Grades in School
To most students grades represent the end goal. To be fair, they are often what goals are based on: we compute class averages to see where we stand against our peers. As we consider potential employers, we often have our dreams shattered when we realize that some have a minimum GPA requirement.
While all students should keep an eye on their grades, they should also understand that GPA means very little to most employers and will diminish in importance as you embark on your career. Goldman Sachs and McKinsey may only look at students with a certain minimum GPA but many top-notch employers do not. The reason behind the Goldman and McKinsey requirement is that they want students that can absorb knowledge like sponges and learn on the fly. They assume that a good student will make for a good employee. But it is this kind of "inside-the-box" thinking that makes such employers horrible for young professionals who wish to control their destiny and think out-of-the-box.
A successful career in business does exist beyond the perceived elite companies. The question comes down to whether you wish to be in a comfortable company having to sit silently and pay your dues or whether you prefer being seen as an equal who can contribute with the best of them.
Bottom of the barrel employees do nothing but flatten the beer. Those at the top give the beer the much needed crispness and element of freshness. Anything can make a beer go stale but very few things will make it taste good. If you believe that you are at the top of the mug then choose to be in control of your destiny.
Evaluation at work is one thing. Grades in school are another. There is a certain level of hypocrisy in grades and group work specifically. Weak students will rely on strong group mates to increase sagging individual exam grades. Better students will see their stellar individual exam grades be pulled down due to weaker group performances. Unfair? Well, so is life.
If you get excited about the challenge of getting that group performance to improve so it match your personal output, that says a lot about which path you might take and where you will end up. If the idea of seeing your results tarnished by others angers you, then another path may be best for you.
Vince Lombardi said it best: "You never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you. The score on the board doesn't mean a thing. That's for the fans."
In school, grades are for professors parents, potential employers, and yes, to some extent, for you. But what is really important for you is the performance and the effort. That is what everyone sees and remembers.