Really Needs a Better Title
In Real Life
, when students apply to university, the admissions board looks ever the applicant's high school transcript and standardized test scores. Only occasionally will exams taken and grades received before high school be used in judging the student's ability.
Not so in the world of fiction. Here, colleges will examine your transcripts going back to nursery school. And one little slip up can obliterate any chance you have of getting in. Whether it was a B in fourth grade art class or a "Satisfactory" instead of "Outstanding" in nap time in kindergarten, it can be a completely valid reason for a college to reject you. This often goes hand-in-hand with The B Grade
, partly in that we only seem to hear the "smart ones" panicking that the A- they received when they took pre-calculus in fifth grade will keep them out of the Ivy League
. Basically, you know you have this trope when a character who is not yet in high school is terrified that their one non-perfect grade will jeopardize their chances of getting into a good college (or even college at all). The younger the character, the more obvious the trope.
Obviously, this doesn't make sense. Children are growing mentally and emotionally throughout elementary and middle school, and it's perfectly reasonable to expect grades to suffer when children are bored, disinterested, or going through something else in their life. In the former two, young children sometimes take time to realize that you have to do the work even if it's boring: it's a matter of maturity, which isn't always equal to intelligence (though fiction would have us believe otherwise
) Also, elementary schools in real life are so different, that an A+ at one school may barely be a C in another, depending on the region, the district, the socioeconomic status of the local residents, and other factors.
Compare The B Grade