December 30, 2009

If you Can't get A's & B's in High School Then Don't Go to College

I'm going to state this as a rule of thumb:

If you can't get A's or B's average grades in high school then I don't think you should go to a 4 year college.

Note that I said A/B average grades. So if you get an occasional C or D then that shouldn't alone hold you back as long as you're averaging B's or better. I'm also applying this to a 4 year college. If you don't have the best grades then you might still consider starting at a community college or junior college either as a stepping stone to a 4 year school or to pursue a 2 year degree.

Why do I draw the line at a B average or better? Simply put I think that if you can't pull at least a B average in high school then you aren't going to be prepared to succeed in college. High school is easier than college and if you can't succeed academically in high school then you can't succeed academically in college. Going to college and struggling then dropping out won't really benefit you. Or if you go to college and work really hard and barely manage to get C's in college then it will be fairly hard to find good employment with such a transcript. Generally I think people in this situation are better off pursuing another career that wouldn't require a 4 year degree.

Why shouldn't people go? College is expensive and it has to provide a good return on your money to be worth the investment. If you can't succeed in college then it is wasted money. Too many people go to college nowadays and they are wasting a lot of money by doing so. Only 60% of people who go to college graduate within 6 years, so 40% of people are wasting money going to college.

So what if you don't have the best grades in school, then what should you do for a job? Tomorrow I'll list some career choices that don't require a 4 year degree.


  1. I have to disagree with this article. I was a constant "C" student with several D's and F's in high school. However, I was involved in athletics year round which ate up a significant amount of time.(football, baseball, and basketball)
    I graduated in the bottom 25% of my class, but it was more due to a lack of effort and care. I got a 1510 on my SAT's, which at the time were out of a total 1600.
    I then went to Penn State University and received my B.S. in accounting in 4 years. I am now 26 years old and make over $100k.

    Your article is narrow minded and attempts to put a limit on the human mind. If everyone attempted their best more often, this world would be so much more advanced.

  2. Theres always exceptions to every rule. But for every unmotivated genius athlete that gets C's in high school there are 1000's of motivated average students who just get by in high school then fail in college.

    I used the word CAN'T in my article many times as meaning that someone is not capable of getting A/B grades. Surely someone with 1510 SAT score CAN get A's if they simply applied themselves. But hey if you're lazy and unmotivated in high school then you're very likely to be lazy and unmotivated in college as well as being unprepared.

    Of course the right answer for everyone is to apply yourself to your studies early on in life. If you do that then most people can pull at least a B average in high school if they try. If they're not willing to do even that then 99.9% of the time they're wasting money on college.

  3. In addition to academia, there are many unparalleled experiences that college life offers. The financial benefit may not be reaped in the early years after graduation, however the life experiences may definitely be worth more than money to many out there. The development of social skills, broadened horizons, friendships/networking, are all benefits of the college experience in which a dollar amount can not be assigned.

    99.99% of the time, networking and relationships will take you further in life than your GPA.

  4. There are certainly many non-financial benefits to college.

    I'm making a point that in general C students in high school won't succeed in college well enough for it to be financially worth the expense or lost work years.

  5. I have to completely disagree with this article. in high school the only A's or B's i got were in classes that required no effort. for everything else i got C's, Primarily D's, and a few F's. i even went so far as to take a year off after highschool. now i'm currently in college and i haven't gotten any grades lower than 85% and i'm the top of my class. in high school most students know that they are the last four years of their lives where they can truly be kids and they make the most of it, but after graduation people mature quickly.

  6. Again, I used the word "can't". Clearly if you can get A's B's in college then you were capable of getting decent grades in high school but you simply didn't try or work at all. If someone gets bad grades in high school and then wants to go on to college and prove me wrong by actually trying and studying and doing what they should have done in high school then thats great for them and I'd love to see them do it. But if you truely can't get better grades in high school (not for lack of trying) then you shouldn't go to college.


  7. I laughed at this article. The writer tends to be VERY narrow minded and ignorant. Surely, there could be other reasons why students don't get good grades in high school but when they hit college (for those that DO choose to enter college) are very much capable. I've seen students who had grades from F/D/C raise to B students, even A's if tutored and encouraged correctly*.
    I've also heard from students that bad grades were due to incompetent teachers, seeing as soon as I had them (someone who syncs with them) their grades raised dramatically. Some students also showed low grades due to emotional stress from outside sources at school which could lead to low grades. Do research before writing an ignorant article. 99.9% of the time wasting money? I really do wonder where you get that statistic from...

    *While it's impossible to go from F to A, if they take lots of time and practice an F average can become a C-D and eventually hit the B range. C-D students I noticed typically hit B's and occasionally A's when tutored regularly. Factors like outside life and issues typically effect life. Most students that choose to move on to college can excel if they try hard enough and put effort, which they didn't do in highschool. Moving away form the home environment usual encourages higher grades at times.

  8. Sorry Ignore that 99.9% comment at the end. While re-reading the comments I realized that I read the wrong comment.

  9. I stand by my statement.

    Sorry if this offends people, I'm certainly not meaning to attack anyone or anything.
    Theres a lot of good options out there other than college and 70% of Americans don't have degrees. I don't see how suggesting that our poorest students are not really college material makes me ignorant.

    Many of the B and A students are better off not going to college too. I know two guys who had nearly straight A's in high school and both flopped out of college. They shouldn't have gone and wasted their time, they were the exception to the rule on the other end of the spectrum.

    Of course its a generalization and obviously theres exceptions. But those exceptions are the 1-5% range. The VAST majority of kids who do poorly in high school will not do well in college. So they shouldn't waste the time and money to go to college.

    If you think I'm flat out wrong then also see: High School GPA versus College Success

  10. This article is crap. Narrowminded and ignorant.

  11. I feel compelled to point out that no commenter has actually refuted the writer's arguments. Unfortunately, people are not typically well suited to analyzing the quality of their own choices and are slow to recognize mistakes; they lash out when told that perhaps college was not the best choice for them or someone that they know. Given that many of the other commenters appear insulted by the writer's conclusions, I'm concerned that they are under the impression that a person who bypasses college is a failure. This is a particularly "narrowminded" position.

    In fairness, perhaps the author could have specified that his generalization is mostly aimed at those looking to attend college as a stepping stone to a career and to increase their earning potential. This aspect of higher education should at least be on one's mind while in school given that one day you will need to get a job.

    But in the end, not everyone should go to college. Many will not get what they want or need from a degree. Some would even be held back by attending college. Why get a degree when you have a great business idea or special talents that you can utilize immediately? If you want people to dream big, then many people should be aspiring for something better than college. If you put higher education on a pedestal to be worshiped and regarded as the definition of success, then you limit people's potential.

    And just to bring things back to the original argument, it is complete foolishness to not consider your high school grades when deciding on going to college. Clearly grades are not the only deciding factor, but it should be part of the discussion. These days, most schools are glad to take your money without considering your likelihood to graduate or probability of getting what you want out of your education (job, fulfillment, etc). An acceptance letter is not a vote of confidence as much as it is a bill.

  12. " his generalization is mostly aimed at those looking to attend college as a stepping stone to a career and to increase their earning potential."

    Yes absolutely. I take that for granted.

    Clearly there is value in going to college to learn and become well rounded, etc. But this is a personal finance blog and the financial aspect of college is far too large to just set aside and encourage everyone to go spend 6 figures and likely accrue significant burdening debt just to learn and grow as a person.



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