Wharton professor: Straight A's don't lead to career success

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Monday, December 10, 2018
Wharton professor: Straight A's don't lead to career success
Ken Rosato reports on Wharton Professor sparking a Staight A debate.

NEW YORK -- Should you push your child to get straight A's?

A recent New York times op-ed written by Adam Grant, Professor of Psychology at Wharton, seeks to change the notion that perfect GPAs lead to more successful lives.

"If they make one tiny mistake, if they get a B plus or maybe even a little bit worse, they feel like their lives are over," Grant said.

Grant argues important skills like creativity and leadership aren't tied to a report card.

"If your goal is to get straight A's, you spend so much time studying that you haven't built your leadership skills, your experience of collaboration," Grant said. "And over time, those skills become increasingly important."

The author of "Originals" said students should study less and embrace those extracurricular experiences, even take a class outside of their comfort zones.

"Even if you feel like you underachieved a little bit at school, that could actually prepare you to overachieve in life," Grant said.

Some readers disagree with Grant's take.

"It's possible that you're overgeneralizing about A students and the faculty who teach them," one wrote.

"This (piece) is not only simplistic and filled with inaccurate stereotypes, but it reeks of privilege," another said.

ABC News spoke with a group of college students to find out how important academic excellence is to them.

"I think if I was going directly into the job market, it would be different," senior Jessica Lang said. "Because I am going to stay in academia, I need to focus on my GPA and try to get the highest one possible. And straight A's are an important part of that."

"We also are kind of in an environment where people do strive for A's, and there is that pressure," junior Minah Suh said. "And it's kind of hard to ignore it."

But Grant says opportunity isn't always tied to GPA.

"I don't think it's necessarily the case that everyone is automatically going to expect you to have perfect grades in order to give you a shot," Grant said.

To read Grant's essay, visit The New York Times' site.


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