07/12/2013 10:31 am ET Updated Sep 11, 2013

Making the Grade

You're sitting in front of the computer with a blank Word document open and you tell yourself that you're going to start your research paper. The same research paper that you swore you were going to start a month ago when it was first assigned. Your mind starts to drift to all your favorite sites and how much time you still have before your paper is actually due. Next thing you know the Word document is replaced with Google and once again your research paper has been pushed to the side while you head to YouTube or Tumblr. You know that you're probably going to end up doing the paper at the very last minute and in turn end up looking up as much info online and then copying and pasting it in. As much as you know this paper could make or break your grade, you just can't stop yourself from reblogging that hilarious but totally relatable post on Tumblr.

Ever since the end of my sophomore year and into my junior year of high school, my life has increasingly consisted of procrastination. I remember my days of elementary and middle school when all I wanted was to learn and understand the world around me. Yet, as I get older I find myself more caught up in getting and maintaining good grades than wanting to learn the subjects I was getting them for. I still have the same interest in going to school but the need to keep good grades dominates over everything. At first, I thought that this wasn't a serious problem. I mean, I'm learning right? I wouldn't be getting an A in my chemistry class if I wasn't. But then, reality kicks in. Just because I'm learning something, doesn't necessarily mean I'm understanding it. I find that as I climb the high school ladder, the impending pressure of college and scholarships suffocate me and success at any cost is my only choice for a chance at air. Even if that chance meant I wasn't understanding everything fully.

My doubts finally hit the surface a few months ago. I thought I was a boss in science until one of sophomore friends, Velair asked for my help on some biology homework. It was something about the differences and importances of DNA and RNA within the human body. I was happy to find that I still knew what DNA and RNA were but the fact that I couldn't help him with the question left me feeling embarrassed. Here I am, someone who actually enjoyed that class, stumbling over what should've been an easy question. Bells were ringing in my head as I realized that I knew what he was asking about but I had no idea what to say to him. The concept was at the tip of my tongue but the light bulb just would not light up. When I took a look at the rest of the worksheet, everything on there was something I remembered learning about but couldn't explain. My teachers had always told me not to learn things just to pass the tests because the concept could come up in later situations and I wouldn't know what to do.

That moment had finally come and boy, was I feeling dumb. I used to cringe at the stereotypical slacker who always had those backhanded remarks for the teacher and just didn't want to do anything, but now I realize that at least they were being honest. All those "I don't cares" and "I didn't feel like its" were pure and teenage honesty that the rest of us just couldn't bring ourselves to share. I'm not trying to commend them but at the same time, I understand it. Some of us might be slackers too even if we don't admit it. We all know how sometimes those last, crucial moments that we have before we need to turn in our assignments are often used for Google and Yahoo Answers or finding someone who did the assignment to help us. The slackers know they're not going to understand anything they search so they know better than to waste their time and do all that last minute crap. Others, however, dive into that last minute adventure full heartedly.

As much as we don't like to admit it to anyone but our friends, we all pretty much want to give up on school at times. I'm not saying that that's going to happen, but the feelings are definitely there. Aside from the ideal goal of good grades, we have no real motivation to actually comprehend the subjects that are being taught to us. Somehow, we need to find that genuine interest to understand and learn what's being taught to us. If one thing's for sure, the older we get, the less we actually understand about school and the more we just want that A (or in some occasions the very nice B). All it takes now is that one smart person who always does the work for everyone else to benefit from it. Whether it's a last minute assignment that you "forgot" to do or the worksheet you know you can find online somewhere, learning has become less of a priority while grades have become our obsession. Even the geeks and nerds don't hold the same status as they did before. With the pressure to get into any college at all at such a high stake, we all have to do what we need to do, in order to secure our futures.

Sometimes, there just isn't enough time to learn that biology chapter all over again before the test and the teacher won't always be able to help you understand each concept. Yet, with the future weighing down on us, we don't necessarily have to give in to these pressures nor must we use them as an excuse. Whether this is going to be your first year of high school or your last year, there's still time to make a change and open your eyes to knowledge around you.