Every year millions of eager high schoolers complete standardized tests and cram for final exams. An increasingly globalized world has made high school challenging and extremely competitive. The unfortunate side effect of this competition has been the insistence upon the GPA as a unit of measurement, which creates unnecessary stress and anxiety for many children.

In a time when children are facing incredible hormonal changes and emotional turmoil, it’s scary to consider how much added stress comes down to their GPA… especially when it isn’t as important as skills.

Where Did GPA Come From?

In 1785 Yale University, one of the most prestigious in the country, decided to create what we now consider the modern grading system. The graduating seniors were divided into four categories intended to make a comparative assessment rather than an objective one. In other words, the GPA was being used to compare students within a class of a particular school.

If a student received a high grade from Vermont University that may mean less than a low grade from Yale University. It only compared people within a certain university. This is one of the reasons grading (and a GPA) should be a bell curve, but it isn’t.

Grade inflation puts nearly everyone fighting for an A or 4.0 GPA, which means the purpose of the GPA has changed drastically since it was first invented.

Skills Are More Important

An employer is more interested in skills than the GPA. Even if the GPA was measured as it used to be, this is only a secondary measurement of skill. Because high school children spend so much time focused on their GPA and scores, it changes how they learn.

They cram for tests and understand only enough to get good grades (their objective) rather than actually learning the skill.

Not only does this hurt the student in the long term, but it isn’t what employers want. As Sarducci says “In five minutes, you can remember what the average college graduate remembers five years after going to school.”

If a marketing specialist had a 3.0 GPA, but 5 years of experience and work to show for it, that would almost always trump a student who graduated with 4.0 GPA and no applicable skills.

Employers want skills, not a GPA.

How to De-Stress and Focus on Skills

Between this focus on test taking and GPA, most students suffer from test taking anxiety, which is both saddening and preventable. Instead of focusing so much on the grades and exam scores, we should be improving their ability to learn new skills.

Many of these new skills are going to make the biggest difference in the success or failure of these children in the real world. It makes sense to promote those skills rather than the grades especially if it can reduce their burden, improve their emotional wellbeing, and create happier children.

About the Author: Mallory Roane is a writer for Nootropedia, which is a resource for nootropics and cognitive enhancement. She is dedicated to understand smart drugs and their impact on the brain.