Grades aren’t everything.
Yeah, right is probably what you’re thinking. But yeah, no! Grades really aren’t everything in this new and wonderful world.
Were you the kinda student who was all about hitting those top grades? Constantly pouring over notes at the most ungodly hours? Doing all you possibly could so that you can get the best marks?
Well that kid was me. I was a real swot as they say.
During exam season (and out of exam season), I saw more of my books than anything else, really. I would sit for hours and hours memorising hundreds of pages, literally. All so that I could then spit it all out on a piece of paper and get that grade I was so hungry for. For my history A Level I memorised approximately 550 pages. No idea how my brain even digested all that info and managed to keep hold of it. But it did!
Glued to my books
I missed out on so many family outings, gatherings, parties, and whatnot all so I could learn more. Sorry, memorise more. A close family friend asked me when it’ll all end! She said she’d had enough of me sitting in my room studying while everyone was out. I said, hmmm. Maybe once I’ve finished my uni degree?! Spoiler alert: it came mid-way through uni. Thanks, covid. But we’ll get to that later.
While we technically go to school to learn, we’re also there to set ourselves up for career success. Whether we’d like to admit it or not. And the theory goes like this: the better your grades are, the better uni you can go to and the better your uni, the better off you’ll be. So they say. Except life rarely is that linear. Maybe it used to, but not anymore.
Good grades don’t equal a life of endless financial bliss. Much as we’d like to think (and fool) ourselves otherwise. When I didn’t get that A grade in my Maths A Level exam it meant I couldn’t go to a ‘top’ uni – the Ivy League equivalent of the UK. But guess what? This meant during uni I didn’t sit back and relax. Not that that would’ve ever been the case but you know what I mean!
You are more than your grades
I worked hard to stand out. To be involved in extra-curriculars that I a) enjoyed and b) would build my skill-set. It’s all very well and good to know textbooks inside out and complex theories and all the rest of it, but when it comes to the real world – the one where a classroom cannot possibly prepare for you for – you’re best learning from there! The actual world.
When covid broke out, I stopped going to uin on campus. I was confined to my room and realised that I had been totally missing the point. I had been so focused on my exam grades because that’s why I was at uni, to do well and to succeed – academically.
But I realised I had totally neglected the other side of uni – to develop myself personally as well as professionally. To have the courage to fail fast, and often! To experiment, to learn and to see what I enjoy and what I don’t. To meet new people, network and engage in my hobbies.
It was around then when I started to make my uni experience into something different. Into something more than grades.
I believe that we learn by doing so I wanted to get involved in things that could teach me things, and more importantly to push my out of my comfort zone. Read here why that’s where the real growth occurs.
So I slowly but surely began to put a little less emphasis on my exams and more on gaining real-life experience. I began putting myself out there; posting on LinkedIn (not as scary as you think!), writing this blog not to mention a failed newsletter. But that’s fine because I learnt. More than had I succeeded at first shot.
Give, give, give and only then ask
I also started to network. Not to land a job but to actually get to know people. Networking is not a transaction; it’s a relationship. Get to know the other person and who they are outside work.
Many make the mistake in asking for things right away. But imagine if a stranger walked up to you and asked for your time? Would you be hesitant? Well, it’s the same if you ask a stranger on LinkedIn for a job. It’s selfish and unlikely to generate much of a response, if any! Give, give, give, give. Then maybe ask. But don’t ask unless you’ve invested into the relationship.
This year, I’ve met with some really interesting individuals who have such different careers and have taken such varied paths to get to where they are now. It helped me see that life, and by extension our careers, are non-linear.
I didn’t want to graduate uni with regrets. I wanted to be sure I used my time to do other things, as well as studying of course, to make me into a more well-rounded person.
Plus, we tend to regret that which we didn’t do more than the stuff we actually did. So, if like me, you’re still in college, use your time wisely. Sure, study. Because let’s be real, that’s why we’re all there(!) but open your eyes to the world around you.
Explore who you are outside of school. Find what makes you tick, what captures your interest and maybe, just maybe, you’ll gain some clarity on career path! But if not, you’d have gained experience and trust me, it’ll be worth it’s weight in goild.
So, dear reader, maybe it’s time to get your head outa that book! Before it’s too late!
Go meet new people, try new things and don’t be afraid to fail, learn and repeat.
Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.