How Do Grades Affect Students’ Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is an all-important psychological disposition. It tends to predict the outcome of academic success. The effect of grades has a lot to do with our self-esteem. Whenever a student is newly admitted into the University, the feeling of enthusiasm and high self-worth will be at the highest degree.The egoistic part of our thought processes will be triggered. The positive energy to study hard and make the best grades possible will pump us up. We don’t mind spending a whole day studying our books and going to night classes for extra studies. Our self-esteem hasn’t been tampered with yet. But the moment we see our first semester results, that’s when there will be an adjustment in self-esteem. let’s see How Do Grades Affect Students’ Self-Esteem?

How Do Grades Affect Students' Self-Esteem?

The first set of grades you get in your first year while on campus will either improve your self-esteem or make you feel inferior about yourself. It will be terrible if you keep recording bad grades, it will come to a point where you feel discouraged and define yourself as a never-do-well student. You will feel withdrawn and detached from academic activities. Depression and frustration might set in. But on the other hand, if you happen to get the best possible grades within the first few years in college, you will have the feeling of great self-worth. 

How do grades affect students’ self-esteem?

We can’t absolutely generalize the fact that someone’s grade can determine their self-esteem. There are students with different purposes on campus. Some never came majorly to get good grades. They are there to fulfill all righteousness as a college student or maybe compelled by their parents. In such rare cases, the student might not care much about whether or not the grades are affecting their self-esteem.

Nevertheless, the fact that we got bad grades shouldn’t be an excuse to feel down about ourselves or criticize ourselves and condemn ourselves. The greatest damage to oneself is self-defeat or self-condemnation. College grade is one thing, and humanity is another. We are basically preparing for the universe, not the university. Those grades are actually meant to check our level of academic performance and only help to assist in providing a better life in society. But when we start looking at grades as everything in our lives, then it will be the highest form of self-deception. The goal should therefore be to pay no mind to other people’s opinions of our grades. If we can succeed in doing this, we will improve our academic performance.

Steps on how grades affect students’ self-esteem

1. Self-definition

The first and most important step of a grade’s effect on a student’s self-esteem is the act of defining oneself. Your personal definition will aid in how you position yourself and how you define your goals. The grades a student gets over time will make him or her give either positive or negative Self-definition. Good grades tend to trigger positive self-definitions, and bad grades do otherwise. 

For instance, Stanley is a guy in the department of Civil Engineering, the University of Nigeria Nsukka, who gained the admiration and approval of everyone as the smartest and most gifted guy in the department because of his highest grade point average (GPA) in the first year. He used to be called all sorts of names associated with success. His academic prowess gave him a good self-definition not just for himself, but people around him naturally defined him as a genius.

2. Thought processes

The thing that worries you, most times, tends to control you. If you check the mental disposition of a student with good grades and the one with a terrible grade, you would agree that grades can create a great mental shift for students. The thought of a student with good grades is filled with affirmative words and positive feelings. Meanwhile, the student with bad grades is completely overwhelmed with a negative and condescending attitude. Many students on campus, especially in Nigeria, informally believe that regarding academic pursuit, it’s either the cumulative grade point average (CGPA) rises or Blood pressure will rise. Therefore a student with low grades will tend to think lowly about himself or herself.

3. Class Attendance

A good way to dictate when a student is adversely affected by bad grades is to monitor his or her class attendance. The motivation to attend classes regularly will slip back instantly. The students will never feel the enthusiasm to partake in school activities. The frustration of such students is understandable. In a survey carried out by a student, he observed that as students increase in level, the rate at which they attend classes tends to drop drastically. It’s majorly because of gross academic failure or horrible grades in the case maybe. 

And as a student keeps skipping classes regularly, whether or not it’s about academic performance, the tendency to continue getting terrible grades is possible and predictable. And such an experience will not only affect a student’s self-esteem but will also create a mindset of detachment from other students.

How to raise Self-esteem brought down by poor grades?

• Believe In Yourself; never see bad grades as what should be used to justify how your future will look like. 

• Be Optimistic; irrespective of your bad grades, always feel like there is an opportunity to get better and possibly improve your grades with time.

• Treat Yourself Well;

The positive side of ourselves is not comfortable with depression. There’s always the internal feeling on the inside that will keep demanding our care and love. As a student with low grades, try to stay motivated and positive because joy and depression can’t stay in the same space.


The overall opinion of ourselves and how we feel about our abilities and limitations is the first and most important factor in success, and we should never let poor academic performance determine our fate.Never care so much about people’s definition of success. Marcus Aurelius agrees with Epictetus that it is foolish for us to worry about what other people think of us.