‘You’ll Never Be Rich Since You’re Obviously Smart’…

I recently came across an article, titled, ‘This is why class valedictorians don’t become millionaires’.

Wait a minute, didn’t I always want to be a valedictorian? Isn’t that what my parents told me?- go to school, get good grades, that’s how you’ll be successful.

Disclaimer: Though I did pretty well, I have not been a valedictorian either in college or in high school. But I always wanted to be. In high school, it was because I thought that the better my grades, the better my chances of getting into an ivy league college. In college, the better my grades, the better job I’d get, or the better grad school I’d get. In both cases though, I’d end up getting involved in various non-academic endeavors, which was perhaps one of the reasons I didn’t end up being a valedictorian.

Regardless, it was something I did want for myself.

Turns out, class valedictorians do become reasonably successful in their respective careers, as one may expect. But, according to this article, research has shown that they do not, in fact, end up becoming billionaires or changing the world.

It seems that the traits that set one up for exceptional success in high school and college — “self-discipline, conscientiousness and the ability to comply with rules” — are not the same traits that lead individuals to start disruptive companies or make shocking breakthroughs.
Meanwhile, lots of mediocre students thrive outside a scholastic environment. A survey of over 700 American millionaires found that their average college GPA was 2.9. “College grades,” Barker writes, “aren’t any more predictive of subsequent life success than rolling dice.”
“School has very clear rules,” Barker says, “but life doesn’t. Life is messy.”

Naval Ravikant, the co-founder of AngelList, had something to say about this article, which I found rather interesting:

To be honest, this scares me a little. With admitted pomposity, I will say that I think I’m smart. A bit of a personal revelation: I happen to have landed an internship at this really big tech company which is supposedly really hard to get. But, I’m doing something which I’m not particularly excited by, or passionate about. I know there are other things I can do which I may found more exciting and meaningful. But hey, it’s a big company, it’s not all that bad, the perks are great, the work is challenging and stimulating, the pay is great… wait a minute, is this what he means by ‘just good enough’?…

I’ll end this here. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that there will come times when I’ll have to make tough decisions which will impact the direction my life will take. And I’ll be thinking about this quote when I do.


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Originally published on my blog.