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Grades don't matter

A college retrospective

thoughts
3 m
ins
Apr 24
, 2018

Background

We often hear a similar sentiment from rich, and successful people, some of them didn’t even finish college. But they’re probably outliers.

They’re one of the few who dropped out and became super successful. Most dropouts however, don’t end up anywhere near the amount of success that the Gates and Jobs of the world have.

An alternate perspective

Four years ago today, I graduated BS in Computer Science with the highest honor (summa cum laude).

As someone who thought that grades matter a lot, maybe I could provide a unique perspective to hammer down on the argument that grades don’t really matter.

It feels so significant while you’re in college. Because it is. The educational system is rigged to work that way. College is a bubble, and grades probably don’t matter as much as you think it does; especially later in life.

Young, not-so-dumb, broke college kid

I was in two scholarship programs. I wasn’t paying a single cent and was also receiving monthly allowances from the university and the government.

I was eligible for those two programs because we were dirt poor – literally below the poverty line. Even with all the support from the university and the government, my family still struggled to make ends meet.

Excellent grades mattered a lot back then, because they’re the only reason I was able to go to college.

What good grades has gotten me

I received an automatic signing bonus on my first job after college but that’s about it. Pretty underwhelming, right?

Realize that people don’t care about your achievements. To matter, you have to provide some kind of value to them. It’s hard, but there’s no other way around it. Marks on paper don’t make it any easier.

What matters more

Discovering your passion

College is a good time to figure out what you want to do, what you’re good at or have the potenial in.

Given the set of options I had back then, I needed to choose before entering. I was lucky enough to end up loving what I do.

The good grades I got are mostly a side-effect of my true desire to learn followed by a strong motivation to get out of poverty.

If you still can’t figure out what you like doing, be patient, and keep on learning.

Practicing how to learn

Learning is a valuable skill. It should never stop even after formal education. College presents opportunities to practice it.

If there’s one thing college is trying to tell you, it is that you can learn anything.

You enter as a freshman with an almost similar base of knowledge as everyone else in your batch and then some years later, end up with a vastly diverse set of skills just because you chose what you wanted to learn. Always remember that.

Making good relationships

College gives you access to a network of people you have an opportunity to build good, potentially long-term relationships with.

Most of my closest friends up until today are friends I made during those years. If you’re lucky, you can even be business partners with some of them.

Also, it will be a bit harder to form lasting friendships after.

Establishing your values

College is usually the time when you practice being independent. It’s when you learn a whole lot about yourself.

This is a good time to practice discipline and form good habits that you’ll hopefully carry throughout your life.

You’d be surprised how effortlessly you’ll continue your habits way after these formative years.

Conclusion

Enjoy college while you’re at it! It’s easy to get caught up with all the requirements and deadlines, but please don’t lose sight of the things that actually matter.

I wish I could tell all of this to my college self. If you’re still studying, please keep these things at the back of your head.. while reviewing for the upcoming exams, of course. 😉


If you have any thoughts to add, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. Cheers! 🍻

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