More Than Just A Number

Photo from news.psu.edu

Since our high school days, the “College Board” search consisted of inserting our GPA, SAT and ACT scores into a program to see where we stack up in the grand scheme of young adults all vying for a spot at the school of our dreams. Anxious thoughts plagued everyone, from the underachiever to the valedictorian themselves.

It becomes easy to get caught up in. Email notifications reminding us, glaring digits on Canvas displaying not only the work we have done, but where we stood compared to everyone else. With tens of thousands of students on main campus alone, what should be an education of personal growth and experiences can start to feel like a numbers game.

It is important to let go of that decimal falling anywhere between a two and a four. We are here to learn and progress undoubtedly, and good marks should always be an indicator of hard work, but we are more than just that.

From the student athlete doing overtime in the sport that drives them, the ROTC member waking up before 5 a.m. to one day serve and graduate from the largest program of its kind, to the person working two shifts downtown in order to pay for classes. From the editors and writers of this very publication, as well as the countless other club organizers that take time out of their days to build communities within the gargantuan social discourse that is the Penn State student body — it is not just CAS 100 and ENGL 15.

Looking Around You

First choice or safety school, in the end we are all here and should take advantage of it every day possible. This may going to one of the many events hosted by the College of Liberal Arts, delving into all sorts of academic discussions from decolonization in the Middle East, to working as a sports journalist for ESPN. The events are almost always free, filled with intimate thoughts and expressions from top colleagues, and sometimes even provided with free lunch.

THON at this point is practically ubiquitous with Penn State. In its 46 years of running, students have helped raise $157 million in donations to help fight childhood cancer, and on average, work 15 hours a week prepping for the massive undertaking. It is unparalleled by any other collegiate event and there’s good reason why students work so hard for a spot on the executive board to help make it happen.

Stepping Back

It is important to realize that there are only so many things we can control one day at a time. If the pressures of looming deadlines and job applications are digging in, try to make a list of how you can break down those goals and make it time manageable. The simple act of checking off a desired task is enough of an endorphin-induced rush to keep going. You do not have to complete everything in one day, rather, will find that as you take steps, the rest will naturally follow.

Understand that in some way, shape or form, you are talented and deserving of the spot you currently hold within the university. The acceptance letter would not have come if you weren’t. As the sun sets earlier due to the end of daylight savings, our days can begin to feel more rushed. Just stay focused and patient in what you can achieve at the current moment.

As time goes by, we’ll learn to realize that a grade we received at age 22 is far from the end of our learning experiences on this planet, and that goes for our last failed attempt, too. Your worth is never measured by your GPA, weighted or unweighted, honors or not.

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