Some students excel at school. They’re in all advanced classes. They skim a page and remember the subject matter — forever. And they raise their hand before the question is even asked. What’s more, they’ve been known to wait till the last minute to study for tests, and you guessed it, they still walk away with an A. Good grades come easy to them.
Then there’s the rest of us.
It’s not that C students aren’t smart — some aren’t good test-takers, some are late bloomers, while others are simply overscheduled. But many C students compensate for grades by getting involved in extracurricular activities and learning a ton from the activity. (For example, some play a sport, volunteer within the community, or have a job.) Although it’s hard to juggle several balls in the air at the same time, extracurricular activities pay dividends long after the activity is finished.
Students who are only good at test-taking don’t always make the grade.
The School of Hard Knocks
It’s incredibly admirable to get good grades, but it’s equally important to maintain perspective. Folks who believe that good grades guarantee success are in for a rude awakening. When you hit the real world, certain factors set winners apart from losers. Those factors include honesty, integrity, discipline, commitment, teamwork, etc. As you’ve probably guessed, A (or academics) alone doesn’t pass the smell test. C (or character) is the key determinant of success. That may sound a little hokey, but the point is valid nonetheless. Here’s why…
The true test of greatness is your character.
Some straight-A students face difficulty in the real world because …
It’s hard to:
- Face adversity, when you’ve always achieved success.
- Get used to hard work, when schoolwork always came easy for you.
- Accept feedback, when you’ve always been told how good you are.
- Learn to be a team player, when you’ve always been graded on individual performance.
- Think out of the box, when you’ve been taught there’s only one right answer.
- Discover what you don’t know, if you’re a know-it-all.
- Start at the bottom, when you’ve always been at the head of the class.
Grades Do Not Determine Success
Students learn 16 valuable lessons by participating in extracurricular activities. They include:
Initiative. Anyone can watch a game, but winners get off the sidelines and play.
Purpose. When you do something for satisfaction rather than reward, the reward is often the satisfaction of doing it.
Attitude. Don’t settle for good if you have the potential to be great.
Work ethic. If you want to share in the rewards, share in the work.
Effort. Success doesn’t always come to those with the greatest skills, but to those who apply their talents.
Rewards. You don’t get what you want; you get what you deserve.
Personal responsibility. Winners make the effort while losers make excuses.
Self-sacrifice. Get ready to make sacrifices if you want to be successful.
Obstacles. View every challenge as a hurdle rather than a roadblock.
Perseverance. Determination is habit forming; so is quitting.
Self-worth. Do your best and make yourself proud.
Failure. Don’t take rejection personally. Throw away the bad experience, but save the lesson.
Personal growth. Keep learning — even when you’re busy.
Experience. Learn from your mistakes or they’ll turn into bad habits.
Humility. Be humble and quietly proud, but never self-satisfied.
Integrity. Winning without honor is worse than a resounding defeat.
Make the Grade
Good grades and moral character are NOT an either-or proposition, but some people treat them that way. Some folks think their work is done because they graduated with straight A’s. They’ve only begun to be put to the test!
The true test of success is whether you can put your knowledge to good use. If you want to achieve great things, there’s nothing more important than being a good person. Moral character is more than a catchphrase. It’s the tried-and-tested ticket to success. It’s not only what you bring to the table, but also how you serve it.
How Do You Grade Students?
Please leave a comment and tell us what you think or share it with someone who can benefit from the information.
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Loretta Smith says
Frank: Love this article. Too often we overlook the students that just simply work hard to achieve the best they can. It goes for work as well. High performers at work are not necessarily your best employees. It takes character to be an ideal employee. We seem to get stuck in the measure of competency and forget or ignore looking at the character of the person, the level of trust they are building in their team and steady as she goes reach performance objectives together. thank you for your insights and for so eloquently outlining the need to look deeper into the human capacity.
Frank Sonnenberg says
You’re right, Loretta
High performers hold their head up high knowing that they live with honor and integrity and do what’s right each and every day. While some folks look for fame, power, and wealth, these folks have inner peace. I’m sure you know folks who are making a difference. We call them role models.
Thanks for taking the time to write.