GPA: Grade Point Average OR Gaining Parental Approval?

In light of the national scandal that has recently shone its ugly spotlight on UNC, I believe there is a deeper and more serious issue at hand. For years I have sat on this proverbial soapbox of mine until I can’t take it any more, so here goes…

My oldest son is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. He worked hard,studied hard, and earned his diploma. Please take notice that I’m NOT giving his GPA.

My youngest son is a current student at Wake Forest University. He is working hard, studying hard, and earning his diploma. Please take notice that I’m NOT giving his GPA.

On a personal level, I believe this is a personal issue. It’s like talking about how much you or your spouse make, what you paid for your house, or whatever else…Boundaries, please (if you read my blogs, I believe in boundaries).

Parents, how would you have liked it if YOUR parents had met their friends in a public parking lot and disclosed your GPA almost before asking anything else? Yes, I have had this happen. I’ve also had a parent stop one of my sons in the same parking lot asking what his grade was on a quiz…. Enough already!

Getting back to UNC, I am in no way condoning or defending any of the actions – seemingly over a long period of time – regarding this institution. What I AM concerned about, however, is the mindset of this country that has drastically changed since I was a college student in the 1980’s.

I graduated from WFU in 1984. I worked hard, studied hard, and earned my diploma. And no, I’m NOT giving you my GPA either.

The world we live in today worships the god of grades. It matters not whether the schools are secular, Christian, secondary, or collegiate.

Here’s a quote from a recently posted article regarding the UNC program (I have deleted the expletives, but the content remains the same):

“You know what I think about it all? That’s … awesome. If your school …. offer(s) a … class this easy, you’re an idiot if you DON’T take it. I’m not buying into (the idea) that it’s immoral. That’s like saying, “You get stuck in traffic every day for 30 minutes, but if you take this back road no one knows about, you’ll get there in 10. BUT it’s immoral of you and unfair to the other drivers for you to ‘cheat the system’ like that.” Baloney.”

Before you stand back in shock and awe at this student’s comments, look a little deeper. What’s the underlying message here?

THE MESSAGE IS THAT WE WORSHIP THE GPA AND DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE THE GRADE. WHY? BECAUSE WE AS A SOCIETY SAY IT MATTERS. BOTTOM LINE. And it’s obvious that families, schools, and institutions will pretty much do whatever we can to make the grade because our unspoken belief is that it matters more than anything else. Even if we don’t verbalize it, we are reinforcing this belief by how we as a society reward it.

Before you say this is horrible and immoral, remember that in today’s relativistic society, individuals can determine their own barometer for right and wrong, right? So actions can be rationalized by anyone if there is no anchor for moral absolutes. The standard shifts from one person to another, from one university to another.

Let’s get one thing understood: There’s nothing wrong with a child doing his or her best. THE PROBLEM IS WHEN WE EQUATE THEIR BEST WITH AN “A”. The “A” is to be worshipped. The “A” takes precedence over family time, sibling time, and community time. We are sacrificing far too much on the altar of the “A”.

If they are capable of making the “A”, then be careful that their identity isn’t wrapped up ONLY in performance. We are potentially setting them up for depression, anxiety, and a crisis in self esteem when they don’t make the grade.

Parents, I simply ask these questions:

1. How are you feeding into this mindset?
2. What kind of messages are you sending your kids about GPA?
3. What happens if they DON’T make a grade you believe they should make? How do you
handle it?

– Go to the teacher complaining that it should be an “A”?
– Put pressure on your child to make nothing but an “A”?

4. Does your reaction to anything less than an “A” send a message that you are
disappointed in your child? Does your child PERCEIVE that your love is
conditional on their performance? Remember, it may not be what IS, but what is
PERCEIVED by them.

There are more important and intangible issues that we as parents need to tend to – character, faith, integrity, connectedness. Unlike a transcript, these are things that aren’t measurable on a white page with black ink.

Pray about your family time. Pray about your priorities. Pray about the unspoken or spoken messages that your children receive from you.

Turn your child’s GPA into God’s Parent Appointed. Appointed to do what you are called to do.

And that’s black and white.


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