“Cs get degrees.” It’s a phrase everyone has heard at some point or another, and probably even said. It’s the finals week mantra for college students around the globe. But while it may be true, is average really all we should be aiming for?

People nowadays tend to think that getting straight As requires some sort of special talent, like a photographic memory (or maybe even osmosis?). But that’s not the case – at least, for me, it wasn’t. Growing up, I wasn’t naturally good at math, science, or anything involving lots of reading. When I was young, in fact, I needed extra help with my reading skills, and even speech. But at this young age, the idea of hard work was planted in my brain. My mom and my teachers always told me to work to the best of my ability and, when I was older, all my hard work would pay off. School hasn’t always been a breeze, but it’s something I never gave up on.

I’m not saying that you have to have a 4.0 GPA in order to feel accomplished. What I’m saying is that if you’ve worked hard and persevered even in the face of difficulty, then you have a right to feel proud of yourself. It’s just like playing a sport. You don’t get to be the best just by going to practice and playing the games – you have to go that extra mile, work extra hard. These people, both in sports and in school, have every right to feel validated, like their work means something.

“Cs get degrees” just isn’t the best motivating phrase out there, to say the least. If you truly tried your best, gave it everything you had, and still came out with straight Cs – then good for you. It may have been a struggle, but you didn’t give up, and you should be proud of yourself. However, if you also put in all the same work and dedication and end up graduating with really good grades, only to feel like it was for nothing, like it wasn’t worth it…then this is for you.

Why don’t we strive for greatness anymore? Why do we, as human beings, settle for average? We were made for great things, and for those of you who have gone above and beyond trying to reach your goals, any kind of goal, I applaud you. For wanting to be more than just average, I admire you.

No one has ever explicitly told me that good grades don’t matter; but the general attitude of “What is the minimum amount of work I can do to fulfill a certain requirement?” speaks volumes. We don’t challenge ourselves anymore. We wonder, “Why should I even try?” What ever happened to hard work and dedication? When will we begin to understand that dreams don't work unless you do?

I promise, even though it’s unpleasant, working hard on all those assignments, tests, and projects will pay off for you one day. While GPA is just a number, the work that goes into it can show a lot about a person. If done right, it shows that you’ve aimed for something greater than just average.

My high school’s motto was, “To reach the heights, aim high.” Ever since then, I’ve come to respect people who don’t settle for less than they’re worth. These people set goals and go after them, no matter the cost. One of my goals (one that I share with many people) is to excel in school. And what I want these other people to know is –

Your hard work does matter.