With midterms coming up and a daunting amount of papers and exams being thrown at you, it's really easy to get caught up in the idea that your college grades define you.  However, it's an important lesson to learn, especially in college, that grades aren't even close to the most important thing in your life.  It's okay to not have a perfect 4.0, and one bad grade isn't the end of the world.  Part of growing up and learning to be an independent adult is learning that the letter on a piece of paper doesn't dictate your whole life, and you shouldn't let it.  Here are just a few of the things that are more important than grades:

1. Real-life experience

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When employers look at your resume, your GPA from college won't be the first thing that stands out to them.  They'll be looking for the things that you did outside of school; your internships, the time you spent abroad, etc.  There are some skills that can't be taught in a classroom, and employers will want to see that you've spent time learning them somewhere else.  Having the chance to get out and explore the real world is more important than loading your schedule with three majors and two minors, or some other exhausting combination.

2. Your health

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While it might seem like your grades are life or death, your personal health actually is.  Make sure staying healthy, both physically and mentally, is your priority.  If you need to take a little bit of a grade hit because you are getting seriously sick, it's okay.  If you're worried about your mental state, it's fine to take a break and take care of yourself.  At the end of the day, you can't do your best when you're not feeling your best, and if something is keeping you from doing that, you need to work on getting it out of your life and body.

3. Relationships (friends)


You shouldn't skip your class or stop writing your paper to go out on a date with your new boyfriend.  But, there are going to be times when you really need your friends in your life or they need you.  It's okay to spend a little less time studying and more time listening to them or talking to them.  College relationships are the ones that you take with you way past the day that you graduate, so you need to make sure you nurture your relationships with the people that are going to support you for the rest of your life.

4. Family

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This goes along with friendships.  You need to be there for your family all the time, if someone has a sickness or an issue and needs you there to help, this is important.  Your university will usually understand and help you out in these cases, but don't be afraid to ask for extensions so you don't have to worry about grade hits.  Your family took care of you for the past 18-20 years of your life, make sure you take a little bit of time to take care of them too.

5. Your happiness


If you're stuck in a program that makes you hate going to school everyday but will look great on your transcript, you should definitely not stick with those classes.  You should be on a path that makes you excited to go to class almost every day.  It doesn't matter if you think that the A from your Honors Chemistry class will make you look better to graduate programs, choose the class that you'll be happy in, and a workload that won't burn you out on school.

6. How much you learn


Sometimes a grade doesn't actually reflect how much you felt you learned in a class.  If you took a class that changed your view on something or made you a stronger student, that's way more important than the final grade you got in it.  If you got a bad grade, it doesn't mean that the class was worthless.  Most professors would be happier to hear that you were really impacted by their class than look down and see an A next to your name but never really know if you cared about the material.

7. Relationships with professors 

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Even if you have a bad grade in a class, you can still have a good relationship with the professor. If you go to office hours and you make an attempt to understand the material, you will look way better in the professors' eyes than the kids who don't try at all.  Professors are smart and you're going to want help from them later on, so it's a good idea to make sure they know how much you respect them and their class. The grade won't matter if you form a great relationship with your professor that extends beyond the one class, and you might get a second chance to work together in a different course.

In a completely academic setting, it's hard not to look at grades as the end of the world.  It's all that students and professors talk about, and you're probably not at a point where you can see the larger picture yet.  But it's important to realize that even if all of your grades were taken away today, you'd still have all of these amazing things in your life.  Don't let a letter or a percent sign control your life. Appreciate and nurture all the other aspects, and maybe you'll find yourself feeling happier about the way that you live, and more excited about your years at college.

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