June 27, 2024 opinion

Academic achievements do not define people

Anna Wilkin in St. Julian’s, Malta

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August 9, 2022. Pupils on the day they received their exam results.

Picture by: Scottish Government | Flickr

In today’s schools, those who achieve good grades are often given great respect, while those who focus more on hobbies such as art or simply don’t excel, face unwarranted judgement.

Having experienced both sides of the academic spectrum, I realise the disparity in how people are treated.

When academic achievement was not my priority and I was more focused on humanities and experiencing new things, I often felt overlooked by teachers and was not chosen to participate in class discussions.

It felt as though having poor grades in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and rather expelling at humanitarian subjects branded me as lacking depth, understanding and intelligence.

Teachers, as well as peers, assumed that I was naive and did not understand important world issues such as global warming or geopolitics. This meant that meaningful conversations rarely included me, as though my opinions were dismissed before I even got the chance to say them.

Due to pressure from my parents, I started putting effort into STEM subjects. As I invested more effort, I began to understand and appreciate these subjects, eventually becoming genuinely fond of them. Now, as someone who enjoys my subjects and gets good grades, I see how differently I am treated.

Currently, I am pursuing A-levels in Art, Psychology and Biology. It seems that excelling academically has earned me a level of respect that I was not previously given.

This highlights the deeply ingrained bias that academic performance correlates to personal worth and intelligence.

This preference for academic achievers is not a new phenomenon. Historically, rapid industrialization and the development of capitalism have placed great value on jobs which contribute to economic growth. The Industrial Revolution required people skilled in mathematics, engineering and sciences, laying the groundwork for the high value placed on STEM subjects.

Additionally, individuals who achieve in school, specifically in STEM subjects, tend to enjoy more high-paying job opportunities and stable careers. In society, these careers are often seen as more hardworking and disciplined.

But I think it is important to remember that arts-oriented subjects also require discipline and hard work. Simply because they require a different skill set to that of STEM subjects does not mean they should be overlooked.

Arts subjects add significant value to society; they require thinking outside the box and bringing new ideas and interpretations into society. Subjects such as drama or film studies demand immense talent and contribute valuable works of art, providing entertainment and highlighting important stories and new perspectives.

In my eyes, everyone’s priorities are different. Just because someone’s interests diverge from educational success does not mean they should be belittled or judged as inferior.

The solution is not complex: simply do not judge individuals solely based on their academic accomplishments. It shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

Written by:


Anna Wilkin


St. Julian’s, Malta

Born in Oxford, on September 18, 2007, Anna is currently based in Malta and studying online for a school based in Poland. Moving forward she plans to study Marine Biology in London.

In her free time, she enjoy painting, drawing, reading and playing tennis.

Anna is fluent in English and speaks some Polish and French.

Edited by:


Camilla Savelieva

Economics editor

United Kingdom


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