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What's the Importance of Education and What Makes a Great Student?

Updated on November 20, 2015

Broadly speaking, education has played a major role in human evolution. We have solved global issues over the past few centuries. Imagine a world without light bulbs, telephones, cars, and the internet. We have these modern conveniences thanks to the past and current enlightened thought-leaders. The next logical step is for our generation to do new things and not repeat what other generations have done.

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With Knowledge, Comes Power.

Sir Francis Bacon coined the phrase “knowledge itself is power” in Bacon’s Meditationes Sacrae (1597). He states that, “The more one knows, the more one will be able to control events.” Knowledge gives you an advantage. In education, knowledge can be the difference between an “A” and “B” grade. In business, knowledge of building great teams, social issues, manufacturing and product development helps build a profitable company. Knowledge can come from learning, experience or by watching others' lives.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 30% of 25 to 64-year-old American citizen's educational attainment surpasses their parents (2014). The United States is in the bottom half of advanced industrialized nations in terms of percentage. This particularly hurts the poor who are suffering from a growing income gap. On the other hand, American workers with a college degree are paid 74 percent more than those with only a high school degree, on average, according to the OECD annual collection of education statistics (2014). Author Michael Ellsberg has written that around 80% of millionaires are college graduates (2011). Additionally, it has been published that the premium of a college degree is growing!

According to a 2015 study from the Graduate Management Admission Council, the payoff of a graduate business program is an approximately 90 percent increase in median salary.

Median Change In Post-Degree Salary

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Forbes noted that more than 55% of billionaires who derive their fortunes from finance have graduate degrees (2009). To learn more about millionaires and billionaires, click here.

For low-income individuals and their families, higher education typically means more income and upward mobility, helping address the growing inequality in the United States at the very least.

Knowledge is a weapon that can be used to earn more, increase potential, increase decision making abilities, lead better lives, and provide more to society among other things. Overall, knowledge and education are great investments. When is the last time you have heard someone say, "I really regret reading that book?"

Now, let’s focus on educational success.

What is a Student?

According to www.dictionary.com, a student is:

1. a person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college; pupil:

a student at Yale.

2. any person who studies, investigates, or examines thoughtfully:

a student of human nature.

By this definition, practically anyone can be a student! That being said, why are certain students more successful than others? What sets them apart from the crowd? From my experience, educational success, whether that means getting great grades in a classroom, teaching yourself something new or learning from others, can be narrowed down to fundamental behaviors and skills that great students possess and utilize regularly. Certainly, in the top 10 behaviors and skills that lead to educational success (with my definitions) are:

  • Hard work – The effort in applying yourself consistently
  • Tenacity – Being very determined and never giving up
  • Questioning – Not accepting the status quo. Asking why
  • Problem solving – Breaking down a complex problem to its components, visualizing the problem, applying concepts and solving the problem
  • Critical thinking – Reasoning, analyzing, observing, inferring, explaining, evaluating and more
  • Preparation – The key to success. Click here to read tips on successfully transitioning from high school to college
  • Proactiveness – Initiating the action(s) to set success in motion rather than being reactive

Generally, great students consistently utilize these and other behaviors and skills more than others until they are successful. Beyond that, their personality and how they impact those around them effects their success as well. As reference points, here are two great summaries of what it means to be an excellent student in the classroom: http://www.wikihow.com/Become-an-Excellent-Student and http://adulted.about.com/od/studyskills/tp/10waystogetthemostoutofcollege.htm.

What do you think of when you think of a smart student or colleague? One who is knowledgeable! Knowledge is the great equalizer.

In the ever changing technology landscape and unparalleled access to information, education has and will continue to change. Other than traditional classroom settings, experiential learning and home-schooling, we are continually pursuing live and online self-education and tutoring, artificial intelligence and many other alternatives. It will be interesting to be a part of and contribute to the educational acceleration occurring in this century. Hopefully, we will have a brighter future.

Go on and consume knowledge!

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