The Sacrifices of Being a Straight-A Student

Sydney Rubin, Staff Writer

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Many students set towering academic expectations for themselves when entering high school; in aiming for that dazzling 4.0 grade point average(GPA), they immerse themselves in a rigorous curriculum.  However, when faced with the challenges of maintaining this perfection, many students tend to get lazy and very few actually follow through with these goals.  This leaves only a handful students fortunate enough to have the exceptional persistence and stellar work-ethic for this craved 4.0.  However, when you taker a closer look, one might question if having a 4.0 GPA makes you so lucky after all.

It is no secret that maintaining a 4.0 average is demanding, but many people don’t actually recognize the sacrifices that these straight-A students have to make.  So what are these sacrifices?  I talked to three high-achieving Stamford High School juniors, trying to tackle the most important and difficult year of their high school careers, to see what a day in the life looks like.

Along with maintaining phenomenal grades, all three students I talked to were involved with extracurricular activities, where they hold leadership positions in school clubs and have become active members of the SHS community.  Even though these clubs serve as a nice break from the constant state of academia, they can become time consuming and cut into studying time… and don’t even mention free time.  Junior Samantha Heller said, “I truly love all of the activities I participate in, but it leaves me little time to do other things I love, like bake, play the piano, and read.”

Clubs ranging from band and sports to student government and volunteering consume the time of SHS students; these activities often keep them up into the late hours of the night, as they get a late start on homework.  Not arriving home until around 5:30 to 7:00 (and sometimes even later) is an obstacle that these straight-A students have learned how to work around.  Whether it means giving up eating dinner with their families, time with their friends, or watching TV, these students find a way to make it work.  Joan Perez, who juggles a multitude of various activities, is annoyed by the fact that she “simply can’t see [her] friends because there aren’t enough hours in the day.”

These students’ dedication to academics and their willingness to sacrifice things that make them happy is something that not all students can relate to.  It takes a very driven teenager to give up TV, which is exactly what Heller did.  Heller said, “I also literally never watch TV.  Because of the snow day today I watched Netflix for the first time since August…I highly recommend Black Mirror.”

Along with sacrificing leisure (may it be TV, a social life, social media) these students often lose a more important thing: sleep.  Here at Stamford High, it isn’t uncommon to walk into an AP class and be surrounded by overly exhausted teenagers who didn’t get to bed until after midnight the night before.  For these students, grades trump sleep, and they view sleep as just another sacrifice they must make in order to keep up their grades.  On a particularly busy day, Rohith Naralasetty “stocks up on about two coffees at home after [his] clubs.”  He said, “Then I work until 12 and wake up at 4 in order to finish off any work.”

Perez admits that, for her, it is a typical night if she is tucking in sometime between 12:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m.
Taking a deeper look into the schedules of these driven students poses a very large question: why do they pursue their education with such intensity?  Why do they go above and beyond for their 4.0 GPA? Obviously all of these students are planning on attending college, but there are plenty of great schools that don’t require a 4.0 GPA from its applicants.

Many students have a belief similar to Perez, who said, “As students, school is our job; it is our responsibility.”

Straight-A students are just the people who take their “job” more seriously than others.  For many students, parental pressure, along with the need for a scholarship, is enough to keep them motivated.  Heller claims, “I don’t want my 4.0 GPA so I can get into a good college as much as I want it because I know I am capable of having it.”  She continued, “The challenge for me will be figuring out which schools I would thrive in the best, whether it has a 14 percent acceptance rate or 45 percent acceptance rate doesn’t matter.”

These straight-A students wake up at 6 a.m. and go to bed around 12 a.m.; this is an 18 hour work day with little down time.  At the ages of 16 and 17 years old, they already have a work ethic that is comparable to that of professional adults, and their hours are not that different either.  They limit and minimize their free time, time spent with friends, and time doing hobbies every single day.  Just be aware that nobody lucks their way into a 4.0 GPA; it requires years of hard work and major sacrifices.

Junior Ryan Hoak has a 4.0 grade average, and is also a member of the National Art Honors Society, Interact and is a co-leader of the Environmental Action Committee. Photo by Sydney Rubin.

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