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3 Reasons Why Being an “A” Student May Prevent Your Success

3 Reasons Why Being an “A” Student May Prevent Your Success

You worked hard all throughout school. You studied every night to make the honor list every semester. You attended college and continued your hard work earning a high GPA. In short you were a good student – an A student. But then something odd happened. You went to work in the real world, and one of the first things you notice is that your boss is probably not as smart as you.

Chances are your boss was not as good at school as you were. In all likelihood, your boss probably scraped out of college with a GPA just high enough to qualify for a degree. In short your boss was probably a C student. And we all know that C students are just average. What went wrong? Why are you not rewarded for your hard work? Or even worse, why is your boss rewarded for being average?

Anecdotal evidence abounds that suggests success in business and life are not necessarily tied to academic achievement. We can look at business giants such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson, none of whom completed a Bachelor’s degree – Richard Branson didn’t even complete high school!

How can this be? Aren’t we all taught that success in school directly translates to success in life? Very good students almost always become teachers. Great students almost always become professors. While both are noble professions, neither is lauded as an overly successful career – certainly not in terms of status, prestige, or money. Let’s take a look at the top five reasons why being an A student may actually work against your future success.

Being an “A” Student Stifles Your Creativity

While it may seem counterintuitive there is a body of evidence that suggest our current education system actively works against creativity. And we’re not talking just about the education system in the United States either, every education system on Earth teaches the same basic subjects[1]. To be an A student requires that you master the subjects you are taught. It’s easy to see where this is going. Where does the creativity come it when every A student in the world has mastered the exact same set of subjects?

“A” Students are Taught to Conform Not Think

Closely linked to the idea of creativity is that of conformity. Where creativity exists conformity diminishes, but where conformity exists creativity diminishes. Being an A student is completely about conforming. Really spend some time thinking about your experiences in school.

The A students are always those who pay close attention in class. They absorbed every word the teacher spoke as if it were pure, revealed truth. Come test time the A student regurgitates the information handed down to them from the teacher, and is thus rewarded with an A.

The problem with this approach is legion, but the most serious issue (and the one most likely prevent the A student’s future success) is that they are being trained that conformity and regurgitation of “facts” is superior to independent thinking.

“A” Students Lack the Drive to Explore New Things

A famous story about Bill Gates relates how he would regularly neglect his own classes to attend other classes that interested him, even though he wasn’t registered for them[2]. That’s something unthinkable for any “good” student to do. Good students don’t blow off classes. Good students are taught better than that. The result is that good students either lack the drive (or are simply afraid) to explore new things.

Success has more to do with your creativity, your drive to explore the new and untested, and your ability to think through a problem or situation. By training themselves to conform to a system that actively discourages the very things that work toward success in life, the A student ends up unable to succeed in the same way an average student can.

A professor supposedly once said “that all his A students became Professors, his B students became Doctors and his C students millionares”

[1] How Schools Kill Creativity. Sir Ken Robinson. TED2006 Conference. Filmed Feb. 2006.

[2] “The ‘C’ Students Run The World.” Elite Daily. 10 April 2012. Web. 1 March 2015.

[1] How Schools Kill Creativity. Sir Ken Robinson. TED2006 Conference. Filmed Feb. 2006.

[2] “The ‘C’ Students Run The World.” Elite Daily. 10 April 2012. Web. 1 March 2015.

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