Are “C” Students Smarter than “A” Students?

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Before we start, Here is one Book that changed the way I work! Specifically in the area of time management. Deep Work by Cal Newport. I have been able to accomplish much more with less hours. When I heard that these billionaires were reading this much, I thought it was impossible. But Deep Work taught me that it is all about time management.

How can it be true that C students own the companies and A students work for the companies? I knew a lot of C students when I was in college. During my undergrad I was one of them. Most of the college graduates go on to receive jobs not even close to their major in college, C students included.

Sadly, I am not implying they went on to be the next Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. Many of them now work at Starbucks, retail stores, or they are simply unemployed! According to the Washington Post 72.7 percent of college graduates are not working in a field closely related to the major they received upon graduation.

Where did this myth come from and why are all of these C students not running their own businesses? Is it truly a myth, or is our generation missing a key ingredient to the C student business owner formula?

Let’s deconstruct this myth to see if and where the validity of this statement lies.


1 ) The difference between a C Student and an A Student

At face value a C students is someone who receives average grades based on their test answers or the quality of work (assessed by their instructor) they have submitted. An A student is someone who receives excellent grades based on their test answers or the quality of work (assessed by their instructor) they have submitted.

OBVIOUSLY! You could have come up with that yourself. But have you considered the following idea…

Commitment is far more powerful than intelligence.

Let’s say you are a C student. You are interested in Statistical Mathematics. You get angry and frustrated because you can’t seem to grasp the concepts. You can’t achieve the high scores on the test formulas that the A students are receiving with ease, but you are passing. You have two options:

  • A. Settle with the intelligence that you currently posses
  • B. Commit to working harder and longer than the A students

Looking at these to options what is the benefit of being a C student. You are required to discipline yourself to work HARD, push your mind to obtain new information and ultimately achieve higher levels of thinking.

Sorry, You are NOT more intelligent, but you are more committed.

Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge.

Forbes Magazine

This means that harnessing the ability to learn, retain, communicate, and take charge is far more valuable than raw gifted intelligence.


2 ) Who Works Harder, C Students or A Students?

Truthfully hard work is not a measurable entity. Time spent does not ALWAYS automatically equal quality of study performed. Allow me to declare an example from my unlearned undergrad years:

When I was taking Algebra 1 I found the concepts extremely difficult. I could not grasp the ideas. I tried and tried (between playing soccer, bicycling, and hanging out with friends over dinner), so basically I gave it a half-hearted effort. But I figured out a way to succeed! (well kind of) The teacher stated at the beginning of the semester that the homework questions would be the same as the quiz questions…AH-HA! I thought, “iIf I can get 100%’s on the quizzes by memorizing the answers from the homework then I can skim by on the tests and hopefully pass this class with, you guest it, a C!”.

And I did just that. Rather than actually learning the concepts in order to understand and apply new skills I just memorized the answers from the homework in correlation to the quizzes and then white knuckled the tests. I past, but I barley learned anything.

Did I work hard? You bet I did! It was difficult to memorize all of those answers, but did that “hard work” actually teach me anything? Not a lick…

That is the kind of C student activity that will land you working a job, not owning a company! Perfect example of a C student acting badly. I luckily have grown out of this sort of behavior.

This Example does not only apply to C students. I am sure there were a handful of A students who had this same work ethic. Now, perhaps they actually understood the concepts and received their A’s. But did they learn how to stretch their minds, did the pursue deep thinking?


3 ) Getting A’s Doesn’t Make You More Smarter, Learning Does

If you show up to college making straight A’s from a little bit of meager studying here and there it is extremely tempting to continue in this pattern of what I call Average A+ Academics. Basically you made it through college just as smart as you were when you started.  Sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia performed a study of higher education concerning this very idea.

Students’ lack of academic focus at today’s colleges, however, has had little impact on their grade point averages and often only relatively modest effects on their progress towards degree completion as they have developed and acquired “the art of college management,” in which success is achieved primarily not through hard work but through “controlling college by shaping schedules, taming professors and limiting workload.”

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

It is not about the grades you get but the ability to commit yourself to working with great tenacity. Study to learn not to achieve an A. Receiving an A is not difficult, learning is difficult.


4 ) The Attributes of a C Student Owner

The C student that ends up owning the company where the A students work has the following mindset, skills, and personality traits.

  • Insatiably curious
    • Determined to discover a solution to a foreseen problem. They are not simple satisfied with the current way in which things are done. If there is no solution they are determined to create one.
    • Example: Elon Musk wants to take humanity to Mars. Why? Elon Musk says, “Why Not?!”
  • Strategic Thinker
    • Willing to challenge the status quo of ones self, their business, or the industry. The Strategic thinker has learned how to look at things from multiple view points and then implement a strategy to build a competitive advantage above their competition.
  • Strategic Planning
    • Create a plan, stick to the plan, asses the plan’s success during and after completion. Don’t just dive into an idea, create a system that has a high success rate. “You plan to fail when you fail to plan”. Cliche, but true.
  • Organized
    • C Students that become business owners have learned how to become organized. They organize their time, employees, goals, values, and ideas. They know when and how they plan to grow their business. They are not easily caught off guard when things don’t go as expected because they have an organized system to handle the unexpected. Get Organized!
  • Salesman
    • I am not talking about the door to door knife salesman. A true salesman communicates in such a way that he inspires people to take action. He can sell an idea to his employees, a new product to a client, or even sell his personal attributes and strengths to obtain a mate. Every day you are selling people on ideas. The question is, will you be good at it?


Now that you know the attributes of a C Student Owner it is up to you to start working to achieve those skills. You will not learn any of them osmosis, you must strive to obtain these skills. Without the necessary tools you will be unable to obtain any of them.

Did you know that the most successful people in the world are the most avid readers?

  • Bill Gates Reads some 50 books a year.
  • Mark Cuban reads 3 hours per day.
  • Elon Musk claims that he learned to build rockets simply by reading books on the subject.

One Book that changed the way I work, specifically time management is Deep Work by Cal Newport. I have been able to accomplish much more with less hours. When I heard that these billionaires were reading this much, I thought it was impossible. But Deep Work taught me that it is all about time management.



Thanks for reading. Make sure you get the Jobs in the Future eBook. An essential resource to making sure you and your job are not at risk of going extinct in the job market!

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