Do my grades matter?

Meg Timbrell
Meg Timbrell
Content & Social Media Manager
3 min read

While grades can help get you into a great university or job, they are absolutely not the be-all and end-all. Your grades don’t define you. 

You'll have heard this time and time again, and it's tricky actually putting these words into practice with how our current education system works. It seems that everything and everyone during our time at school encourages us to obsess over good grades, or else we'll fail.

If you’re wanting to go to university, your grades at GCSE or A level will of course be a determining factor that can potentially lead to better jobs further down the line. But there are so many other ways to prove your ability and experience than grades; university isn't the only road to success.

You'd be surprised to learn that there are hundreds of job roles which have no set requirements, and you can apply to without having gained a degree or formal qualifications. Click here to read more about job roles you can apply to without a degree.

Billionaire Richard Branson famously quit school at 16.

  • Jon Snow - not from Game of Thrones but the successful TV journalist - got a C in English but failed all of his other A levels.
  • Sarah Millican, comedian, got a D and an E in her A levels. 
  • Steve Bartlett, founder of Social Chain, author of ‘Happy, Sexy Millionaire’, and recently appointed Dragon on BBC's Dragon's Den, was expelled from school, failed his exams, and dropped out of university after just the one lecture. 

While these all prove that good grades aren’t everything, you should still work hard to achieve the very best you can because… well, why wouldn’t you try your best? View your grades as a measure of how hard you tried, rather than your worth. Your worth is not defined by academic achievement. Yes, education is important, but it’s the experiences and skills you gain during your time at school or university rather than what’s on the piece of paper at the end. 

We spoke to Steve Bartlett back in 2017, who told us:

“The only real danger in you getting a bad grade is in letting the bad grade get to you.”

A 2002 University of Michigan study revealed that 80% of students based their self-worth on their grades (The Atlantic). The Atlantic also found that trying to achieve the perfect grades discourages risk-taking and creativity, and can lead to higher levels of stress and mental health problems. 

Risk-taking and creativity are fundamental in any career, and are key skills needed to be an entrepreneur in particular. By focusing on grading and exams, we are limiting creativity in young people, and this can be detrimental to future success.

Changing the face of education