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Unpopular Opinion: Good Grades are Important! But just studying is not enough for good grades!



This blog is directed not only to college students, but to every individual who has heard the advice ‘result is not as important as the effort you put in’…. Or …’focus on work and not on results’…or anything similar. Theoretically- true, but practically we all know that result is important, it is what we look for, and what bought us in the workplace in the first place.


So what do we do about it?

Let me use the example of good grades, something every good student desires, whether to learn, to get into good colleges, to get a good job, or even just to please their family.

The first thing that comes to mind is probably- ‘give your 100% to it!’…. ‘Forget everything else and focus all your energy on this’……This approach works. It has worked on a number of toppers of competitive exams. But it works on short term goals- Cracking IITJEE, CAT, Job entrance test, etc. This approach fails in working towards long term goals.


Why? Because long term goals are approached when life is happening. And you cannot, and I would say, SHOULD NOT leave your life behind, or forget your life, to approach your long term goals….. which are probably to get a life of your liking.


An observation:

In my undergraduate, In my first year I was active in extra curricular, and good in academics. One semester I got a little too active outside, and didn’t do as well in academics- got a wake up call- decided to focus all my attention to studies the next semester, and left everything else. Got even worse grades. Upset with the approach not working, got back in extra-curricular in limited amount, and got better grades then anytime before.


With these weird results, I started observing well performing students around me.

The ones involved in things other than academics, (but responsibly), were performing better in academics than those who were not involved in extra-curricular.


Tracing this observation, the conclusions were that spending time in other activities makes us feel the need to spend any remaining time on academics (as they are, at the end, important), and hence intrinsic increasing the appeal of studying in our heads. While when spending ‘all’ of our time in academics, we feel we have studied enough for the day and spend the rest of the time on leisure activates like TV, Netflix, video games for relaxation— and they mostly are more fun than studying hence make academics less appealing to us.

There are a number of benefits of extra-curricular activities. I will not talk about them here. But one of the key side-effect of it is that it makes us more focused on our big-picture goals, maintains its appeal, and avoid the goal becoming ‘boring’ or ‘too much’. It makes us more responsible towards our primary aim.


So for those who want to improve their grades, and want to avoid procrastinating, try committing a part of your time to something other than academics, and see if you start to unintentionally commit the rest of your time to academics.


Author: Prerna Singh, PhD student at Georgia Tech and IIT Gandhinagar alumnus

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