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Make the Grade
Photo: Renata Jun
It was a proud day when I sent out my graduation announcements. After all, it’s hard to work full time and take a steady menu of online classes toward a bachelor’s degree.

The school’s interactive website allowed me to keep track of my GPA and I was so proud to see it hovering at around the 3.65 mark. If I hadn’t had a difficult teacher for psychology, it would have been much higher.

My hand-made announcements proclaimed that I graduated with honors. Not being the swiftest in the math department, I never stopped to crunch the numbers myself. Once in a while I wondered why I could attain such a high GPA when my first two years at Columbia Union College (CUC) had ended up not so stellar. But I assumed the registrar’s office knew what they were doing and maybe they even gave me some grace for having the nerve to go back to school after a lapse of several decades. Maybe my past grades had been erased because I was doing so well now and obviously on an upward track. 

Reality Hit!

Reality hit when four months after I marched, was appropriately tasseled and congratulated by the school’s president, I received my beautiful diploma in its navy-blue faux-leather frame. I opened up to show my assistant how beautiful it was and was surprised that there was nothing to indicate my standing as an honor student. Hadn’t I already been invited to join a special honors society? Of course, they required some pretty steep dues and I declined, but I’d still been asked.

An e-mail to my academic counselor cleared everything up. I, in fact, had graduated with a 3.1 GPA. “How was that possible?” I wrote back. The short of it, the university had not “forgiven” me my poor grades from CUC. Instead, they hadn’t bothered to factor them into the online tally.

Embarrassed. That pretty well sums up my reaction. I had been so proud of an unrealistic number. Sure, I was still grateful that there was a college diploma with my name on it and thankful that I had had the energy to complete the task, but the wind that had held my self-esteem sails had died down a bit. How naïve to think I was receiving grace from the administrators of my university. Mathematically, the end GPA was all I deserved. I obviously didn’t read and understand all the fine print that came along with my reentry program.

There’s no fine print when it comes to true grace, God-given grace. I don’t have to wait to see what’s written on my diploma. There’s no question that what I ask Him to forget and forgive will be erased and won’t enter into my final "grade."

“So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

That’s an honor society I can certainly afford.

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By Dee Reed. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the New Living Translation © 1996.

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