"I am sitting in a class full of people who I know I am smarter than. I know I am smart, this has always been one thing I have been sure of… but for some reason my grades do not reflect this. I just find myself wondering if it is worth giving up some essential freedom (social life, sleep, carefreeness) in order to achieve the perfect academic transcript. My families values are extremely centered around the significance and importance of knowledge and education-no way they would let me get married without a graduate degree first! But is education really the most important thing in life? What about health and happiness? Is it worth sacrificing these other qualities-which may be just as important-in order to be educated?"
My friend, you speak of two separate entities in your question on education: the society-defined construct of academia and the universal truth of knowledge. Although separate, at many times these two ideas overlap and distinction is relatively blurry.
However, think; knowledge is defined as facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education-experience being the truth you find yourself, and education being the truth that is passed down from generations. This “society-define construct of academia” has to do mostly with passed down knowledge, while the “universal truth of knowledge” regards both aspects.
Therefore, I would advise that perhaps you should listen to your family in some sense, but in another go beyond education to seek other knowledge. If getting a graduate degree will provide essential knowledge, then do just so. But remember what is paramount: knowledge. These qualities of happiness and health you speak of, are much related to knowledge; knowledge encompasses all that is. Education is significant in countless ways, but knowledge is the food of the soul, the foundation of our humanity, the reason behind of lives.