Extra credit is extra help

Optional work takes weight off of students’ shoulders


Johanna Kaplan

School is tough, and dealing with rigid grading only fuels the heavy load of stress. 

In my experience, teachers will assign a variety of required work. If a student doesn’t do well on one of the required assignments, their grade may suffer miserably. But that doesn’t have to be the case — teachers can assign optional homework, called “extra credit,” and students who do it will receive a boost to their grades. 

For students who want to raise their grades, extra credit offers the perfect opportunity to do so. These assignments enrich learning and provide a way to improve grades. From the perspective of a student, I don’t see any downsides. After all, these assignments are optional. 

Teachers, meanwhile, aren’t always head over heels when it comes to handing out extra credit. In the past, I have had several who think these assignments are a sham. Why would a teacher spend time creating extra assignments when they already have required ones?

For teachers, there is some element of trust that must be at play for extra credit assignments to be productive. If students skip out on the required work and opt to make up for it with extra credit, I can imagine a teacher might regret offering it at all. The intent of giving extra credit opportunities is to help students learn more and raise their grades while doing so — not to provide an easy way out of the required assignments. 

With that being said, even if extra credit is not always utilized in the way it’s meant to, it still helps limit stress on behalf of students. If someone isn’t doing well in class, extra credit offers a way out, a path of redemption when all else fails. 

I have always appreciated when teachers offer these opportunities because it takes off so much pressure. It also may signify if a teacher is really willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed. 

I bet just about every high schooler has been suffocated by schoolwork at one point or another. Instead of trying to combat this stress, it feels as if both students and teachers alike have settled into the fact that school is exhausting. This negative notion of high school  —  where students dread coming to their classes and being assigned endless hours of homework  —  has become normalized in American society. 

Piling on assignment after assignment slowly crushes students’ spirits. At times, it can feel like there is no way out. Extra credit, if even a small thing, makes school less daunting. Having that option is always beneficial for students. This is precisely why I am in favor of extra credit opportunities.