The Daily Aztec

Good enough is not good enough

'C's get degrees' is a joke, not a roadmap to success

by Sydney Sweeney, Staff Columnist

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Welcome to San Diego State, freshmen, where the days of earning outstanding grades despite academic indolence come to die. In high school, week-old assignments could be hurriedly completed, studying was optional, and if someone ‘forgot’ to do their reading of Hamlet, SparkNotes was a solid stand-in. A GPA good enough for college admissions was attainable with minimum effort. By the time senior year rolled around, students had already heard the adage, “Cs get degrees.” As the first year of college begins, the problematic goal for too many incoming freshmen is no longer to get into school, but to remain mediocre enough to stay.

It is difficult to navigate higher education without a strategy. Few American high school and college students actually go to class for the simple pleasure of learning. Material that is not promised to be on a quiz or exam is considered irrelevant. The effort required to learn something that will not immediately expand or steady a student’s academic opportunity is to be avoided. This “good enough” attitude results in college grads happily accepting their Cs, degrees and the entry-level job offers that follow. Freshmen fall into the trap of treating college as one giant carouse. At SDSU, a school where geography and a booming social scene are more enticing than a COMM 103 textbook, the importance of academic excellence can be easily undermined.

As a high school report card speckled with Cs is unattractive to universities, a college transcript rife with that same letter grade has its own issues. SDSU’s campus impaction affects every freshman. Programs have unique requirements for admission, like a specified minimum GPA and the completion of certain prerequisite courses. The lectures at orientation advise incoming freshman about these standards, but many students are not reminded until they are sophomores, stumbling upon their updated degree evaluations. Receiving a C in just two or three required lower division courses could prevent a student from admission into their major and graduating on time.

While the competition to become a full-fledged major at SDSU intensifies, the internship and job market for undergraduates is increasingly selective. With so many students qualified for work, employers are using not only work experience, but academic transcripts — a complete summary of both grades and academic achievements — to distinguish the good from the excellent. In fact, some establishments refuse to even consider an applicant for hire if their transcripts do not meet a specific minimum GPA. Internships and hands-on learning before graduation are key in landing a full-time job. Subpar or exceptional grades in the early years of college can affect that.

Do not treat the expression, “Cs get degrees” like dogma. The pursuit of academic averageness will never be as fulfilling as a genuine pursuit of knowledge. At a liberal arts school, it is possible to feel enlightened every day. It is OK for your brain to absorb facts and details that will not be on the midterm. So, freshmen, as you all sink into your seats and open your textbooks, let the simple hunger and anticipation to learn power you through the next four years. With that mentality, getting fantastic grades is inevitable.

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