4.0 is the sum of 3.0 and 1.0, and also 2.0 and 2.0, and also 1.7 and 2.3, and also a lot of hard work.

It’s also the GPA my dad and I agreed I needed to get for the remainder of my time at Gannon.

It’s also the GPA I got last semester.

This past semester was the first time I’ve gotten a 4.0 while in college and it feels really good. I was nervous toward the end of the semester as to if I could pull it off. With Gannon’s new grading scale adding an A-, which is worth 3.7 grade points, my job was slightly more difficult. I checked GUXpress compulsively after break until, finally, there it was: four A’s and two A+’s in a neat row. I snapped a picture, put it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all to see, and breathed a sigh of relief.

I received many “Congrats.” My dad was one of the first to know and was sure to congratulate me as well. But he was also sure to bring me back down to Earth. He reminded me that I still had three semesters to go, and that this semester would be harder.

In operational conditioning – something we learned about in Learning and Cognition, one of my A+ classes – certain behaviors are reinforced based on whether a reward or a punishment is received. In the case of a 4.0 (the reward), the behaviors from last semester should be reinforced. But what if the behaviors were not necessarily positive? For example, if a student had easy classes and didn’t study as hard? It also appears that getting a 4.0 has the odd effect of making students relax the next semester, making them “four point o-verconfident.”

A similar effect can be observed in high school seniors receiving college acceptance letters. Many seniors think that, once admitted to college, the hard work is done, and they can spend their last semester of high school relaxing and slacking in classes. But all colleges reserve the right to revoke acceptance, and some even warn students to keep their GPAs up for the rest of the year in their acceptance letters.

A 4.0 is awesome and definitely deserves time for celebration and relaxation. But it is also something that is earned and has to be re-earned each and every semester. Take the time at the start of this semester to reflect on the last and identify what helped and hurt in earning the grades you did. Keep what helped, eliminate what hurt and soon you’ll be on your way to a 4.0 too, or in my case, a 4.0 two.

Matt 🙂