YOUR STRENGTH OF CHARACTER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR GPA
Updated: Mar 1
Your GPA is an imperfect indicator of how successful you will be.
It measures how well you can follow old systems. It’s predicated on the belief that those same systems will provide for your success in the future. The post-2020 world has shown us that nothing guarantees success more than your strength of character.
THE ORIGINAL HALF-TRUTH we’re told when we enter the American education system is that our grades and GPA will decide our trajectory in life.
I graduated Princeton University with a GPA I’m not proud of (in hindsight). It was certainly lower than my parent’s expectations of me and the track record I had built up in high school and earlier.
At the time, I was terrified that I was letting everyone down. When I first entered Princeton University, I had built a stellar profile as a rising black engineer, and I had the accolades and the co-signs to prove it. I was awarded the African American Future Achievers Award by the Ronald McDonald House Charities organization, and I was part of the first cohort of Robert F. Smith’s Fund II Foundation S.T.E.M. Scholar’s program.
At a certain point during my first year in college, I realized I was living a lie, that I did not want to be an engineer for real, nor was I willing to put in the work necessary. The truth was all I wanted to do was get to the end of the road, where I could kick my feet up and be a technical co-founder of a billion-dollar startup just like the entrepreneurs I looked up to. BUT THERE ARE no shortcuts in this life, everything’s a process.
I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND that back then, so I railed against the systems around me and felt defeated and drained by a world I felt didn’t truly understand me as an individual.
I had a rough time because I was attempting to do something that had no precedent: crafting a personal legend built uniquely for Bayode Okusanya.
DURING MY EARLY years at Princeton, I was uninterested in structured education, and I was looking for answers to bigger questions about life and the world that I felt the traditional university system was not providing. I left the beaten path pretty early-on and I was very scared I wouldn’t make it. I eventually did, but not for the reasons I was told would be most important.
I made it because I did unusual things like focusing most of my time on meeting interesting people, connecting with alumni and building great relationships with them, and carving out a path based on Philosophy and Entrepreneur‐ ship that produced a set of experiences unique to me and how I personally learn – by doing. It turns out that even in those moments when we’re frustrated and things seem meaningless, life is trying to tell you something that reflects bigger truths about the reality all around us. All we have to do is pay closer attention to the lessons revealed in each moment.