Academic performance is often lauded as the most important element of your education, so much that it’s become commonplace to equate it with intelligence. And if you had a penny every time your teachers or parents told you that you need to study more, because you will do better later in life, you would already be rich. While grades, both in high school and in college, certainly have their place, are they really that important?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to this. Those who follow the first one claim that academic performance is one of the predispositions for success. Simply put, if you well in school, you will become a successful adult. The second school of thought claims that academic performance does not play a crucial role when it comes to success. We will refrain from saying that the truth is somewhere in the middle, or that everything depends on the individual, and consider both of these views, and draw conclusions from there.
It’s hard to argue that grades aren’t important when you are in high school. After all, your grades are one of the things that will enable you to get into a good college. Going to a good college means you will get a degree which is highly respected, which will later help you get a good job, and lead the life you’ve always dreamed of. At least in theory. That is also one of the reasons why students are being given so much homework. Arguably, it’s starting to have an adverse effect, because according to 123writings.com, which is one of the leading academic and business writing companies online, the number of students which seek homework help from writing services is steadily growing.
According to research conducted at the University of Miami, your GPA doesn’t just have a significant influence on your chances of getting into college and earning a degree, but also on your salary in the future. Michael T. French, who ran the research group, maintains that by raising your GPA by just one point, you are setting yourself up to earn up to 12 percent on your future job, if you are a man, or 14 percent, if you are a woman. The study, which has included 4,694 men and 5,525 women, has also found that your high school performance also boosts your chances of doing better at and finishing college. Also, those who did well in college were more likely to pursue advanced degrees.
The reason why those students were more likely to succeed might be because of how good they were at math. According to a study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, those which have completed higher level math courses in high school have a better chance of getting a job, which is indicated by their lower unemployment rate. Also, when compared to their peers which haven’t completed the said courses, they have higher earnings. Even those students which have dropped out of high school, but which have taken higher math courses, earn about 10 percent more than their colleagues. The research, however, does not explain why that is. It could be because math skills have wide application in real life, or because those which have taken math courses have parents which are educated and focus more on their children’s academic performance.
However, there is also plenty of evidence which suggests that grades, whether those in high school or in college, do not necessarily affect one’s life and future earnings. According to James Parker, who runs the Canada Research Chair at Trent University, your grades in high school can’t even predict how well you will you will do in your first year of college, let alone life. Grades aren’t a good indicator when it comes to figuring out who is going to drop out, either. There are lots of other reasons which contribute to your success or lack thereof later in life, and grades are just one of them.
Some students which have done well in high school do not necessarily stay brilliant in college, and those which have done poor in college can go on to become hugely successful and rich. This is because of a real life and business for that matter require a different skill set for success than the skill set needed to excel in higher education. Also, there are numerous examples of famous and successful people which haven’t exactly been honor students. Take IT giants Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as an example. Even though they have dropped out of college, that hasn’t stopped them from building multi-billion dollar empires.
Or Leonardo DiCaprio, who is one of the most popular and respected actors in the world. He has worked with legendary directors like Martin Scorcese and James Cameron, and has also won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hugo Glass in The Revenant. But, as he points out, school wasn’t the most stimulating setting for him:
School, I never truly got the knack of. I could never focus on things I didn’t want to learn. Math is just the worst. To this day, I can’t concentrate on it. People always say, ‘You should have tried harder.’ But actually, I cheated a lot because I could not sit and do homework.
And there is, of course, the most famous (and by far the best) TED talk, given by Sir Ken Robinson, who argues the effectiveness of existing models of education. According to him, schools kill creativity, because students are focused on getting good grades, instead of developing their true potentials. In other words, they are afraid of being wrong, which drives them away from success and their dreams.
As you can see, both stances are valid to an extent. Good grades are just one factor which can contribute to your success. Other important elements are your drive, good working habits, intelligence, and the ability to identify and tap into your true talents. But if set all of that aside, your future depends on just one factor: you.