Wharton professor: Straight As don't lead to career success

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Monday, December 10, 2018
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Straight A's not the best goal, says Wharton professor. Report from December 10, 2018.

PHILADELPHIA -- Should you push your child to get straight As?

A recent New York times op-ed, written by Adam Grant, Professor of Psychology at Wharton, seeks to change the notion that perfect GPAs lead to more successful lives.

"If they make one tiny mistake, if they get a B plus or maybe even a little bit worse, they feel like their lives are over," Grant said.

Grant argues important skills - like creativity and leadership - aren't tied to a report card.

"If your goal is to get straight As, you spend so much time studying that you haven't built your leadership skills, your experience of collaboration, and over time, those skills become increasingly important," Grant said.

The author of 'Originals' says students should study less and embrace those extracurricular experiences, even take a class outside of their comfort zones.

"Even if you feel like you underachieved a little bit at school, that could actually prepare you to overachieve in life," Grant said.

Some readers disagree with Grant's take. One writing: "It's possible that you're overgeneralizing about a students and the faculty who teach them."

Another adding, "This (piece) is not only simplistic and filled with inaccurate stereotypes, but it reeks of privilege."

ABC News spoke with a group of college students to find out how important academic excellence is to them:

"I think if I was going directly into the job market, it would be different. Because I am going to stay in academia, I need to focus on my GPA and try to get the highest one possible and straight A's are an important part of that," senior Jessica Lang said.

"We also are kind of in an environment where people do strive for A's and there is that pressure and it's kind of hard to ignore it," junior Minah Suh said.

Grant adds, "I don't think it's necessarily the case that everyone is automatically going to expect you to have perfect grades in order to give you a shot."

To read Grant's essay, visit The New York Times' site.