Many students entering graduate school have a great professional and/or academic background. Many were top students in their former classrooms or top professionals in their fields. With that being said, one of the major adjustments one needs to make from professional or academic life to graduate school is the difference between learning and grades (or being “top in the class”).
For the Most Part, Grades don’t Matter
For most of your academic career, you’ve been taught one thing: grades are the most important factor in determining your future. You needed good grades to get into high school, good test scores and grades to get into college, etc. I think that graduate students, however, need to let this belief go and focus on actually learning what is relevant to their passions. The fact that you are in graduate school shows employers that you’re passionate and intelligent – it also sets you apart from a majority of potential employees because you have more than just an undergraduate degree. Furthermore, employers aren’t going to turn you down because you got a “B” in your advanced marketing research and statistics class – the fact that you’ve challenged yourself with classes like that and have done reasonably well is more important.
Learn: Focus on What’s Relevant to Your Passion
This may sound like a no brainer but I know a lot of graduate students that are more focused on cramming and getting a perfect grade instead of really taking the time to understand the material and develop the ability to apply the work in future scenarios. What’s the point of cramming simply to get the highest grade only to forget the material a week later? I really think it is beneficial for graduate students to work on learning and focus less on the actual grade because at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: What did I learn? What can I apply?
Focus on Your Passion, not Your Grades
From my experience, graduate schools structure their programs in ways that deter students from getting all A’s. With that being said, I think it is important to focus on really learning- not only from the course lessons, but also from faculty, staff and students. It’s not about the grades anymore. It’s all about what you know and what you are able to apply.