I’ve always done well in school. I was ‘that girl’ in everyone’s elementary school class who got A’s across the board. I would go home after school and work my butt off on my homework (especially presentations, I LOVED presentations). If ‘Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?’ had existed when I was in grade five, you bet I would’ve been up there.
It was at the end of grade eleven that I realized I really wanted to take my drive the student leadership route, so I decided that for grade twelve I would take on the role of student council president, be a part of the School Board’s student senate, plan prom, and maintain a 90 average.
I knew I was going to major in French the following year, so my top six grades to OUAC came from French, English, Philosophy, Foods, Family Studies, and Data Management. ALL THE GOOD GRADES.
I went to class, but I didn’t pay attention because I was event-planning or emailing on my laptop. No big, this stuff is easy. I’ll catch up during my spare.
And of course my teachers noticed. They knew exactly what was up, and they knew I was smart enough to realize that I could put 70% of my energy into extra-curriculars and 30% into my schoolwork and still pull off the average I needed/wanted.
But they warned me: “Don’t get used to these habits, Gillian, you’re doing well now but you can’t do this next year.”
If only I had listened. I did get used to those habits, and here I am writing this blog post during lecture when I should really be listening to what the prof is saying. I’ve consistently maintained that 70:30 energy ratio from high school throughout the three years of university, and while it has most certainly paid off from a leadership standpoint, my marks are significantly lower than they were in high school (they’re not bad, though; we’re talking a 6.4/9 overall GPA).
All of my courses at ULB, where I’m studying on exchange, are evaluated based on presentations and exams at the end of the semester worth 100%. I don’t think I had ever imagined a worse nightmare than this one, and I’m sure a lot of people are with me when I say that this is the absolute WORST thing that could ever happen to a serial procrastinator/unmotivated student.
Sometimes I wonder what my grades would look like if I hadn’t chose the ‘coasting’ route through my academics; if I had chosen to properly balance my commitments and reverse that 70:30 mindset to 30:70. But there’s no use in thinking about the ‘what ifs’; I made a (now I’m realizing) huge decision a few years ago to concentrate on non-academic initiatives and I have to continually push through my lack of academic motivation, that which was soooo not lacking in grades four through ten.
If you’re reading this and you’re still in high school, learn from someone who’s been there. Don’t lose sight of your academics while you’re discovering your potential in the world of student leadership because in the end, your grades are just as (if not more) important than the thickness of your résumé. It’s all about balance.
(And for the record, I didn’t even have fun at prom because I was SO. STRESSED.)