Teens need to learn to master the ‘game’ of high school


Hannah Young

In the words of Charlie Buxton, “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.”

Hannah Young, Staff Writer

A concentrated chess player studies the game board carefully and calculates her next move. She made foolish mistakes in her amateur days by rushing into action unprepared, but years of experience have established her skills.

She knows the rules, she knows her moves, she knows the game.

Her opponent has taken more lessons, read more books, watched more videos, but she wins because she is a master of the game.

Everyone questions the meaning of life at some point or another. The topic has so often been torn apart in search of deeper understanding that the harsh reality is overlooked. Life is a game. Success is based on mastery of the game.

Getting good grades in school really has less to do with pure intelligence than it has to do with knowing the system. Graduating as valedictorian does not mean you are the smartest, it only means you got the highest GPA in your year.

In a class where 80 percent of your final grade is based on test scores, understanding the material might not be as useful as good test taking skills. What good is knowing the atomic theory inside and out if you fail the test due to a migraine? There is so much that is not calculated into our transcripts that it is impossible to rely upon numbers to represent intelligence or aptitude.

Despite this, good grades are essential for the prestigious university acceptance letters for which many teenagers so desperately wish. In a world where success is mostly measured in yearly income, those who play the game better always win.

Think of your friend who you know will receive more rejection letters than he deserves because his grades aren’t high enough or his essays don’t play up his attributes enough. He might have missed the golden opportunity to buy the best Monopoly property in his sophomore year.

His grades might have dropped the year he started working 20 hours a week. Then he may have compensated for that set back in a way that is outside the college acceptance game rules. His GPA might never have recovered, but he learned so much more about business managing.

Sadly, if he didn’t highlight it enough in his essays, none of it will matter. He might deserve the acceptance more than other kids, but it all comes down to the rules. If his transcript doesn’t fit the game requirements, he is out.

Another master of the game can always take his place.

The average GPA at Harvard University is a 3.67, an A-. Government professor Harvey C. Mansfield said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson, “A little bird has told me that the most frequently given grade at Harvard College right now is an A-. If this is true or nearly true, it represents a failure on the part of this faculty and its leadership to maintain our academic standards.” If high ranking universities are inflating grades, what meaning does a GPA hold? The game is changing, and the masters must conform.

Admissions dean at Swarthmore College Jim Bock said GPA is “artificial.” His college is one of the various across the country that are beginning to disregard GPAs due to the growing popularity in grade inflation. What does a college acceptance mean now? It means nothing more than being able to play the game better than others.

Sometimes you have to take risks and hope for luck. However, planned risks are always better than reckless, desperate gambling. Bobby Fischer, who is considered by many as the greatest chess player of all time, said, “All that matters on the Chessboard is good moves.” The same principle can be applied to any aspect of life. If you cannot bring your qualities to the test, your qualities will never be considered.

The makers of the game are the masters. If you oppose being chained down by the formfitting rules our society depends upon, I challenge you to master the game and change it.