Column: Allowing grades, test scores to determine self-worth

130. 368. 15. 369. 1,197. 21. 114.

We measure a lot of things using numbers. Although the numbers you just read may seem random, they represent the amount of money in my bank account, my weight, the number of hours I slept this past week and more. We live in a society where numbers are used to measure the value of people as a whole — for example, those with a large social media following are seen as popular, and those with the highest salaries are the elite. When it comes to tying a numerical value to an individual’s worth, the American school system has proven to be no exception. 

When we first went into quarantine in the spring of 2020, I found myself binge-watching college acceptance videos, SAT score reveals, study routines and more videos of the sort. I began to quickly delve into a world where the college I got into, where I sat at graduation and the friend groups I was in depended on one thing: my intelligence. 

My insecurities about how smart I was slowly began to eat me alive. 

After viewing copious amounts of content centered on academics, I felt inferior. I didn’t believe in my intelligence or skills, and I genuinely believed I was dumb. All because my grades didn’t average out to an A+ or because my previous SAT attempts had fallen below a score of 1500. I let these numbers influence how I viewed myself, and I believed they impacted how others viewed me as well. 

My self-esteem levels were at an all-time low. I didn’t even have the motivation to try and study or raise my scores; it felt as if any effort I gave made no impact. It was all useless. 

It took me years to accept I have more value than my test scores. It took me years to realize that a three-hour test could not accurately measure the full extent of my intelligence. It took me years to look at all the other components of my life that made me myself — not just academic awards or titles. Although grades and scores are important for those planning on furthering their education after high school, they are not the end all be all. Despite the fact that I am not an admissions officer, as a teenager, I can say with the utmost confidence that there’s so much more to life than how you measure academically. 

Everyone is more than a test score, grade point average or any sort of numerical value. Everyone is worth more than a number. Letting scores alter how you view yourself is not worth it. Take it from someone that knows.