Interesting Question: Will My Grades In School Reflect How I Will Do In The Real World?

We caught an interesting question on Bright Bright Great’s Twitter feed a few weeks ago from our friend and Ringling College of Art & Design Junior Drew Rios. He asked us, “I wonder how much my grades in school reflect how well I’ll do in the real world” as a designer.

Response by our CD Jason Schwartz:

There is a short and long answer to this. The short answer is “they don’t.” The long and answer that holds more true is that there is “most likely” no correlation. Extreme cases are usually extreme for a reason.

What Is A Grade Anyway?

First off, you have to look at what a “grade” at a university is usually comprised of, which is a blend of attendance, project work and how well you gel with a professor.

Even though attendance and team relations are definitely important factors of successful creative teams (as long as attendance means 2am Skype meetings) the true essence how how successful you are as a designer is usually just a small portion of an actual class grade. Hell, I thought I rocked classes at the University of Illinois and ended up with a B, or even a C (Design History WTF?!), which in no way reflects my passion, or true knowledge for the subject matter in any way.

It probably just meant I missed too many classes, wasn’t a great test taker, or just flat-out rubbed the TA the wrong way.

I do occasionally see a direct correlation in terms of extreme negative cases. Never going to classes and getting straight D’s or F’s at a university is not a true indicator as to how good of a designer you are, but usually an indicator that you can’t hold your own in terms of responsibility and still have some growing up to do still. Lack of responsibility as a student may, or may not translate into an irresponsible creative, but it is a glimpse into what that person is capable of.

However, that being said, some of the best design portfolios we see come from young designers that didn’t even go to college. They have NO grades, yet crush it. For some companies, having that diploma means a lot, for BBG is doesn’t.

A Better Indicator

Instead of looking at how good your grades are in school, a more “true” indicator is to look at how big of a splash you are making in the creative community, while still a student. When you post your work on or Facebook what’s the reaction from professionals and peers? How about on Dribbble? Getting a lot of traction?

I tend to find that good designers, who are getting a lot of traction through socially creative communities tend to do better in work for a few reasons. 1. They stay fresh and also involved with the creative community. 2. They are benchmarking against WORKING professionals. 3. They love what they do and want to share it to open dialog.

They crush it as a student and continue to crush it in the real world.

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

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