Yesterday, I went out to dinner with a good friend from college. She and I haven’t had the chance to hang out in ages because I’ve been so busy with school. She asked me how I handled it all and I put my head in between my arms and cowered, “I like to get A’s.” Some of my academic colleagues and friends have questioned why I’m striving so hard to keep a 3.95 and it’s for a few reasons.
1. I’m paying approximately 20 grand a year for this degree. What is the use of spending all of that money if I’m not getting something out of it? Especially in this world, where information is so instant, people will call you out immediately if you can’t fire back with a good explanation. That not only weathers your credibility, but the credibility of your program.
2. I’m considering going to back to school to get a Master’s in Information Systems and even though the MPA opens doors for me to be hired by companies that will pay for me to go back to school, I really would like to get a nice scholarship. I found out from one of my friends that the reason why he didn’t have his employer pay for his master’s is because if he would be required to pay taxes on it and instead, chose to fund it himself. Even with knowing that, I still would like to take the tuition remission route because if I can get a scholarship to cut a good chunk of that, then I won’t have to pay a lot back come tax time.
3. I’m not going to lie. I got a 3.06 for undergrad. It’s not because I slacked off, instead, it was a result of spreading myself so thin. I was involved in so many extracurriculars, which included executive board positions, and wasn’t mature enough to find the balance between my leadership positions and academics. It wasn’t until I interned in DC that I figured out how to strike the balance. Even though the GPA is low, I don’t regret one moment because the leadership experience I received got me to where I am now in which I balance a 40 hour internship combined with 12 credits a semester, volunteering in Newark, and yeah…that whole having a life thing.
The three times (ooh, another set of threes) I’ve been embarrassed about my undergraduate GPA was when a political science professor cornered me and sarcastically said in front of the whole class, “and you wanted to be in Pi Sigma Alpha,” which is the political science honor society. I was really mad at the professor at the time for calling me out like that but now I see where he/she was coming from. In the beginning of the semester, I was on fire but towards the middle, I was putting off studying to get used to the campus that I just transferred to, and at the time, making new friends and getting myself involved in new clubs seemed more important than my grades. The professor saw my academic potential go down, knew I was capable of more, and wanted to give me a strong wake up call.
The second time was during graduation and they were announcing the graduates who received all academic honors. While I received departmental honors in my philosophy program, right after the ceremony my father asked me, “why wasn’t your name called? I expected it to be called.” That stung. My father financially supported me through my undergrad and like I said, even though my way worked out in the end, at that moment, I felt like I disappointed him. That’s actually the biggest reason why I strove so hard to succeed in graduate school. I will be receiving full academic honors from Rutgers and when my name is called, I’m not going to feel one ounce of self pride. I’m serious about that. I honestly did it all to make my family proud of me. Even though I did the work, if it wasn’t for my mother and father placing such a precedence on my education, I wouldn’t be here. I know that sounds weird but in the Italian culture we honor the sacrifices of the family before we acknowledge the individual’s.
The third time was applying to graduate school. I ended up getting accepted into all of the schools I wanted to get into but I cringed each time I wrote “3.06” on the applications. I wrote my essays about how my professional experience matured me and I felt that number did not serve as an indicator of my future success in a graduate program.
3.06 will follow me for the rest of my life but it doesn’t define me. It shut some doors but opened others. 3.95 doesn’t define me either, even though I’m happy to have it. They’re just part of the journey, each achieved for their own separate set of reasons. My education professor said that we shouldn’t be satisfied with receiving an education. We should claim our education. I intend on doing just that.
Wow, that got deep. Probably need to lighten the mood somehow. He or she has such big paws!