When you are younger your parents always told you that you needed to get good grades. Maybe you were rewarded for good grades? Maybe you were punished for bad grades? But we all know how important grades are for the average student. Good grades get you into a better school for college and your GPA is something you may need to put on your resume post-graduation to get a job. However, I challenge the assumption that grades are everything in regards to success in school; some things are more important than a 4.0 GPA.

When I was in school I always strove for perfectionism in all of my class assignments. Not only did I try taking some of the hardest classes, I also was only satisfied if I received high grades on every assignment and test so that I could keep my perfect 4.0 GPA. But this perfectionism came at a high price. Because I was so focused on my classes and grades, I failed to make the most of my high school and college experiences. I frequently found myself overly stressing about an upcoming test or essay that would preoccupy my mind and prevent me from attending and enjoying the fun parts of school like football games, school dances, or participating in theatre and other extracurricular activities. I became so focused on a perfect GPA that my GPA became all that mattered—even above actual learning.

It didn't matter to me if I actually learned the content. All I cared about was getting that A. And sometimes this could be done by putting in minimal work. I wasn't learning anything from some of the classes I was taking, but I was getting that A.

At the same time, I missed out on important social interactions that make high school and college so important. Participating in extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities and completing internships are sometimes even more valuable as resume boosters than your GPA is. In fact, most job applications do not even request for you to include your GPA. Instead, they want to know that you have the relevant knowledge and experience necessary to succeed in your position. And this is something that could be extremely lacking for people who only put enough effort in to get an A or to pass the class.

This does not mean that a high GPA is not beneficial. The more effort you put into your learning, the better prepared you will be upon graduation and the more sought after you will be as a job applicant. However, if you focus on grades above all else, you are making a mistake. Internships and real-world experience are just as important, if not more important than a perfect 4.0. As long as you do your best and strive to learn, your GPA should reflect this effort you put in and prepare you to be successful in the field you choose.