When we’re growing up, we’re told that our grades are pretty much the most important aspect of our lives. Getting good grades in high school can lead to getting into a prestigious college, and getting good grades in college can lead to a high-paying job. Just because someone is smart and dedicated, though, doesn’t always mean they’ll get good grades.
There have been plenty of people who have found massive success in their lives without a top-level grade point average. Before you stress too much about your own grades, here are five people who struggled with their GPA but went on to become some of the top people in their field of work.
Al Gore served as the Vice President of the United States throughout the presidency of Bill Clinton and nearly became the president himself during the 2000 election. These days, Gore is a businessman and environmentalist who spreads awareness for climate change.
Gore may have gotten into Harvard, but he struggled on certain tests and received low grades in many of his classes. In fact, Gore got a ‘D’ grade in one class (Natural Sciences) and got just a 488 out of 800 on a physics exam (and 519 in chemistry). Gore was able to do well in other classes, however, and his combination of SAT scores and IQ test scores showed that he was smart and just didn’t apply himself in some classes.
George W. Bush
Al Gore would end up losing the 2000 election to George W. Bush, who became just the second president in history to follow in his father’s footsteps to the White House. Bush, like Gore, also went to an Ivy League school but struggled throughout much of his academic career.
Bush’s SAT scores were much lower than Gore’s, and he received low 70s marks in his PS14a and PS13b tests. Bush has talked about his grades, saying to the 2015 class at SMU that “To those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, ‘Well done.’ And as I like to tell the C students; You too can be president.”
Perhaps the most famous director to ever live, Steven Spielberg has been behind the camera for some of Hollywood’s greatest films. This includes the “Indiana Jones” series, “Jurassic Park”, and many more.
Spielberg’s attention didn’t go toward school while he was growing up as he was fully locked into movie-making. One of the main reasons why Spielberg struggled in school was because he suffers from dyslexia. “It is something that I have had since I was a child,” Spielberg dais. “It was not fun to go to elementary school and have other students and teachers not understand my reading problems…When you are a child you have to achieve a different balance when you find yourself to be dyslexic.”
During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, Jon Stewart found his footing as an actor and comedian, but his career really took off in 1999 when he was tabbed to take over hosting duties for “The Daily Show”. Stewart hosted the series for 16 years, and started his own show “The Problem with Jon Stewart” in 2021.
Stewart said that he was more focused on the inner workings of the real world while growing up, but was still able to get into the College of William & Mary where he starred as a soccer player. Stewart’s extracurriculars were more important to him, and he admitted that his college career mainly consisted of waking up late and taking other people’s notes before soccer practice. He spoke to the W&M graduation class 20 years after his graduation, saying “College is something you complete. Life is something you experience. So don’t worry about your grade, or the results, or success. Love what you do. Get good at it.”
“Top Gear” is one of the most beloved television shows in British history, and it wouldn’t have been as successful as it was without the hosting abilities of Jeremy Clarkson. Clarkson has been a part of several other shows including “Robot Wars” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
Each year, Clarkson likes to remind those who take the A-Level in the United Kingdom that he didn’t do so well on his either (or school in general). In an annual post on Twitter, Clarkson notes that he received a ‘C’ grade on the A-Level but has still been able to obtain success. “Don’t worry if your A level results are disappointing,” he says each year. “I got a C and 2 Us and I’m currently holidaying on this boat.” That’s just one of the many examples of Clarkson showing off that grades aren’t everything.