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High School GPA Predicts Future Earnings

Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley 6083 replies100309 discussionsFounder Posts: 106,392 Senior Member
You know all those maxims about grades and scores not meaning much, and meaning nothing at all once you get accepted to a college? It turns out that GPAs actually do have predictive value that lasts beyond high school. A new study showed,

"a one-point increase in GPA doubles the probability of completing college — from 21 percent to 42 percent ... a one-point increase in high school GPA raises annual earnings in adulthood by around 12 percent for men and 14 percent for women."

http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/20/high-school-gpa-predicts-future-earnings/70080.html

What was measured, of course, was correlation, not causation. And a one-point difference in GPA is fairly huge. Still, it's interesting data.
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Replies to: High School GPA Predicts Future Earnings

  • CatriaCatria 11199 replies150 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,349 Senior Member
    Weak, yes, but weak correlation is better than no correlation.

    Yet, do undergraduate GPA hold any meaning whatsoever?
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  • YZamyatinYZamyatin 620 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 627 Member
    These population studies are borderline ridiculous. There are a lot of things that are correlated from 35,000 feet that mean almost nothing on the ground. Yes, I understand the concept of statistics. It's just that there are causation components at work here on the individual level that make the population wide correlations little more than a curiosity.

    1,000 kids with a 4.0 will likely graduate college at a higher rate and make more money on average than 1,000 kids with a 3.0, not exactly a eureka moment. I don't think this tells us a darn thing about 1 kid with a particular GPA, and none if us lives more than one life, certainly none of us lives the average-of-a-thousand life.
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  • dsi411dsi411 2232 replies91 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,323 Senior Member
    I would have never thought.
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  • fallenchemistfallenchemist 24269 replies860 discussionsHonorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    Of course one can only speculate, but it seems to me the most likely explanation is that students with high GPAs are more disciplined and more organized, and this translates into better earnings in the medium to long run (and of course higher graduation rates). I suspect the earnings difference would be much higher but for the fact that people with high creativity sometimes don't do as well in the GPA department, but can be spectacular earners. But they are probably more "hit and miss", rather than "steady as she goes". When you boil it all down, this leaves the high GPA crowd with the better average result overall. It would be interesting to see if the highest earners were in the lower GPA group, which might support my hypothesis.

    Also, a 12% and 14% difference is not so trivial. Since this study was conducted in the early years of employment (ages 24-34) that difference is compounded year after year. Not only can that difference result in extra savings, but since raises are usually a percentage of current salary level a 4% salary bump is (obviously) larger for the higher earner. This difference in real dollars will also just grow over time, in theory.
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  • lvvcsflvvcsf 2274 replies57 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,331 Senior Member
    The cause is different from the correlation. The same things that make them better HS students, make them better college students, make them better employees etc. Inherent intelligence is difficult to change, however, motivation, discipline, persistence, hard work, etc. can be changed. So a poor HS can affect their future outcome. It likely that those who do well in HS already have many of the attributes and skills needed to be successful, thus the statistical outcomes.
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  • collegeamateurcollegeamateur 151 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    edited May 2014
    It would seem true, a 1 point high school GPA should make a huge difference, but are we talking weighted GPA or unweighted GPA? With unweighted GPA the correlation should hold for the entire range, but with weighted GPA I think the correlation holds less true in the 3.8-5.0 range.
    edited May 2014
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  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte 4292 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    Does this factor in class intensity? I'm taking way harder classes(AP Physics/CalcBC as a soph) and my GPA is lower than people who are taking on-level classes, but I'm fairly certain I will have a higher income than them.

    It sounds like the correlation is so weak that you might as well pretend there is no correlation.
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  • samonealsamoneal 2 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Sounds like a weak correlation but it is intriguing. I know some students that had very high GPAs in high school and took a rigorous collegiate prep course load but did not graduate from college. This was due to lack of incorporating study habits and time management while in college.
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  • ElectroPennDadElectroPennDad 49 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    It makes sense. The people who didn't do well in my high school have not done well financially either. I don't know why it is such a surprise to people
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  • collegeamateurcollegeamateur 151 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    @ElectroPennDad I think what's surprising to many is just how many more people with let's say a 3.88 GPA get into college and make more money than someone with a 2.88 GPA. Obviously higher GPAs look better to colleges, and the better college education you can get the better your employment options tend to be (I mean, let's be honest, people from Harvard, Cal, and even the University of Arizona will probably end up higher in the pecking order than people from Cal State Dominguez Hills for highly competitive jobs). However, a 21-42% difference in the completion of college education is just whopping.
    That being said, just because you graduate high school with flying colors doesn't necessarily mean you'll complete college and end up with 5-digit monthly salaries. However, you do handicap yourself by not doing well in high school, and the world isn't very forgiving in that regard. We do live in America, where second chances are easier to come by than in Europe or Asia, and for that I love the American educational system. But wouldn't you rather do well in high school and avoid all that trouble in the first place? If our educational system is failing us in any way, it's that our college counselors and teachers are not brutally honest about what happens if you do screw up in high school.
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  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte 4292 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    However, a 21-42% difference in the completion of college education is just whopping.

    Why would that be a surprise? For a full point of GPA? This is less than what I would expect had this study not been done really.
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  • fractalmstrfractalmstr 2269 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,283 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    These population studies are borderline ridiculous. There are a lot of things that are correlated from 35,000 feet that mean almost nothing on the ground. Yes, I understand the concept of statistics. It's just that there are causation components at work here on the individual level that make the population wide correlations little more than a curiosity.

    Cynical comment: Curiosity generates ad revenue!

    Non-cynical comment: Causation studies are hard to develop (many factors and unknowns), which is why we have correlation studies. I agree though that correlation studies like this are simply hilarious... needlessly drawn out for such a simple and common sense premise. It also doesn't take into account late bloomers.
    edited May 2014
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32206 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,542 Senior Member
    Who says earnings are the right marker? Anyone have a link to the actual study?
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