In my reading I’ve noticed a lot of anecdotes about people who achieve outstanding success, and they usually don’t get there by the normal academic route. There’s Steve Jobs, of course, who I covered in this series of posts. Then there are several mentions of successful people in Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. The idea that college isn’t needed for success came up again in How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough.
As a former top performing student, I wonder how much to encourage my kids to stay top performing. (That’s where my kids are now.) Because I’m starting to think that being a stellar student actually teaches out (or un-learns) some skills you need. I’m still collecting data. So, I’m also going to start taking note when I hear of someone who is a success who was a stellar student.
Antonin Scalia, who was a Justice on the Supreme Court, was valedictorian of his high school, first in his class at his university, and magna cum laude at Harvard Law School. 79 at the time of his death, still serving on the Supreme Court, he was definitely of an older generation. So the rules might have changed, but probably not for lawyers.
In any case, I’ll add that as a data point. You want to be on the Supreme Court? That’s one place where academic excellence is one way to get there.