep two hours later due to their unusual sleep cycle! A later start time would greatly help the majority of any high school students, but college students choose their own classes and skip them to acquire more sleep. This is still unacceptable but can be sympathized with, as many college students not only have other classes, but one or two jobs to keep up with their rent and/or tuition....