Dispelling the Myth of The Poor A Student

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Growing up being an A student one’s childhood is likely filled with great, often conflicting, expectations. On one end because of your good grades, there’s the crowd that expects you to be the next Bill Gates. On the other end, there are all the books, blogs and articles written by authors from reputable publications telling you that there’s a strong correlation between your grades and doing “well but not great” financially. This is compared to your peers who scored C or even D grades of course.

We see them everywhere, the posts about how the Mark Zuckerberg’s of this world (who just got $6 billion richer a couple of months ago by the way) are dropouts and have graduates- many of them being A students – working for them. So we dug a little further to see how some of the most notable billionaires fared academically. The results are rather disappointing yet startling.

Starting with the second richest man in the world, Bill Gates, who is probably the world’s most acclaimed drop-out. Well, it so turns out that our good ol’ uncle Bill actually scored 1590 out of 1600 for his SAT, which is pretty impressive. Moving on to the king of investments, Warren Buffet. Having attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, the first and perhaps the most prestigious business school in America, Buffet is known for being a mathematical genius renown for being able perform lengthy calculations correctly in his head. Both these cases are indicative of  these billionaires being A students. Which doesn’t satisfy the correlation of A students doing worse off  financially. Neither does the case of Jeff Bezos the billionaire founder of Amazon, who is a Princeton graduate.

a student

Furthermore, a study titled “Investigating The World’s Rich And Powerful” by Jonathan Wai from Duke University, examined the education level of three groups of global elites; one of these being billionaires in the top 0.0000001% of wealth. The study found that within its sample 44.8% of billionaires went to elite schools- that is schools requiring high academic standards (i.e. A students) for admission.

The disappointing factor in these results is the myth that many A students have allowed to haunt them  regarding the correlation between their good grades and their future financial status. See, correlation does not mean causal. It so seems that many of the billionaires who were smarties turned out to be successful financially due to personal traits that are also commonly shared by C, D, E and even F students that have also gone out and achieved immense success financially.

So the moral of the story is: when it comes to being super rich, grades, whether good or bad, don’t really count. So be at ease dear A-students.



Cecelia Wrights

A Joburg based recent graduate who’s found herself placed in the ambiguous world of corporate life. Next to being one of the freshest additions to the fat slice of the income group cake, called the middle class, she is a Wealth Evangelist on a mission to spread the culture of building wealth amongst those who, like her, are recent graduates early in the stages of building their careers. Sternly believes that money is a bad master, but an excellent slave ;-)!

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