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High School GPA Predicts Future Earnings


Replies to: High School GPA Predicts Future Earnings

  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Honorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    @lookingforward‌ - What do you mean, the right market? The study doesn't claim that earnings were a proxy for anything, they were directly studying GPA vs. earnings. I think most people consider earnings data interesting and relevant on its own. They aren't claiming it is a marker for a happy life, whatever that means.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,425 Senior Member
    "Marker." Who says earning more is, in itself, some measure of success? Do we think IB folks are better or smarter. more motivated or accomplished, than, say, college professors?
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Honorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    @lookingforwad - Yeah, "market" was obviously a typo since I said marker later.

    But your post still doesn't make sense, to me anyway. Who said that earnings, in itself, is the measure of success? Only you so far, as near as I can see. Like I said, they didn't claim to measure GPA vs. success. They measured GPA vs. earnings, period. Surely you are not claiming that earnings are not of interest to anyone, or even of little interest to anyone. You are putting motives and explanations on the study that, as far as I can tell, the authors never mentioned or claimed.

    You are making arguments where there were none. Why are you doing so? What is wrong with studying earnings vs. GPA?
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,425 Senior Member
    Would my reactions be clearer if I said, so what? The title and much of the article are about earnings- as if earnings is of some importance. Of course, in many respects, it IS. But then what? I struggle to find any more meaning. Lots of threads have argued do this or don't do that, to make more money. I like to look at one;s satisfaction, impact, the good they do. FC, you and I don't usually argue, so I'm willing to end it there.
  • collegeamateurcollegeamateur Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    I think we can all settle on one thing: don't screw up in high school.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Honorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    @lookingforward - I don't feel like we are arguing, we are discussing. I am only trying to point out that it is an old debate tactic to bring up a false argument and then shoot it down. In this case you made a false argument that the researchers were either studying GPA vs. success in life, or that they were equating earnings with success in life. The fact is they did neither and I think it is unfair to either state or insinuate that they did.

    So yes, it would have been fairer to just say "so what". It is certainly fair to have an opinion that the study was trivial, and I am not sure I disagree. Although even obvious correlations can benefit from being quantified. In fact, I did find it rather surprising that the earnings differences weren't larger, although a 12-14% difference early does get magnified over time when you consider what that means in actual $$ in your bank account.

    Of course you are right that earnings don't equal satisfaction, happiness, or impact on the world. But those are impossible things to quantify, although people try. Earnings are easy to quantify, and it is an important factor to the significant majority of people. There is no more meaning than that, but there doesn't have to be. Earnings are important enough to people to make the study relevant, even if it isn't very surprising. Of course, they also studied college completion rates relative to GPA, so the study had more to it than just earnings.
  • NewHavenCTmomNewHavenCTmom Registered User Posts: 2,028 Senior Member
    Could earnings be the difference in having a comfortable life and living paycheck to paycheck? I don't think they mean holy cow high income earnings, just earnings where one can survive, pay the mortgage, save $$ for retirement/college, raise a family without struggling. Possibly go on a yearly family vacation...etc.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Honorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    Sure, that is one potential aspect. And while this study didn't go past the age of 34, it is certainly likely that the person with the better record, let alone finishing college, will advance more and thus create a wider disparity in income. But let's stay with the 12% difference. So if, for example, Person A starts at $50,000 per year, then Person B is starting at $56,000 per year. Let's also assume the most conservative scenario, which is that Person B doesn't get advanced more quickly than Person A, but instead they get the same 4% raise every year for 10 years, which is the time frame of the study. Let's also assume person B puts the extra money into an investment account, rather than spending it. At the end of 10 years the difference is $72,340 before accounting for whatever they earned from the investments they made with the money. With decent results in could be as much as $100,000.

    So either saving the money to use for children and that future or using the extra for personal enjoyment and comfort, most people would, I think, rather have it than not (small amount of sarcasm at the end). Again, it just is what it is. It doesn't speak to them having a happy and satisfying life overall, just that they have more income to use in various ways. Going back to the study, if one believes it is even somewhat causal, getting a higher GPA will, on average, lead to this result. Of course it is far more complicated than this, and talking about an average when the individual results will vary so widely is of limited value. But to the extent one can take this data, it does show the potential power of starting out in a better earning position.
  • DrGoogleDrGoogle Registered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    I feel 100% better already. :D
  • snarlatronsnarlatron Registered User Posts: 1,638 Senior Member
    SAT scores are highly correlated to family wealth, and GPAs are probably too. That could explain a lot.
  • wannabefeynmanwannabefeynman Registered User Posts: 586 Member
    It is obvious that the correlation is caused by:
    The obvious relationship between high grades and hard-working habits/intelligence. Hard-working habits/intelligence tend to remain in university which leads to higher paying jobs.

    So, there is no direct relationship between high school GPA and income, but there is one between the things I said before.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Honorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    @wannabefeynman - How can you say there is no correlation between high school GPA and income? Where is your study that proves this? Just because you presume, as I did, that high grades are correlated to good work habits, that doesn't rule out a correlation with income as well. There can be various correlations to an outcome, of differing weights. It is quite easy to postulate that higher income families are better at teaching good work habits, which in turn lead to better grades. You need to support your statements, because on its face I find what you are saying implausible, since it is well documented that GPA's are significantly higher in higher income school districts.
  • RedEyeJediRedEyeJedi Registered User Posts: 446 Member
    So does the color of your skin, gender, social class, your college major, and even your height. Correlation does not mean causation. I know book worms in highschool who did all the AP /Honors etc and are now majoring in anthropology. They would be lucky to get a job in their field after college and even make more than an entry level earner.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Honorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    Yes, of course, for something like earnings there are lots of correlative and causal factors. A very difficult thing to study. In fact, while as I showed a 12% difference is nothing to sneeze at, I remain surprised the difference isn't even bigger, perhaps indicating it is a weak causal factor at best. Hard to really draw conclusions, the data just is what it is.
  • CanuckguyCanuckguy Registered User Posts: 1,171 Senior Member
    When one of my kids was a junior, we were invited to an evening with the school officials to discuss post secondary school options. The guest speaker was a university professor who told the audience that research is clear on this: How well a student performs in high school is a function of intelligence; how well a student performs in college is a function of conscientiousness and organizational ability; and how well the student do in life is a function of social skills.

    Here is a more recent paper on this topic:


    Interesting stuff.
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