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The Importance of Grades and the New Economy

Good grades will lead to good careers. Usually.

To paraphrase Thomas Friedman, author of The World Is Flat who paraphrased Bill Gates:

Twenty years ago, from a purely career-financial perspective, if you had the choice of being a “B” student from Brooklyn or an “A” student from Bombay, you would choose the former because America’s economic domination was so thorough that opportunities were abundant for even our average students.  The same could have also been said for being a “B” student from Madison, Guilford, East Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and all Connecticut small towns.

Today, however, many would choose to be the “A” student from Bombay over being an A student from Brooklyn or Branford.


The Internet’s power has created an interconnected world that outsources many knowledge based jobs.

In the 80s, many manufacturing economies did not see the challenge of outsourcing until their cities started shutting down.

Many children of manufacturing workers were “educated” that they would be working at the local plant when they reached adulthood. Consequently, many parents did not put much emphasis on getting a college education. Their now grown-up kids subsequently suffered as there were fewer jobs awaiting unskilled laborers.

Those who have jobs that can be done at a fraction of the cost by an English-speaking worker from a different country (India as the most notable) are losing their jobs at a rapid rate.

To give but one example, H&R Bloch, the noted tax preparation firm no longer hires thousands of American accountants to prepare basic tax returns. Instead, most of the work is done by Indian accountants who work cheaper (and many would say harder and better) than the average new accountant from an average US college.

Metaphorically, those called on to do the work on the higher end (where jobs are secure) will be the “A” students, not necessarily the “B” students and probably not the “C” students.

Many of the high school students we meet in Southeastern, CT do not fully understand that getting better grades will have a direct impact on their college choices and that their college will have a direct impact on their job prospects.

Indeed, many parents are still in the 1980s-1990s mentality of US world economic domination where jobs were plenty for any student from any college.

We recently worked with a student from Essex, CT. He had a problem turning in his homework on time.

Yet, he had grand ambitions for his career. He wanted to make a “ton of money on Wall St.”.

His grades, however, were consistently doomed by his attitude toward homework.

We met him when he was a senior at a prep school in Southeastern, CT. It was too late to shift his college admissions opportunities (a 2.5 G.P.A. would not impress many admissions’ officials!). He was admitted to a non-prestigious college in New England with no history of sending its graduates to Wall St. or other top financial entry ways.

We are still working with him in a virtual tutoring capacity as he hopes to attain top grades in order to transfer. It would have been far better, however, had he understood the connection between grades and potential college choices years ago.