GPA, test scores are not everything

4.0 on paper

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Many students pursuing higher education stress about pouring overwhelming amounts of time into their GPA and standardized test scores. But a high number in either one of these categories may not be the best indicator of a student’s ability to succeed in higher education. 

With the recent decision for some colleges to make SAT/ACT scores optional, many activists against these standardized tests have supported the decision. But it’s important that the choice in submitting a test score is left intact. 

Determining the value of an individual through the use of a standardized testing measure is not a good indicator of how students have allowed their own experiences to shape their method of learning. 

But these test scores can sometimes offer students a better chance at college admissions if their grades throughout high school were not a strong part of their application.

Standardized tests do not help students grasp abstract topics of a subject. Instead, it creates a class structure that prepares students to memorize testing strategies to achieve a higher score. 

Students do not gain a concrete understanding of abstract ideas that they can apply to other situations. 

While this is not a direct argument against the SAT/ACT system, it still raises the question as to how much impact these tests have on the admissions process for higher education. 

Scoring high on standardized tests is a favorable feat for most colleges but they offer no substance to a student’s potential. Many of these tests can be beaten through a series of test-taking strategies that are not easily accessible to low-income students. 

Withholding test scores then places an emphasis on a student’s GPA. GPA is more accurate in determining how a student is expected to perform in college, but it’s not always perfect. In high school, class time is structured by others: administrators, counselors and the state. 

However, college opens up a whole different array of options and opportunities for students, as they can organize their schedules according to their own lives outside of school. GPA is also highly dependent on outside factors, both in high school and college.

High school is arguably the more important GPA, as it is another, nowadays perhaps the only, indicator for college admissions. This is why it’s preferred that students focus more on their schoolwork, as it is a gauge of performance across years of work, and not measured by performance on one single test.

On the other hand, it’s not always possible for students to focus on their studies. 

In a scenario where a student has to prioritize work or other responsibilities above school, their GPA and test scores may fall behind. But there is always another avenue open for those really wanting to seek higher education: community college. 

While it is looked down upon by some, community colleges are not only becoming more popular but are even more flexible than public or private universities.

They are much cheaper in tuition and can allow students to get ahead in their degree by transferring community college credits into their university degree plan.

No matter how much effort a student pours into trying to beat the numbers and make them shine in their college applications, they are never a gauge for personal success. 

Any student is offered opportunities to succeed without having the best GPA or standardized test score, even if that journey is not as linear as they may have wanted it to be.

JJ Caceres is a political science sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]

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