The school year is over, and my high school sophomore could not have studied any harder. She took all honors courses with one college credit class to boot. With her incredibly busy schedule filled with 3-hour swim practices six days a week, regular weekend swim meets, working three days a week, and being involved in several ministries, she somehow managed to study hard and get all her assignments in on time.
She would often stay after school for her one free hour a day to get any help she could in her hardest classes. She’s invested in doing her very best and cares deeply about her grades because she knows that the college admission competition is fierce.
She spent hours studying for her final exams, and once the grades came out she felt relieved but also a little disappointed that she didn’t get the grades she worked so hard to earn. I watched her worry, work hard and give one hundred percent of herself all year and despite the fact that my girl didn’t get the GPA she wanted and her final grades didn’t reflect her intense effort, I couldn’t be prouder of her hard work and tenacity.
If High Schools Offered Classes on Character
Schools teach the requisite academics, but they don’t focus on the most important lessons our kids need to learn, the most significant character traits needed for a successful and fulfilling life.
If only my daughter’s grades reflected the valuable qualities I see blooming in her. If only her GPA measured her compassion, resilience, commitment, kindness, and faith, instead of geometry equations, chemistry calculations, or historical facts-most of which she won’t need in her future career.
How about a class on compassion?
If my girl had it her way, she’d be overseas serving poverty-stricken countries, caring for ailing children, or building homes for the homeless. If she could, she’d add even more volunteer hours in her own city, feeding the hungry and giving warm hugs to anyone in need. She has a deep well of compassion that pours out from her heart and she dreams of serving, of giving, of reaching those who need the love and care so desperately missing from their lives. She’d easily earn an A+ in this class.
How about a class on resilience?
My girl never gives up, no matter how hard things get. Spending years in training 3 hours a day, six days a week, would likely produce serious progress, but my girl did not experience that this year. Instead, her swim times in most every meet did not reflect her hard training. No matter how discouraged she was, she kept getting back in that pool to train, she kept trying her best to cut those times. That kind of resilience would surely earn an A+.
How about a class on commitment?
My girl is more committed to her family, her friends, her sport, her school her work, and her ministries, than I ever was at her age. She holds more responsibilities than many adults and I’ve been a proud witness to her managing them all with maturity, accountability, and a ridiculous amount of effort. You should see her exhaustive spreadsheets outlined for it all. She would ace this class with an A+ too.
How about a class on kindness?
My girl’s smile lights up a room. It’s not because of the superficial beauty she exudes, but rather the genuine kindness that radiates from her heart. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love her, because she has a heart for others and gift for making them feel special. She cares about people and has a selfless way of tuning in to their needs. I know my girl would easily earn A+ in this class.
How about a class on integrity?
I’m constantly amazed and pleasantly surprised that my girl is making really good choices in the face of ongoing peer-pressure that tells her to choose otherwise. When it comes to all the destructive decisions teens are faced with these days, my girl seems to be steering herself on a path that holds high expectations and smart priorities. She’s mature enough to understand that there are values she wants to uphold, no matter how unpopular they may be. She’d easily earn an A+ in this class.
There will be many more classes where she will struggle to get good grades, this I know. She will try hard and study relentlessly, perhaps to no avail, but what matters most is her character. And if there were classes that would measure the person she is, the hard working, dedicated, responsible, kind, compassionate, and faithful woman she is growing up to be, those are the grades I would surely celebrate.
Those are the grades that everyone should work hard to accomplish. Because in the end, it’s these traits that will reap the rewards of a lifetime.
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Christine Carter writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. You can also find her work on Your Teen for Parents, Moms of Tweens and Teens, Parenting Teens and Tweens, Scary Mommy, Motherly, For Every Mom, Grown and Flown, and Her View from Home.
She is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” And “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon