Supermodel Linda Evangelista once said, “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 dollars.” I once said, “I don’t get out of bed for less than 10 percent of my grade.”
While I’ve matured beyond this sophomoric mentality, those words still ring true today, but from a different angle: I still feel no guilt whatsoever about blowing off the occasional lecture class or “busy work” assignment, as long as I know I was doing something meaningful with my time. Screw 10 percent. I don’t want the A, anyway.
Grades have virtually nothing to do with what kind of job you’ll get, your success in life or the square footage of your future yacht. I conducted some field research over the summer to test my hypothesis. I posed one question to every professional I encountered: when you applied for your first job straight out of college, did your employer ask to see your grade transcript? The answer was always a bemused “Nope.”
If you nail that interview, they couldn’t care less about that C in metaphysics. So how do you nail that interview?
Jeff Skilling, ex-Chief Operating Officer of the now-defunct Enron Corporation, interviewed with McKinsey and Co. before he signed on with Enron. The interviewer looked him in the eye and said asked, “Why should we hire you?” He said: “I’m f*cking smart.” “F*cking smart” and “GPA” are mutually exclusive.
My boss at my summer internship met Mark Zuckerberg, the guy who created Facebook. Zuckerberg’s business card reads: “I’m CEO, bitch.” There’s no A in “f*ck” and there’s no A in “bitch,” and there’s no way an A in organic chemistry can hold a candle to the A in inspiration. Grades don’t define you-ideas do. This brand of confidence comes from a different place. Learn to appreciate all letters of the alphabet.
So what do these grades mean, with five classes a semester for four years? Countless hours buried in a book, stress, stress-induced zits, stress-induced binge drinking, stress-induced projectile vomiting.? An education is defined by Wikipedia as the development of an individual’s capacity to be a productive member of society. And don’t ever let school get in the way of it.
Sitting around having a scintillating, intelligent conversation with your friends at the Rat will contribute more to the person you are than memorizing the name of every muscle in a frog’s leg. You come out of that conversation at the Rat enlightened, invigorated. hopefully a little buzzed.
Your ability to gleefully indulge in that conversation-to brainstorm, to listen to your peers and evaluate ideas and responses with subtlety and harmony — that is what is going to make you a better person – better at the conference table, better in the courtroom, better in the bedroom (pillow-talk is underrated). Not to say there isn’t merit in hours spent studying amphibian anatomy, but the opportunity cost of the two points you might gain if a relevant question appears on the midterm is often too high. I’d rather be schmoozing.
Instead, snuggle up with a non-fiction best-seller. See a foreign film. Go to a jazz club. How about that full-moon drum circle on South Beach? Your interviewer at Goldman Sachs will be more impressed with a lust for the subtleties of life than those countless hours sacrificed for extra credit. They want you because you’re a good cocktail party guest, because you’re f*cking smart.
And remember, it’s not about skipping class in the morning because you were still drunk from the previous night. It’s about the previous night being worth it.
Priyanka Timblo is a junior majoring in Economics. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.