Do “C” students deserve “A” lifestyles? I don’t think so. But it is probably because “C” students think they deserve “A” lifestyles that there is so much tension, debate, and misery in the workplace.
“C” Students And “A” Lifestyles
Back in the 9th grade, I remember goofing off quite a bit with my buddies. We skipped class, stayed out late, and essentially did a lot of stuff that was detrimental to our grades.
Despite working with plenty of Spanish speaking colleagues during my part-time job at McDonald’s, I still only got a “C” in Spanish because I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was have fun, eat all the apple pies I could and get paid my big $4 an hour!
My parents were clearly perturbed by my lack of effort (hey, isn’t working at McDonald’s from 6am-1pm on Saturday’s pretty good?) and spoke to me one evening and asked, “How are you ever going to be a great business man if you can’t even get an “A” in math? Do you think award-winning scientists get “Cs” in high school chemistry? Do you think Andre Agassi doesn’t practice hard every single day?”
Crap, I think they are right. Shoot, if I ever have surgery, the physician better not have slacked off in surgery class!
Related: The Most Ridiculous Trip To The Principal’s Office Ever
A Mansion Party Gave Me Hope
My parents’ questions stuck with me because ever since I was 12, I wanted to be a “businessman.” I remember getting picked up in a sweet Mercedes 300 SEL by one of my father’s friends to take us to their mansion party. The car was jet black with matching black tinted windows.
Inside, there was a couple bottles of coconut juice, and the seats were covered in some kind of fur. The whole experience with the infinity pool, fancy car with driver, all you can eat lobster, and servants made me want to do what they did, whatever that was!
After the pep talk, I began caring about my grades through college. I didn’t want a silly thing like poor grades to get in the way of my dreams. You might still have your head in the sand thinking that grades don’t matter, but I can assure you, it’s better to have great grades and more opportunities, than mediocre grades and have less opportunities.
Don’t listen to people who say that grades don’t matter. They probably screwed themselves in school and are just trying to justify their poor results. If you can’t get ahead on your own, another way is to try and bring everybody else down.
The Question Everyone Should Ask
It’s pretty rational not to study, because studying sucks. Most people are probably “C” or “B” students given the law of natural distribution. Hence, do “C” or even “B” students deserve “A” lifestyles?
If you were a mediocre student, who went to a mediocre school, who works at a mediocre job, why do you think you deserve more than a mediocre lifestyle?
You don’t, because there are hundreds of thousands of “A” students who are striving for that “A” lifestyle and you don’t have much chance.
The Solution To Save America From Financial Disaster
To get people out of debt, we need to make people realize they are unworthy of the stuff they buy, even though they see their neighbors live it up.
Maybe your neighbors all got straight “As” at some prestigious university and are all doctors, lawyers, bankers, or successful entrepreneurs? We can’t compare ourselves to others, because we don’t know for sure what others make.
It’s so much easier to just say that the Jones are all living extravagant lifestyles due to debt. It’s the easy way to justify why we can’t afford what others can afford.
Well guess what? There is much more wealth out there than you think with firemen, policemen, and dockworkers making $100-$250,000 a year, and government employees at the Department of Transportation averaging $180,000! 29 year old first year MBAs from the Top 10 schools all make on average $120-$140,000 a year.
Heck, janitors in the Bay Area make over $200,000 a year.
Let’s Make Big Government Even Bigger!
Given we have such an omnipresent government, and most people want big government or else the Democrats wouldn’t be in power, perhaps we should make it mandatory for everybody to have their grades and universities revealed before they are allowed to purchase anything above a certain amount.
For example, only people with 3.5 or higher GPAs are allowed to buy Armani clothes and Mercedes Benzos. 3.0 GPA folks, sorry, only Gap and Hondas for you!
The government can also pass legislation that limits your line of credit depending on what grades you got.
If you were a C or lower student, you aren’t allowed to get a credit card to blow your finances up.
If you get a B student, you get a credit card with a limit of $1,000, which increases by a certain percentage each year you maintain a 700+ credit score.
If you are an A student, you can get a higher level of credit and have easier hurdles.
The government can regulate spending by those who need the most regulating assuming there is a correlation between grades and commonsense of course.
Commonsense would dictate that you study hard and get good grades to give yourself the best possible chance of finding employment and achieving financial independence.
Just imagine if we had this big brother program for potential home buyers 10 years ago. We’d limit the number of people who had no business buying homes, and our economic downturn probably never would have happened!
Be Congruent With Your Efforts And Expectations
The people love big government and massive spending. Taxes are likely going up too. Hence, having government control our spending based on how well we did in school is a very rational thing to do.
In reality, all we can do is be cognizant of our own achievements and spend accordingly. If we can knock some reality into the average person, then maybe, just maybe people will spend in-line with their incomes.
Let all the go-getters who are passionate about everything they do soak in all the success. Let those who never complain and work when others are playing make all the money.
The rest of us can just kick back, whine about why life isn’t fair and tell ourselves why we deserve better.
Start An Online Business
Let’s say your grades aren’t that great, your alma mater isn’t very impressive, but you’re just as good as anybody else out there. Why not start an online business where it’s almost entirely about meritocracy? Screw the man!
It’s been over six years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic. In other words, after putting in the hours to write some very meaty content over the years, 10 posts consistently generate a monthly recurring income stream that’s completely passive.
I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total of ~$175,000 that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress site like mine in 15 minutes today.
You never know where the journey might take you.
Waal Streeter says
If you get the opportunity to go to ANY school, why aim for less than As? You should try the hardest because there are people all over this world who can only dream about the opportunity for higher education.
Smart Cookie says
OK so yes, people who work harder and more intelligently have much more earning potential. Of course.
But have you taken a second to consider it’s mostly C students who run the world? Yeah, sure, if you’re an A+ student who also happens to have fantastic social skills, you have a good chance at climbing up the corporate ladder. But then again, who made that corporate ladder? Quite more regularly than not, a B or C student. And what if people just plain don’t like you? Your A+ doesn’t mean much if people don’t like you. Less “perfect”ly performing people often have to develop other skills to compensate for their academics to achieve the same (exact) level of financial success.
To me you sound like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder academically. Many people are out of college within the first 25 years of their life. Do you really think that people can’t change as they get older? I know of many people who’ve flunked out of high school and straight on turned it around and made more than all of the A+ elitists.
There have been a wealth of high school dropouts turn millionaires, and college dropouts turn millionaires. And out of the few billionaires there have been on earth, an interesting amount have had dismal performance in “academics”. Academics isn’t a one size fits all thing as you may already imagine.
Your grades don’t set ANYTHING in stone, often times they correlate to your work ethic but believe me when I say, not always.
The whole thing about grades should determine your lifestyle just cracks me up. There are plenty of A+ students out there who work in careers where they make just the basics. Keep in mind because they’re hard workers they aren’t starving, but they might be below average earners financially. And like already stated there are plenty of people who were terribly performing students who make more money than you would know what to do with.
There are plenty of people who make more money merely because they’re in the right industry, in the right place, at the right time. And plenty of people who make way less even though they were the mythological A+ student.
Life’s not fair as in 3.0s, 3.5s, and 4.0s. In an even more interesting point, there are one too many Harvard MBA all stars who severely destroy companies because even though their GPA was perfect, their performance in business is absolutely terrible. I’m just saying. Many companies are even changing up their policies for finding talent due to realizing a 4.0 isn’t always the employee they need. Sometimes the 3.0 student can hustle much better than the 3.8. I’ll let you think what you want, but I believe this article is incredibly out of touch.
I find it amusing how many folks have taken the grades analogy *literally* here. I see citing “C students” and “A Lifestyles” as purely metaphoric. What Sam is saying is that folks who put in a half-ass effort seem to have an expectation of an “A” lifestyle, despite the fact that they’re not putting in A-level work.
I see it as being completely about personal responsibility, and I agree wholeheartedly. I think the affluence of America that began with the Baby Boomer generation really corrupted the general work ethic of an awful lot of Americans. Too many of us came to take for granted a standard of living that, really, we were just plain lucky to enjoy. We forgot about the hard work required of earlier generations just to achieve what we would consider a “livable” existence.
That “forgetfulness” is biting an awful lot of the middle class in the butt now, as technology and globalization are eating our lunch. You cannot sit smugly back and expect an easy living; you have to work for it.
Sorry I don’t agree, the average students, the high school drop outs(my parents and most my family). Are actually the most successful, hard working, financially free people I know. My parents are first generation born and raised in Africa. We are of East Indian decent, they fled Africa in the 70s when E.D. Amin took over in Uganda and kicked all Asians out. They had a good life and were successful there too. They left the country with barely nothing and just the clothes on their back. They started from zero in England… Hard work and dedication got them where they are now. So grades and education don’t mean a damn thing IMO if you have a strong will to succeed. Granted if you want to do some more specialized like be a doctor, lawyer, engineer your grades will make a difference most likely.
With nothing my Father started working, saved enough money to lease his own store and eventually buying it. Then also went on to buy several other commercial properties and rent them. As well as buying homes and apartments. Fixing them up and renting them and or selling them. This was all mostly through the 80s and 90s, properties are all paid off providing him great rental income and high resale value should he need to sell. An my father is not even a high school grad, but he sure knows how to do simple math, and wise business choices.
Financial Samurai says
The simple question is, are you willing to let your students be C students? Or drive them to be A students and give them more chances upon graduation?
Yes, as a teacher it should be the teachers a job to push kids to do better. But we all know there is so much a teacher can do, it also comes down to the parents too!
To answer your question about do C students deserve A lifestyles. Well it can not be handed to them either, they still have to work hard to deserve what they get to get that A lifestyle.
As a high school student I was a B average student(3.0 to 3.1). Some classes I would get A’s, but you give me chemistry or physics then a B- or C even. My point is my grades did not reflect what I was truely capable of in the real world. My high school friends who were getting better grades than me are still not doing better than me financially. I would like to say when it comes down to the real world I ended up being harder working then most my high school friends. Most of them who went on to college, did okay, got masters degrees too. But once graduated, they felt they were owed something, they felt that 100k job should be just handed to them because they had that grade or diploma. Competition is tough out there, not all employers will just look at your grades. They do consider things like, did you volunteer during school? play sports? join any academic clubs? did you work internships unpaid or paid. Did you pay your way through college with a part time job?
If all you can bring to the table is that the fact you can get high test scores and that’s it. It shows to an employer that your good at taking tests. But if your some one who can have a very balanced life, it shows them you have leadership skills, organizational skills, and multitask many things going on at the same time as well as get average scores, you maybe better fit for the job than the person who got that 3.8 to 4.0 GPA.
I guess what I am saying is grades only don’t paint the full picture.
I think school grades really don’t have any correlation to life at all. I got B’s and C’s in high school, and A’s in college. Yet while other A-grade students are working McDonald’s jobs, I am building something that I enjoy doing. And I know of a few friends that got worse grades than I did are doing the same thing.
I’m a little disappointed in this article. There is too much emphasis on literal A’s and B’s. To that extent, I would say that grades are somewhat irrelevant in terms of success. Two very poor students that dropped out of school to pursue their entrepreneurial goals: Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. I’m not saying that getting straight A’s isn’t advantageous, because it is. The point is, you could classify the moguls I just mentioned as “C” students yet definitely live a AAA lifestyle.
Realistically, A’s, B’s, and C’s are relative and aren’t created equal. I really don’t understand the fixation on literal letter grades when there isn’t realistically a correlation between grades and financial success. And seeing how this is a financial blog, why is there so much emphasis on the literal grade itself. I see this as more of a philosophical dilemma: harder working individuals can be seen as “A” individuals where lazy, less motivated individuals might be seen as “C” students. Motivation and interest determine where you go, not letter grades.
I will concede on the fact that today’s job market is more competitive, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an outstanding GPA, but it isn’t a rule. There are too many exceptions to the rule to say that an A = success. Besides, wealth and success are also relative terms, meaning different things to different people.
Financial Samurai says
Ricky, what type of student were you?
They title is an analogy for people who don’t try hard and expect the world. In other words, delusion.
I’m still a student. I have a cumulative GPA of 3.5. I will admit I have sustained this GPA with very little effort, but had I made thee extra push, a 3.7-3.8 wouldn’t have been out of my league. Then again, I’m not in an Ivy league school either.
I agree with you that those who don’t put in enough will never get out enough, but it seems like through your comments you are very fixated on the letter grade itself: as the only means to success, with no exceptions.
I find it very ironic that I wasn’t even searching for this, but I stumbled across it:
“21 Ways Rich People Think Differently”
The actual author of the book has spent a lot of time interviewing successful individuals as well as employing many other facets of research.
Obviously, if you read through that, two things catch your eye:
1. Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality
This obviously goes along with the fact that we both agree on: you can’t expect to not work for a successful lifestyle. This seems like too much common sense though.
The second point is more profound:
2. Average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge.
It basically goes on to say that the wealthy (define as successful) aren’t concerned with the method that is carried out to achieve the result.
I am in NO way shape or form discounting working hard to get excellent grades, and am certainly not discounting the fact that many recruiters would choose a 4.0 GPA graduate straight out of Harvard or MIT in some circumstances over others. I am, however, pointing out that there are too many variables at play to concretely assume that letter grades determine success in life. If you meant this post to be strictly analogous in nature, sure, but it seems like you are being too literal with grades.
Financial Samurai says
Ricky, of course grades are not the only variable to success. To think so would be foolish. Get the best grades possible to give your best chance possible.
3.5 is fine, but it’s not high enough to get an interview at firms like Google, McKinsey, and Goldman, especially if you are not at an elite university. I wish you luck post graduation. Please keep me up to date with how you do.
As a Google Software Engineer, my GPA is 3.0. I didn’t come from an Ivy league school either. I worked hard on deliberate practice for years, contributing to opensource, doing my own pet projects and had an experience being a software engineer at a company before I got hired by Google just recently. :-)
“Don’t listen to people who say that grades don’t matter. They probably screwed themselves in school and are just trying to justify their poor results. If you can’t get ahead on your own, another way is to try and bring everybody else down.”
Public Relations Senior Vice President. A position that pays extremely well and requires no special education. One example of many. Soft skills, politics, white teeth, firm handshakes, and answering e-mails at late hours is all that’s required.
Grades don’t matter.
Kathrine White says
Hmmm… I agree with your post to an extent… Although it does seem that grades usually make a huge difference whether or not you do well later, that has definitely changed over the past few years. Things have become more quality dependent than quality. E.g. Obtaining a Job – yes, a company will look at your grades and qualifications, but they also now look at your personality, drive and presentability. In addition to this, experience ‘clears the bar’ compared to grades. I think employers have realised that it’s all about knowing how to translate your learning into something that can be industrially beneficial. I know a lot of my friends have tried to get jobs, but were unsuccessful even though they have great qualifications.
Gary Jones says
What about the countless wealthy people that never went college?
Do they not deserve a great lifestyle if they earn good money
and are frugal? Or this reserved only for college grads?
If yes, then college truly is a bubble.
Surely with so many people attending college it is better to find another
path, then just enter the funnel? There is limitless opportunity in the world, find a new angle. I am a college grad from a top 5 uk university. But I have plenty of colleagues that earn much more than me, less debt and a better lifestyle.
I don’t want to be rude, but why are you such a sarcastic person in your posts.
I can only assume that you are insecure about something.
Financial Samurai says
Spend time reading my other posts.
This post is a response to old readers who kept making excuses why they didn’t do well in school, or were refusing to study hard.
you are wrong wrong wrong. actually, most of the C or B students i knew in highschool are doing much better than the A students- who have plenty of degrees, A marks and work allllll day long. want to know why? CONNECTIONS- their parents or their sugardaddies or mommies, whatever- and guess who gets left behind? If you have A’s and no connections- good luck in this world! you will most likely end up with a useless phd, getting paid LESS than someone out of college- and no, I am not talking only about the liberal arts.
Waal Streeter says
You are absolutely right on the money about connections being important but that’s not what he’s saying in this post (he has another good post about connections being worth more than $$). He’s saying the “A” students are more likely to get a better shot later in life when hiring managers are checking GPAs. And in some fields I have seen they won’t even consider you as an applicant if you have under a certain GPA and you are dealing with numbers as an accountant, finance, etc.
Generally (although there are some exceptions), “A” students love learning, which means they probably will continue to be live-long learners and gain more skills and knowledge that make them more marketable throughout life.
I made some C’s in school, many A’s, so what? Question is: did the author of this article make good grades? He doesn’t even know that “ahead” is one word and not two –No thanx spellczech.
Financial Samurai says
Jordan, channel your frustration into the realization that not everybody can be wealthy, successful and cherished. If you accept your reality, you will be much happier.
I think it depends some peoople are unfocused when it comes to undergraduate classes. They mature when they get to graduate school and their grades soar because the classes are not as tedious and it actually has to do with what you want to do.
I think ultimately what matters is desire.
Yes, we can talk about connections, grades, experience, and all these other secret methods that open doors. These traits are all traced back to the desire to do something. As an engineer, I like to think about the root cause of things. :)
To me, grades are only one of an infinite amount of methods to open doors. In my opinion, overwhelming desire is what will help you develop these different door-opening tools
Personally, I always had the desire to make a lot of money. This resulted in me reading tons of personal finance books, researching how to negotiate salaries, make connections, research companies that were interviewing me, etc.
(I went straight from undergrad to grad school, but had a summer internship in between. I got this internship because I expressed extreme desire to work for this company, because I knew it would open doors to the industry that I am in.)
Highly interesting post.
I graduated from undergrad engineering with a GPA a little over 2.5 then went to a less competitive grad school and got straight A’s. Coming out of grad school I got a job paying well over 100k. I would say I worked hard coming into grad school, but I was still lazy. The main thing I was very diligent about was preparing for job interviews. After my graduate degree, I interviewed with tons of companies (mainly because of my 4.0 GPA) and received nearly 10 job offers. Using the multiple job offers, I used them all as leverage against each other to negotiate a higher starting salary.
I like working hard, but only if I can see the direct benefit. Engineering classes bored me to death when they forced the students to do all sorts of tedious work. I am very lazy when it comes to that. I would do the work if I was making money for it, but not in school, where I am paying THEM!
I also have very good communication skills, which I think are something that grades (especially in engineering) don’t take into account.
Financial Samurai says
Hi Jonathan – What happened in undergrad for you to get a 2.5? If you didn’t go t grad school, how do you think you would have done?
I was lazy as hell in undergrad. I didn’t study for a single test until my junior year. The classes bored me to tears. I was just completely unfocused. I had a few job interviews in a bad economy after graduating undergrad, but no offers. I think I would have gotten a job eventually at a 60-70k salary. I was able to get internships through connections during undergrad and these companies were interested in hiring me after graduation.
Financial Samurai says
So you are saying grades don’t matter really and what matters more are connections because there are people who will always take care of us no matter what?
Did you work btwn grad school or go straight?
Financial Samurai says
I knew I could count on you to have an opinion when it comes to grades! Come on JT, get them straight As, you won’t regret it! One last push!
Financial Samurai says
I am proud man. Only one shot, might as well make it the best shot!
Why do you need someone to get As? Ah well, to be young. Also, what is success? There are plenty of people who are smart, but who don’t know how to treat a human being or other creature! Also, perhaps if people stopped looking down on others we would all be better off. Instead of standing on the sidelines, did you ever stop to help anyone who needs it? The economic crash was not caused by “dummies”, but by ivy leaguers who got greedy on the stock market and at the banks. Also, where are all the jobs? There are plenty of people who were in the workforce for years, then lost their jobs due to no funding etc. Sometimes people also get money due to luck etc.
Financial Samurai says
Is it better to get all D’s? Let’s see how that turns out for your kids.
Robert @ The College Investor says
OMG…I’m a little late to the party with 76 comments already…someone started some controversy!
I think there are a lot of people who feel entitled to stuff they didn’t earn. But our whole education and financial system seems to reward debt and punish savings (until you actually need your savings in retirement). Also, too many people have turned over their self-financial control to the government, which is just wrong.
Financial Samurai says
But heck, if the government is going to bail us out so conveniently, why not right? Why not just kick back and NOT SAVE since we have great 99 weeks of unemployment and health care.
The gov’t has showed us time and time again that it is the irresponsible who get the most help.
I think it’s the effort people put in that matters more than the grade itself. If someone got an A just because they cheated and didn’t do the work is just not cool. Someone who gives it their all and only gets a B- or a C is the better winner in my book. And if someone can earn A’s on their own merit that’s even better.
Financial Samurai says
Well, definitely a cheater is worse than someone who gets a C and tries hard. But, if you get a C, but still think to the world you deserve an A, that’s when unhappiness consumes you!
Grades are indicative of academic success. Grades should be taken in context too. Straight “A’s” in Sociology or Geography is different than Accounting, Engineering or a hard science. Yes, he/she mastered his/her work, but may not be successful in life. As a former employer, my ideal candidate would be a B/C GPA at a good school (UCLA, for example) and a variety of other activities. The other activities may include some of the following: sports, fraternity/sorority, clubs/organizations, student government and part time work. This ideal candidate would demonstrate that he/she could handle a variety of things well at once.
Personal financial responsibility has nothing to do with grades or education in general! To reward good grades with things may or may not work. Responsible use of credit or your income stem from your personal value system and a few other character traits such as discipline, self control, and knowledge (financial Literacy).
Financial Samurai says
I just don’t understand why anybody would want to get mediocre grades.
I will gladly compete against your firm with only C/B students with my company with the best and brightest. This is why I love to compete, bc many folks think they still have a shot without fruit as hard or with average assets. In the long run, it’s going to be tough!
People need to be well rounded, that’s it period. There are “bookworms” who don’t relate to people, and there are socialites who don’t relate to books, and all that in between. Also, what’s your point with this blog? Also, many credit card companies are now trying to get people in debt that is people who actually paid off their cards. Credit cards should not exist: they were the start of trouble!
Cosmopoint Kota Kinabalu says
Do “C” Students Deserve “A” Lifestyles?
hmmm…. it sounds to me like do low IQ students, deserve a better lifestyles…
My answer… well yes. Definitely.
So many examples in the world how C get better lifestyles. Bills Gate… one example.
Well actually he is brilliant, only he got no passion in other field, that is why he drop out from Harvard.
I’ve known people that get better CGPA in their education, but so-so in their career.
and i’ve known people that just over the pass gate in their edu. but getting good lifestyles.
it is a choice i think…. and a bit of luck… a bit ;-)
Personally, i not really care about high I.Q… i more concern about High & Good E.Q
I believe with High & Good E.Q, can save you from bad/desasterous debts. huhu…
Sandy @ yesiamcheap says
I’d rather be a “C” student at an Ivy league school than an “A” student elsewhere.
Readers, do you believe that a main reason for tremendous consumer debt is because there are delusional people who think they deserve more than they can really afford?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
I think this is definitely a main reason for consumer debt. It really gets me when I hear people say “I don’t have the money but I work hard so I deserve to take a nice vacation.” Um…. sure, take a vacation, but two weeks in Fiji? How do you “deserve” that? Why not take a ride to a beach house you can rent for a week for $800 on VRBO? What about a relaxing “staycation.”
Don’t get me started! (too late?)
Financial Samurai says
Nick, so if you agree, what about creating a law with regards to college/high school grades and what you can spend, so people don’t blow themselves up?
Big government is here to stay, since the people voted them in!