Sorry for Bursting Your Bubble
As finals week comes to a close and we as students enjoy the brief honeymoon phase after completion of tests and before the heart-wrenching torment of checking grades, I write this blog as a reminder of priorities and purpose.
No matter how many times we try to alleviate each other’s fears of underperforming in a particular subject with the popular phrase “grades don’t matter,” it never seems to stick. For our entire academic careers, society emphasized the need to get good grades to ultimately succeed in life (as it’s so specifically defined by..umm..no one). That was the goal. A’s are better than B’s and C’s were for everyone else. But now many of us are in the twilight stages of our formal education and seek not another round of interviews from admissions officers, but rather from hiring managers perfectly satisfied with few details of our education other than the abbreviations MBA and UCSD. How could this be? Don’t they care about the fact that I crammed the whole night before the final, found the grading loopholes, pawned all the hard work on my group just to get that pointy letter so admired by my parents and peers? Now I’m confused.
Think back to any time you left a class confident and proud of how much you’d learned only to receive the C on your report card, or conversely when you sat in the back and G-chatted all day and “earned” an A. Bubble Burster #1: Grades are no more a proxy for knowledge than money is for success. How often do we gaze at the millionaire with the fancy car only to find that he or she is plagued with stress and loneliness inside? Studies abound with the counterintuitive conclusion that in fact “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Sounds great on a fortune cookie but it’s not true for me. If I had a nicer car or new iPad, all my problems would go away and everyone would love me. It may sound ridiculous in print, but it’s a thought that pervades most of our lives on a daily basis. Grades are no different. While salary is, theoretically, commensurate with our contributions to a company (and by extension, the world), grades are supposed to be the quantification of our knowledge and contribution to the class. The souvenir from my time in the trenches I can take home and put up on the refrigerator. But of course they alone don’t dictate the amount of success one can achieve, just ask FDR, who only received average grades in school. Bubble Burster #2: Classes are among the least important parts of business school. Though our classes are interesting and seemingly applicable, let’s not forget why we’re all here. In the six months we’ve all been together I’ve met some extraordinary people. I can say confidently that several Rady ‘13s will be at my wedding and at my funeral. We’ll innovate and negotiate our ways to our dream jobs. We have access to a phenomenal assortment of resources to broaden our horizons and help us home in on our true passions. Where else will local CEOs come to share their wisdom, HR reps convene for the sole purpose of hiring us, and students relax with a beer and a shuffleboard table?
The purpose of business school isn’t to sequester ourselves in a pile of books and notes for two years, but to create relationships, develop our interests, and find a career that is as rewarding as it is high paying. Please try to escape the paradigm of obsolete measures of evaluation and set your priorities to match your long term goals. And if for now that includes a cold beer and throwing some pucks, then I’ll see you at Home Plate.