Is Education Overrated? Girl I met who has great education, but that's it.

lionheart's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 320

I just had a conversation with a friend about education and it made me want to start this thread to get your guys' opinions.

This chick that I was talking to is smart (perfect SATs, Amherst undergrad, magna cum laude, etc). In terms of academic brilliance, I think she is one of the most successful people I know.

However, from listening to her speak, it doesn't seem that she is having that much corporate success. She is not in a position of power, bitches about how her coworkers are retarded, incompetent bosses, blah, blah, blah. It seems that she has all the book smarts in the world, but lacks the street smarts necessary for one to make it in the real world.

Meanwhile, when looking at people such as Bush and Biden, it seems as though a lot of people who were avg to sub par in the academic world are attaining great success in the real world. This made me think as to why society views school as so important and why people care so much about what school one attended, GPAs, SATs, GMATs, LSATs, etc, etc.

So I want your guys' opinion. Is education overrated? Are the ones that ultimately succeed in life those that play the game really well rather than knowing how to solve the toughest multivariable calculus problem? What kind of traits do you guys see in people who succeed in the corporate world?

Comments (24)

Apr 19, 2009

Fail.

Smart, well-spoken, outgoing people succeed. You don't have to be from Harvard, but it sure fucking helps.

Apr 19, 2009

First you should consider your audience. When you say why does society vie school as so important that is different than why does WSO view education as being important. As you undoubtedly already know WSO users are nowhere near a representative sample o society as a whole.

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Apr 19, 2009

To me, someone who is all book smart but not street smart is no better off than someone who is just the opposite; all street smart with no book smart. The evidence, I know a ton of very smart people who certainly have the brains to succeed...and yet they're sitting at home right now jobless after graduating from good colleges. Why? They had all the knowledge and skills but didn't know how or where to apply and present it in a way that would get them a job.

The first response said it best: Smart, well-spoken and outgoing people succeed. People that not only have the brains, but know how to communicate and put their knowledge to use. Ideally, you want to be both book and street smart. Both are equally important.

To be direct to your quesiton, no, education is not overrated, I just think everything else is often underated.

Apr 19, 2009

In addition to the wisdom posted above me.

You also have to consider the other variables. The girl "bitches about how her coworkers are retarded, incompetent bosses..."

To make it forward in life, you have to learn how to work with people, not against them. Academically "smart" people often learn this the hard way and later in life because they are so used to relying on themselves to get work done.

I dislike using the trite and ambiguous term "street smarts," but it does get to the point. To move up the corporate ladder, leadership "smarts" and relationship management "smarts" become more/most important. Academic "smarts," of course, help too.

Education is somewhat overrated/underrated depending on how you define the term.

Education with the meaning of "learning the material" is a smaller factor in determining success. No one cares if you memorized every wikipedia article on stochastic or multivariate calculus in the corporate world.

Education with the meaning of "how good of a school you go to" is a much larger factor in determining success... due to the people you meet and the environment you develop in.

Of course these answers all depend on the industry, but I assume that we're talking about Wall Street here.

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Apr 19, 2009
lionheart:

This chick...
....
Bush.....

There are your problems.

Apr 19, 2009

you're also having significant sampling issues.. just because someone had poor grades doesn't mean they're bound to fail in life. just because someone went to a "no name" school doesn't mean that they're going to fail either. even in a purely cynical perspective, there are bound to be "statistical errors" to disprove your blanket statement

maybe this friend of yours is not being challenged enough. that is a legitimate problem. maybe she just hates her circle. or maybe she can't reconcile her self-image w/ her life and directs her frustration to others.

just playing the game well will eventually backfire when people realize you have no fucking idea what you're talking about. i have also found that solving a multivariate calculus isn't the key to a happy life.

all in all, education helps, but it's not the key to all your doors. unless you want to start a new solomon brothers, being street smart by itself won't be the key to all your doors either.

balance, balance.

Apr 19, 2009

i think it depends. in general yes, being 'street smart' and not just book smart is very important to any kind of success. and there are definitely many "dumb" people who've been extraordinarily successful.

but is being book smart worthless? i think there are tons of easy examples suggesting that this probably isn't the case (since this is a finance board, think people like ken griffin, jim simons, mitt romney, bruce wasserstein, glenn hutchins, lloyd blankfein, mort zuckerman...and i could easily keep going).

i think having both skills is important, but which one is more important will depend a lot on what organizations you end up in and what business you're in.

Apr 19, 2009

Here's the secret to life: Don't ever create anything of value, but pretend that you do. Don't ever work hard, but make it seem like you are. Speak intelligently, but know absolutely nothing. Make a lot of money, for no reason whatsoever. Be a parasite to society, and everyone around you.

What are you exactly asking? Although the implication is clear. You have zero values nor self esteem. You think with your resume, and that flimsy piece of paper is the only record in this entire universe of your achievements. It doesn't so much as bother me that ignorant/unqualified/weak people such as yourself can make a lot of money, but it pisses me off more than anything that during my first few years on Wall St., my desk may be right across from yours, and I may have to pretend to like you.

But here is my advice. Jump up 5 times, then run in a circle for ten minutes, and then read the art of investing, and you will make $10m and have your name plastered all over the WSJ and FT for the next 20 years. At the end of the day you are just a pawn. A sheep. You don't matter. And I know this because of your fucking retarded post.

Apr 19, 2009

Hmmmm...wtf?

mergerarb15:

Here's the secret to life: Don't ever create anything of value, but pretend that you do. Don't ever work hard, but make it seem like you are. Speak intelligently, but know absolutely nothing. Make a lot of money, for no reason whatsoever. Be a parasite to society, and everyone around you.

What are you exactly asking? Although the implication is clear. You have zero values nor self esteem. You think with your resume, and that flimsy piece of paper is the only record in this entire universe of your achievements. It doesn't so much as bother me that ignorant/unqualified/weak people such as yourself can make a lot of money, but it pisses me off more than anything that during my first few years on Wall St., my desk may be right across from yours, and I may have to pretend to like you.

But here is my advice. Jump up 5 times, then run in a circle for ten minutes, and then read the art of investing, and you will make $10m and have your name plastered all over the WSJ and FT for the next 20 years. At the end of the day you are just a pawn. A sheep. You don't matter. And I know this because of your fucking retarded post.

Apr 19, 2009
lionheart:

Meanwhile, when looking at people such as Bush (notorious for being the not so smart president) and Biden (attended no name school), it seems as though a lot of people who were avg to sub par in the academic world are attaining great success in the real world. This made me think as to why society views school as so important and why people care so much about what school one attended, GPAs, SATs, GMATs, LSATs, etc, etc.

I never realized that Yale undergrad and a Harvard MBA were "avg to sub par"

Apr 19, 2009
you-down-with-SEC:
lionheart:

Meanwhile, when looking at people such as Bush (notorious for being the not so smart president) and Biden (attended no name school), it seems as though a lot of people who were avg to sub par in the academic world are attaining great success in the real world. This made me think as to why society views school as so important and why people care so much about what school one attended, GPAs, SATs, GMATs, LSATs, etc, etc.

I never realized that Yale undergrad and a Harvard MBA were "avg to sub par"

Well, whoever gets into a school like Yale or Harvard is either ridiculously smart academically or is ridiculously well connected. I wonder which category Bush falls into...

Apr 19, 2009

It comes down to who has the biggest balls in the room. Taken chances that others wont. A lot of people who have had great success in school sometimes believe if they continue to follow all the rules then success in the real world should come natural. Well that's not how it works and one must have an edge and be able to communicate on all levels. If you look at Wall St. 20 years ago it wasn't full of yuppy bastards that it is today. There was common people from all different backgrounds and they were driven and really intelligent. Some guys (not all), from harvard, MIT and yale are the ones who fucked everything up. Now the little guy and usually the wild card in the bunch has to work three times as harder because these meet geeks screwed the whole system up. It's time for most of these guys to go back to becoming a lawyer and doctor rather than an IB, you're clearly not cut out for it.
Sorry if I went up tangent, it was necessary.

"I wanna Thank the Good Lord for Making me a Capitalist"

Apr 19, 2009

Those who make it to the very top of the corporate world have a bit of both skills. I do agree that you can get by solely on street smarts, contingent on the field you choose of course. As long as you're articulate, know how to play politics, hard working and surround yourself with people smarter than you, you have a good shot at success. Bush got at least 3 of the 4 right.

Apr 19, 2009

.......

Apr 19, 2009

The key term in that article is "sense of entitlement."

quote:
"This chick that I was talking to is smart (perfect SATs, Amherst undergrad, magna cum laude, etc). In terms of academic brilliance, I think she is one of the most successful people I know. "

This chick had solid grades (magna, not summa) from a solid school and wants the world handed to her. Unbelievable. A BA degree teaches almost nothing of practical value. It just gives a proper foundation on which you can build if you work hard.

Apr 19, 2009

Completely agree with SAC!

Also, agree with all that say we have to have both.... because both are important and complementary in a certain way.

But I'm one of those who believes that studying too much (Doctorate, PhD, etc) isn't woth it... just my opinion!

See bankers for example: "just" an MBA and go out there to do their business and get things done! Because at the end of the day, this is what matters: are you capable of making it rain?

Apr 19, 2009

.

Apr 19, 2009

Where are the wso elitists here to take the counter side of this argument?

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Apr 19, 2009

Who's to say that people who get into Ivy's don't know how to play "the game"?

Of course some (undeserving-) brainiacs fall into the picture, but overall, many understood exactly what they needed to do to succeed:

Getting into a top school - high test scores, good ECs, good grades

Getting to a good job - be personable/articulate, have a good network, but first get into top school (high test scores, good ECs, good grades)

Moving to the top in a good job - have leadership skills, have relationship skills, but first, get into the good job (be personable/articulate, have a good network, but first get into top school (high test scores, good ECs, good grades))

Sure, you can skip a step or two, but you're fighting against the tide.

The only difference is that for these Ivy students, they started the game before you even knew about it.

Apr 19, 2009
logimech:

The only difference is that for these Ivy students, they started the game before you even knew about it.

if by "they" you mean "their parents" then yes, at least for most of them.

Apr 19, 2009

Went to a state school for undergrad and ivy for grad.....

The undergrads at my current (ivy) school have an INSANE work ethic. The library is constantly packed with students (even over winter break); I swear they do nothing but study. But the majority of them have little social skills and when they do talk its usually about nerdy things like world of warcraft. They certainly dont exhibit the traits that first come to mind when thinking about bankers other than having a strong work ethic.

My undergrad on the other hand had a much greater work/life balance and the kids tended to be more outgoing/ have greater social skills. Though they tended to not be as book smart as my current school, I think they hit the "baseline" intelligence level and have greater street smarts on a whole.

Maybe the problem is that lots of ivy kids flood the street but dont have the traits to be successful once they get there?

Apr 19, 2009
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