Getting An 'A' Is Overrated: Why Success In The Real World Is More Important Than In The Classroom

by Paul Hudson

Does being a straight A student guarantee success as an adult? Absolutely not. There are plenty of people who were exemplary students who weren’t able to make much of themselves once they got out of college. These people are easy to spot because they seem to be still living in the past, constantly reminiscing about stories of their great times in their frats or their science fair awards in high school.

You see, there’s one major difference between doing well in the classroom and doing well once you are on your own two feet in the real world. In the classroom, the focus is directed at the process of learning — memorizing and utilizing — while in the real world, all that matters is doing.

Let’s Be Honest… Our School Systems Aren’t Very Efficient

I loved going to school for one reason: it was easy as hell. All you had to do was remember a few dates, a few formulas, understand just enough of how everything fits together, and be capable of putting it down on paper when the time came to take an exam. It can’t get any easier than that. Sure, most of the things we were taught to memorize, we now find to be entirely useless and, quite frankly, a complete waste of about 15 years of our lives, but if we were able to look past the triviality of it all, it wasn’t difficult to get good grades.

We would spend time memorizing and re-memorizing, cramming before exams, ace the exams, and then spend the next following two to three days purging our minds of all the useless information in order to be capable of scarfing down the next batch of useless information. Don’t get me wrong, working on improving one’s memory is not a complete waste of time, but you can’t argue that we couldn’t have memorized more pertinent information or worked on strengthening our memories with more efficient exercises.

Now That We Are In The Real World We No Longer Memorize; We Do

I can understand how about 50 years ago having known random tidbits of information and world history could come in handy — but then came the Internet, rendering all the learning systems in our country outdated. If we don’t know a fact, we can type a few words into our phones or ask Siri for the answer. Ten seconds later, we will have it.

Information is no longer what we need better access to — we couldn’t ask for better access than we already have. What our generation is now struggling with is the inability to use the information they have learned to their advantage. Information itself is only useful if it is being utilized in a useful manner. Knowing how to calculate APR is useless if I can’t make enough money to put into my bank account in the first place. To make it in the real world, you have to be proficient in doing, in acting, carrying out and reaching results.

Schools Don’t Put Enough Emphasis On Processes

Getting your hands on pertinent information is just the first step. Schools can teach you how to research — aka Google sh*t — but they don’t teach you what to do with the information once you have it. You won’t be writing reports that simply state facts, but reports that explain a direction that should be followed in order to get the results needed. In the real world, you have to solve problems and do so efficiently — and usually while under pressure.

College taught you how to get to point A, great. But how do you get from point A to point Z? This is what you learn in the real world once you make your way out of school. You learn all the real-life variables that you have to deal with and anticipate for, accommodate. The real world teaches you what processes need to be followed so that you can use information to your benefit—you know… the stuff that actually matters in life. The classroom, in my opinion, is only good for two things: finding things that you enjoy doing and areas that you excel in, and networking.

Anything and everything else that you need in life has to be learned outside the classroom. Yes, spending all those years learning things you don’t need to know is very inefficient — but there’s no way of getting around it. Just don’t expect to be a straight A student in life simply because you were a straight A student in the classroom. Straight A students don’t exist in the real world; in the real world it’s all about making mistakes.

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