To be the class valedictorian is the dream of every high achieving student. The idea of sacrificing sleep, friends, and experiences all in search of the almighty GPA is as American as apple pie and insider trading.
You remember your class valedictorian, right? Perfect attendance, perfect grades, perfect hair, perfect teeth… UGH! Just imagine the life they are leading now. Surely it is one filled with unimaginable riches and unending luxury. Although, if you’re imagining a life better than yours, well, you just might be imagining wrong.
In his recently published book Barking Up the Wrong Tree, author Eric Barker explores the life and legacy of these academic darlings and his findings were somewhat surprising. “Valedictorians do well,” says Barker, “but they don’t typically become titans of industry or people who change the world.” He further states that while high school success is a strong predictor of college success it is not necessarily a predictor of life success. Yes, valedictorians are known as reliable, consistent, and well educated, but out of the people he studied, he struggled to find success that was extraordinary. Simply stated, out of the the subjects he studied, guess how many had gone on to achieve greatness or life changing success?
The answer is simple: ZERO!
Meanwhile, lots of the “normal " or average students he looked at thrived after high school and beyond halls of academia. To that end, he cites a recent survey of more than 700 American millionaires that found that the average GPA of these titans of industry was a paltry 2.9.
Barker’s research indicates that students who have a greater breadth of experiences and are forced to balance their many demands and passions tend to acquire the skill sets necessary to be successful, not just in school, but in life. Specifically, students who are forced to prioritize their time and (sometimes) triage their academic work, learn valuable life and survival skills.
This is yet another reason why participating in music is important for young people. Students who are involved in music face greater demands on their time and acquire skills necessary to be successful after their academic careers have concluded. By participating in music, students are not preparing for a life as professional musicians, they are preparing for a life in any and every profession.
We've all heard the complaint from parent and students alike that "being in music takes up too much time and makes grades suffer!” And perhaps that’s the point.Remember, the average GPA of a millionaire is 2.9!
So, yeah… There’s hope for me yet!
Have a great week.