How much is a GPA worth? Student shares opinion on impact of weighted grades

By Steve Ramsey 2009

Many high schools across the nation have implemented a grading system in which certain classes are worth more on the 4.0 grading scale than others, namely elective courses.

Core classes like English, science and math would be “heavier,” or worth more than electives like music and art. Whether or not a school should have weighted grades is a difficult decision to make. This is a problem for me, and other students like me, because I’m in band and orchestra. Under a curriculum with weighted grades, just being in these elective classes would essentially lower my GPA, even if I earned a high grade.

Some students are just really gifted. Say, for example, there’s a student who is really good at math, so he or she takes an AP math class. He or she obviously has an easy time in this class and gets a good grade. Now, here I am in band, also having a pretty easy time. Of course, there is no AP band for me to take. So this kid is breezing through math while I’m breezing through band, each of us putting forth equal effort.

So what do I do? I get hooked up with private lessons from the trombone professor at UNI. This way, I get much better at the trombone and don’t get bored with just my band music. Now I have to practice at least two hours a day.

I have no doubt that I am now working harder than the math kid. Under a curriculum with weighted grades, do you really think he should get a higher GPA than me simply because I’m in band?

Being in band and orchestra allows me to gain skills that I otherwise wouldn’t get as easily at school. Not only do I improve my skills with my instruments, but I also improve social skills because I have to work with people in ways that I wouldn’t have to in a regular classroom setting.

Each member of the group, whether it’s a small ensemble or a whole concert band, is dependent on everyone else to learn their music. There can be quite a lot of work outside of class. For some students, like myself, there’s also jazz band to learn music for and sometimes pep band during football and basketball seasons. Being in a music class at school also helps you appreciate music and get exposed to other types of music outside of school. I’ve known many kids who continued doing music in college because they liked it so much in high school.

I’m not one those people who would quit band to take an English, math or science class just because I could get a higher GPA. Band is more than just a grade to me.

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