The Student Room Group

Separating educational achievement from self worth

Now that all us A-level students have “a week off” from exams even though they’ll be filled with anxiety about the exams to come. I thought I’d ask the question not just for me but for other people too, how do you separate self worth from your educational achievements? I’d say I still struggle with this but I wanted to hear what everyone else thought
Reply 1
Hard to answer. I've never put too much stock in it, really. My qualifications are just stuff I happen to have done, and that's how I have always tended to see them (unless I'm being facetious with someone).
(edited 1 year ago)
I used to get very high educational achievements when I was at school and university. But now that I’m working and a few years into my career, let me assure you of this:

When you get to my stage in life, literally nobody cares what your educational achievements were, and neither will you. Those achievements might help you get your foot in the door for your very first job, but that’s it. After that, it becomes totally irrelevant compared to things like experience, business sense and leadership skills. I used to get straight A*s, got a first from a top university etc. and I guarantee that nobody I work with or hang out with on a daily basis would even know that. Plus you’re going to forget most of what you learnt in your A-Levels anyway.

Put it like this: do you, or anyone else still care about what you got in your end of year exams in primary school? That’s how you will feel about your GCSEs and A-Levels soon enough. It might feel good (or bad) to get your results at the time, but they’ll fade into the past just like everything else does, and you’ll be caring about something new.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 3
Original post by tazarooni89
I used to get very high educational achievements when I was at school and university. But now that I’m working and a few years into my career, let me assure you of this:

When you get to my stage in life, literally nobody cares what your educational achievements were, and neither will you. Those achievements might help you get your foot in the door for your very first job, but that’s it. After that, it becomes totally irrelevant compared to things like experience, business sense and leadership skills. I used to get straight A*s, got a first from a top university etc. and I guarantee that nobody I work with or hang out with on a daily basis would even know that. Plus you’re going to forget most of what you learnt in your A-Levels anyway.

Put it like this: do you, or anyone else still care about what you got in your end of year exams in primary school? That’s how you will feel about your GCSEs and A-Levels soon enough. It might feel good (or bad) to get your results at the time, but they’ll fade into the past just like everything else does, and you’ll be caring about something new.


I think you are doing yourself down. There is one person who should care about your academic achievements - you. They are an official record of the hard work and effort you have put in and the achievement. Yes - it is true that when you go into work no one really cares but that doesn't mean they aren't still important. What you may find is that in employment success and achievement come second to just doing your job. Over time this can erode your self esteem. To counter this, you need to find your own challenges within the work, and celebrate your own successes and achievements. Without doing this it is easy to fall into the trap of "What is the point of this?"
Original post by hotpud
I think you are doing yourself down. There is one person who should care about your academic achievements - you. They are an official record of the hard work and effort you have put in and the achievement. Yes - it is true that when you go into work no one really cares but that doesn't mean they aren't still important. What you may find is that in employment success and achievement come second to just doing your job. Over time this can erode your self esteem. To counter this, you need to find your own challenges within the work, and celebrate your own successes and achievements. Without doing this it is easy to fall into the trap of "What is the point of this?"


I'm not really suggesting that they're unimportant. I just don't think it's something that people should totally link their identities and self-worth to. As a young student it can certainly feel like academic achievement is the metric that determines your value and status, but it's worth noting that in later life the emphasis will really shift.
Original post by tazarooni89
I'm not really suggesting that they're unimportant. I just don't think it's something that people should totally link their identities and self-worth to. As a young student it can certainly feel like academic achievement is the metric that determines your value and status, but it's worth noting that in later life the emphasis will really shift.


It you look at the most successful people in this country in terms self made millionaires many have low academic achievement many were expelled from school or did not attend school.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfie_Best
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by looloo2134
It you look at the most successful people in this country in terms self made millionaires many have low academic achievement many were expelled from school or did not attend school.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfie_Best


Yes, that doesn’t surprise me. In fact even if you take “self-made millionaires” out of the equation (who are likely to be business people, celebrities etc.) and look at people going into traditional professions that ask for academic credentials (medicine, law, accounting etc.) there’s actually quite little connection between getting top grades and rising to the top of your profession. For example the CEO of my company got a 2:1 in Chemistry from the University of East Anglia, yet he’s the boss of plenty of Oxbridge grads with Firsts, PhDs etc. despite starting his career in exactly the same position.

It all comes down to the fact that the ability to memorise information and pass exams (especially in an age where information is so easily accessible now) isn’t really what the real-world economy is looking for anymore. Employers might give some credence to it right at the very start of your career, when they’re looking for transferable skills and have quite little else to go on - but that’s about it. Being a dynamic, savvy and influential person is far more valuable.

That’s why I’ve come to think that our traditional education systems haven’t really caught up with the demands of a modern and rapidly-evolving economy. But they’re still judged, ranked and compensated based on those old-fashioned metrics. And as such, they still foster an environment in which “academically successful” is the most prestigious thing you can be. But that all changes the minute you step outside of that bubble.

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