I just bumped into three former high school classmates within a span of two months. One was a C student who was told by the high school guidance counselor that she was definitely not college material and should have a vocational career. The second student was a straight A student and was told by teachers that she would have a stellar career because of her mental acumen and the other was just an average B student, no more no less. Out of the three students, the C student was the most successful student. I was totally nonplussed at this.
The first student ignored the advice of the guidance counselor and attended a prestigious college. However, her GPA was in the C+ range but she did not let this deter her. She found work at a financial institution and now has her own business. The A student was the least successful. She attended college and graduated with an A average. However, she meandered through life- going from job to job. Yes, she did not keep jobs for long- she was fired for one reason or another. Sadly, this prodigious student never used all of her potentials. The B student achieved an above average level of success-she became a psychologist in private practice.
It seems amazing that students who were deemed unlikely to succeed are the ones who succeed. There were C students in my college who went on to achieve great things while the A students just had mediocre lives. What gives here?
It means that in the scheme of things grades do not matter...
It may not matter that much in life. However, I still believe that in a lot of cases, college students with high GPAs do have an edge in graduate school and some employers do look more favorably upon those who earn high grades especially when it comes to selecting qualified candidates. I remember when I was first looking for a job, the questionnaire included what was your college and high school GPA. Even though grade point average is somewhat unimportant when one enters the work world, there are some employers who consider those who earn a high GPA as more industruous than those who obtain mediocre GPAs.
The measurement of what someone can and cannot do should no be attributed to their grades in school alone but their potential as a person. If a "C" student has more desire and will power to succeed than I can understand the see why this individual had great success...
What gives? The educational system producing completely absurd results is what gives. It's been producing the same results for the longest time.
There's an old joke I've heard about several different professions - essentially the same joke, but with details slanted towards the profession of the audience. It goes like this:
Graduates of a prestigious medical school met for their 10-year reunion. The ones who had been excellent students (A students) had gone on to professions as college teachers and researchers, and they earned about $70,000/year. The ones who had been B students turned out to be wonderful doctors, and they earned about $170,000/year. The ones who had been C students had become major quacks and they earned millions each year!
I've heard the same joke about lawyers and about ministers (C students became televangelists).
It actually sounds like the reality of what you discovered with your friends, except that the C student you mentioned doesn't sound unethical like the ones in the joke.
As for your A-student friend, she could have ADHD. Find and read the book "Women with ADHD" (could be ADD). It has some fascinating insight that may apply in this case.
Aficionada: Nice to hear from you again and adding to the discussion. Many C students do achieve phenonemal successes despite the naysayings of teachers, professors, and guidance counselors. The A student whom I have mentioned may probably have ADHD. In high school, she was so prodigious that she even corrected a teacher, stating that the information conveyed was erroneous. She habitually did this to many of the high school teachers. She contended that she was the SMARTEST person in the world. She stated that in her yearbook. Even though her college career was somewhat illustrous, her postcollege career was not. Probably her attitude got in the way of her success- i.e. she probably have a low emotional IQ. Thanks for your input.
I've done quite a bit of research on the subject of gifted students, highly gifted students, and underachieving students in general. A lot of very bright kids underachieve because schools don't particularly know they exist (for one reason or another). There are a lot of reasons this happens, and I won't go into them here. The main point is that schools can lose a whole lot of very bright kids (at least lose them to the extent that their grades don't reflect their ability). Underachieving isn't always about the kids who fail (or close to fail) a lot of subjects. It often goes undetected in kids who are C students or A and B students.
Not long ago I ran into a "thing" on a Harvard website, related to teaching people of different types of learning styles. It mentioned that people who thrived in the classroom environment/group learning setting tend to prefer that as adults. People who were dissatisfied with classroom-/group-type of learning environments often prefer to learn and do things on their own. That pretty much suggests that a lot of kids whose learning style, personalities, and/or less common degree of ability are likely to essentially bide time in school until they're through with whatever education they want/need and free to really do things their own way, and in ways that are right for them. (I think this discussion gives me an idea for a Hub. )
I'm guessing the C student you mentioned knew s/he had a lot more ability than "school people" thought and/or that grades suggested - so s/he also knew not to pay attention to the adults who couldn't/didn't recognize his/her ability.
Thank you Lisa for your insight. What you have mentioned brought to mind a boyfriend of a high school classmate who was a C student. His IQ was 145. He stated that he was bored with school. He further indicated that the A students at his school learned by rote and memorization. He added that teachers rewarded such behavior while students who were more independent minded were not rewarded. He was in the latter category. He preferred independent study and learning over rote classroom conformity. This young man further maintained that making Cs did not mean that he was not intelligent!
gm, it can be boredom, but it isn't just that either. There are so many different things that can contribute. I had a friend whose son was - no question about it- more than "A material". He got some A's but was satisfied with B's. She asked him why, and he said, "If I can B's and still have time for everything else in my life other than school, why shouldn't I?". He went on to excel in college (as he'd done in grade school). In high school, though, he was at the age when kids are trying to "get their foothold" in a lot of areas in life and in their own development. Particularly bright kids often have so many interests they can have trouble ignoring a lot of them in order to focus on something as "narrow" as one or more academic subject. Kids who know they're underachieving can feel really bad about it, be dealing with adults who either don't know they're as capable as they are, or who are on their backs about being "lazy", "not applying themselves", and "not getting that everyone has to do things they don't like to do in life".
These kids can wonder why they can't seem to "just do what they ought to do" ("like everyone else does"), but what they may not realize is that they can't concentrate on some things well enough because they're unhappy (which amounts to being stressed). Their self-esteem can be low or decrease because they feel like they have "no self discipline". In the meantime, they may also be getting something like mostly A's and B's and maybe a C or two; so they look like they're mostly OK (but maybe goofing off in a subject or two).
I really think, with all the advantages that kids like American kids get, the numbers of kids who are exceptionally bright have continued to get higher (or else the levels of abilities that go into "average" and "above" now include higher levels/mixes of abilities in any one category). Basically, I think kids have become "smarter and smarter" over the last few decades. I suspect that could be one reason so many more kids these days seem be being "lost" in schools. I think that could be one reason so many kids don't do as well in math as they otherwise could. Math can be, I think, one of the first subjects to go when a kid is unhappy or stressed in school. I think the other thing may be that as kids get past the grade-school years they're facing a lot of grown-up issues these days, so thirteen-year-olds (for example) are dealing with their own growth/development, whatever challenges a "more sophisticated" set of peers brings AND (maybe) not having academic needs/issues addressed in schools.
As you can see, I have my thoughts on what's been wrong in American schools, and the things that may even be more wrong in more recent years.
To Lisa, this is so true. Another student I knew with a high IQ and not an A student purported the same. He had varied interests. He was an extremely well rounded young man. He had a B average throughout high school and college; however, because of his extracurricular and varied activities, he has a genius level emotional IQ. This high level of emotional interaction helped him tremendously once he entered the work world. Within a year of his employ, he was promoted to a leadership position.
Conversely, there was a straight A student who only concentrated on his books. Yes, he was an excellent student all through high school, college, and graduate school but since he obtained his MBA, his abrasive personality put him at odds with superiors. He was terminated from job after job. He is now unemployable to say the least!
Nice to see you too, gmwilliams! I'm glad you opened up this discussion, because I think it is actually a very important one for our educational system, as well as being very interesting. (I checked out after my previous post and have been away from the computer until now.)
Another thought that I have had about the C student who succeeded was that she may have learned earlier in life how to work hard, and that is often a bigger predictor of success than good grades may be. Sometimes the gifted students are naturally and easily capable of making good grades, and so they don't develop the work skills that other students may learn. That is not always the case, of course, but it is one possibility.
In a book that I have mentioned here (in HP forums) several times - How We Decide - I read about a study of grade school kids who were given some difficult math problems to work, problems that were supposed to be above their level of ability. When they turned their papers in, the researchers responded with one of two enthusiastic remarks: either "You are so smart!" or "You have worked so hard!"
Then the researchers offered them some more difficult problems to work. The students whose intelligence had been complimented tended to be more cautious in attempting further difficulty. The ones who had been complimented on their hard work were eager to try the even more difficult problems and, in fact, were more successful at solving them than the other group.
The theory, if I recall correctly (and in my paraphrase), was that the "bright" students supposedly had a reputation and self-esteem to uphold and did not want to damage them; the "hard workers" were motivated by their success and simply the pure joy of learning, trying something difficult, and succeeding.
I think the same thing can sometimes play a part with some gifted students later in life. The skills that helped them to succeed in the classroom are not necessarily as valuable in the business or professional world; and, if they are afraid to try things that could make them look or feel foolish, they are not likely to get very far professionally.
But, having said all that, I do agree that an individual's personality and ability to work with others can play an enormous role in their ability to succeed. And I also agree that some employers may view grades as a measure of industriousness.
You have made some excellent points. Many students who are so-called average work harder. They contend that they had to work harder than others to be even. I remember a C student stating that she had to work harder than others in order to attend and remain in college. Let me not digress. The math test that you were talking about between the gifted and the not so gifted students. You are so correct in your premise, the gifted students had an image to maintain and did not want to take the necessary risk to solve the more difficult problems while the students who were not so gifted took the risk.
Many A students who are so used to earning good grades are also fearful of taking difficult courses when there might be a chance of "failure" so they remain on the road less challenged. Many C students because they have "missed the mark" so many times, are more willing to take the more challenging and difficult subjects. They maintain that even though they may not make that A, they will learn something about the subject and ultimately themselves.
Aficionada, yes I have heard of the book. Again, thank you for adding to the discussion.
I never really thought grades mattered to much. But this is still very interesting.
What is really interesting is this...consider the amount of time it takes to register and take the SAT tests for college. Many colleges will weigh 75% of the criteria against the SAT scores which represents 1 or 2 days of tests against their whole academic career...the things that make you go hmmmm...cheers
by Grace Marguerite Williams 8 years ago
that is totally false. It is the A students who are the MOST SUCCESSFUL in life. They have more opportunities to further their education and to succeed than either B or C students. A students are more likely to attend graduate, law, and/or medical school than either B or C...
by Grace Marguerite Williams 10 years ago
According to author Charles Murray, high school students who are in the bottom 40% percentile of their classes should not even bother to attend college because college courses are too rigiorous and advanced for such students. Do you agree with this premise?
by Paul Swendson 7 years ago
And if so, how?
by Shawn McIntyre 9 years ago
Teachers often complain about low pay; the claim to be overworked and under-compensated. The say that they deserve to be paid more, since they are responsible for teaching the next generation. Yet, when the subject of the ever falling standards and performance of students comes up, they rarely have...
by Theresa Ast 10 years ago
My apologies, but I think the high school and college teacher needs to avoid such broad sweeping questions (very few students nowadays - and I see them in my classes all the time - are ready for such questions). I think you have to start small demonstrating and teaching individual skills and...
by Brandon Martin 10 years ago
Should high schoolers be able to choose core classes based on a choice of future career?Sophomores and upper classmen only though... they already have prep-classes that you can choose, but is that enough. Kids with 4.0's through high school bust their butts on learning useless information (like why...
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