The Correlation Between School and Success

mark rossini

There is a correlation between bad students and big success. But it isn’t what most people think.

Prevailing wisdom says, “The better one does in school, the better they will do in their career, their finances and in life overall.” But the numbers just don’t support that thinking.

Bad Students/Successful People

President George H.W. Bush said “I refuse to release my high school transcript. I failed chemistry and I don’t want anyone to know that.”

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard his junior year, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out his sophomore year.

Here is a list of just a few successful high school dropouts.


What School Doesn’t Do

In this article in Inc., Ilya Pozin explains that GPA does not measure incredibly valuable attributes. Values such as leadership ability, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, or unconventional problem solving go unchecked. In fact, one of the most valuable topics for understanding success is the study of heuristics, which most schools never even touch.

But there are outstanding examples of great students, who failed at life. People like Harry Markopolis, Ignaz Semmelweis and Pol Pot who were champions of education. But they either weren’t able to find success, or in the case of Pol Pot, was just a horrible person. Saddam Hussein was one of the biggest proponents of education. Under his reign Iraq had a 100% primary school enrollment and Hussein set out to make sure every person in Iraq could read.

The Student Loan Crisis

Yet we still believe, despite mounting evidence that the path to success is formal eduction. All while wading through a student loan crisis that could be the next downfall of our economy. In a world where over half of borrowers still haven’t paid off their student loans 20 years later, we have a $1.5 trillion crisis on our hands. Not because we need it, but because we are perpetrating a lie. The lie that formal education is the path to success has turned out to be a nightmare for some. It’s a complete farce to most of the people with a 17 year-old student loan for a degree they aren’t even using.

If good students are struggling and bad students are finding great success, why are we pushing our youth to be good students?

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