Anthony Diamond, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder
September 30, 2021
min read

Educational programs have become more and more competitive and school demands are among the leading causes of stress among teens [1]. Tests are commonly used to gage academic performance and how well students are learning but what do they actually test?

The first modern schools in the United States, as part of a movement for universal schooling, arose in the 19th century during the industrialization of New England. As factories came online there was an ever increasing demand for factory workers who were punctual, did what their managers told them to do, and were agreeable. School training that required sitting in a classroom throughout the day, carefully following instructions from a teacher, and observing schedules regulated by the ringing of bells were all great preparation for factory work [2].

This origin of modern schooling is not advertised to students and, as a result, they can erroneously believe that their school performance represents the level of success they will have in life, reinforcing false beliefs related to intelligence and potential. This is a travesty for BOTH low and high performers. High performers can lose the humility required to continue to expand their potential and the empathy necessary to connect with people from all walks of life. Either way, this can be dehumanizing and cause us to lose track of the unique perspectives, talents, and gifts that each of us has to offer the world.

"Students can erroneously believe that their school performance represents the level of success they will have in life, reinforcing false beliefs related to intelligence and potential."

In school, students are not regularly exposed to the theory of multiple intelligences. This theory proposes that human intelligence is differentiated into distinct capabilities and is not a single monolithic general ability [3]. While further investigation has found strong correlations between different types of intelligence, the value of this theory is that it provides space to consider that perhaps one size doesn’t fit all. For example, someone gifted with untrained but advanced interpersonal skills might benefit from an entirely different approach to further developing their set of abilities or acquiring knowledge than someone with musical talents or kinesthetic (athletic) abilities. 

All of this means that if you are a student, take heart in the fact that your grades don’t define you. They don’t reflect your potential or your intelligence. When you also consider that even above average students can expect to forget ~50-60% of what they have learned after two years, it starts to become clear that grades don’t have nearly the relevance or value we place on them [4].

If all of this is true, what are grades good for?  I believe we are best served when we think of grades as a means to an end and stop using this measure of achievement as the sole indicator of our learning progress. Good grades are used as a key metric for selection into more advanced educational programs. Many times these higher education programs, such as medical school, break with the factory model and begin apprenticeship type instruction. This requires that students, for the first time, start to actually practice the skills they will need for a desired profession. In many cases, students that excelled in the factory model are overtaken by students who may have received lower grades. All the more reason to stay focused on your true objectives and what is required to achieve them.

"I believe we are best served when we think of grades as a means to an end and stop using this type of achievement as the sole indicator of our learning progress."

Our Memory Maps Team wants to be a strong voice to remind you of these facts and that you are more than just a number. To do this we have built a very special GPA calculator. Both beautiful and informative, the calculator can help you achieve your academic goals while experiencing a little fun and beauty along the way. It works like any other GPA calculator but with additional features.

Informative Graphs 

First, like other GPA calculators, you are prompted to enter your grades, course credits, course weights if you are in high school, and your cumulative GPA and credits to date. With that information, a breakdown of your credits per semester and your cumulative GPA is calculated. 

Unlike other GPA calculators, you can then see your GPA plotted alongside averages for accepted students at the higher education institutions you may be interested in. The scatter plots show average GPA vs. standardized test scores (like the SAT) for a large set of universities. The color of points indicate acceptance rates, to help you gauge the competitiveness of the programs, and when you hover over (or tap the points on mobile) you’ll see additional information such as the institution name, GPA or test score percentiles, etc. We’ve added plots for undergraduate programs, medical school, law school, and PhD programs.    

But this information only lets you see where you are, not help you plan for where you are going. For that reason, we’ve added a slider to the graph that enables you to set a target GPA to work toward. Underneath the plot, we’ve made a summary bar that automatically calculates the GPA you are going to need to achieve your target based on the number of remaining credits you have. 

Unique Artwork

We decided to do something special with our GPA calculator that is unlike anything we’ve previously seen. We combine all of your inputs (and I mean all) and use them to create a unique, beautiful, and engaging piece of animated generative artwork. Watch an abstract representation of your academic journey come to life as the screen explodes with vivid colors, each splash of color adding to the next, culminating in a unique final form. See if you can identify the hidden structure that helps to guide the apparent randomness (to learn more about how the artwork is generated check out Matt DesLauriers’ Blog).

We’ve also made your stunning artwork easy to share. When you post the link to your artwork, you won’t just get a thumbnail of the final image, you will get a link to an artwork “player” set to run your unique, animated, full-screen artwork for anyone who opens the link. Replay and share as many times as you would like! Just remember, you are more than just a number.

We hope you will consider sharing this message with your friends by sharing this blog post or our beautiful and informative GPA calculator.

For those of you still looking to excel in the traditional learning environment, check out Memory Maps, the best way to remember everything you study. Transform stressful and never-ending work into engaging flow with ease. Enjoy the confidence of knowing exactly when information is locked in your memory and discover your limitless capacity for learning. You’ll be astonished at what you can accomplish with the right tools. 

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