Opinion: Why Do People Always Link Academic Prowess to Hard Work?

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I remember when I was still in primary school there was this girl who was always top of the class academically. We all stood in awe, humbled and belittled by her academic prowess, she was intelligent beyond measure. To ever dream of being better than her in class was farfetched. But the question that was always on our little minds was how could she be brilliant than all of us without even seeming to put so much effort on it?
I’ve noted, with disdain perhaps, through both my secondary schooling and college year(s) that people tend to assume that whoever makes it into the top ten list is a hardworker which is not always the case, depending on what one considers hard work.
Last year, with my family away from home in the form of my room-mate and others, we’d sit and argue about insignificant things all day before a test only to study in the wee hours of the night. Stressing at this point, the bravest would go around knocking on doors asking for sugar and coffee so as to keep awake through the night. Soon one by one we’d all retire to our beds believing we’ve either studied long enough or that we’ll wake up in a few hours time since it was, at that time, already morning.
We’d wake up just minutes before the test, take a quick shower and rush to the venue while reciting that which we learned a few hours ago to ourselves. We’d arrive at the venue and the air of tension would be so thick in there, it weighed heavily on the students who placed knowledge-filled heads on the tables while praying silent prayers.
In this exams venues, the ‘Einsteins’ will make you look as though you’ve read nothing and know nothing. They could easily tramp on your self esteem, intimidation is all you get.
We’d write, the papers would be taken in, get marked and finally be given back to us.
Now this is where it gets interesting. When the marks come out and it is put in the public domain that I basically crammed well, people would congratulate me while making assumptions of what a hard working person I am oblivious to the fact that I only started studying less than 12 hours before the test. Nevertheless, I’d smile and appreciate all the praise for one does not spit phlegm of ingratitude in the faces of well-wishers. So I kept quiet and took all the glory in the same way a thief that is praised for jumping a high fence does not announce to praisers that a pitbull was actually chasing them.
As in College, the same was practically done in High School. I’d spend most of the weekend text-battling, essay-battling on 2go and Facebook with intervals of movies and series episodes and study late on the Sunday.
But to my surprise, when I get in the Top Ten everyone would somehow attribute that to not going out, being a hard worker and basically everything I’m not. And like in College, I’d keep quiet and not correct the false narrative that was being disseminated.
Now, from what I’ve shared and observed, I can conclude that I’m no hard worker. Same goes for other people that, to an extent, excel in academics. Sometimes the test was just too easy to be considered the fruits of hard work. Sometimes people don’t do good because they never understood the concepts. Other factors will be mentioned by people who’ve made the same observations.
To conclude, I haven’t seen anyone who claims to have not worked hard and passed his/her exams. Though some people are naturally born intelligent but without hard work all the intelligence goes to waste.
I think it would be in all fairness to say that not everyone that excels, to an extent (only including this so I don’t hurt the physics and engineering students seeing flames in varsity), in academics is a hard worker. Most students that chow courses are arrogant jerks that know they are mentally gifted in cramming so they cram 8 to 6 hours before a test and still walk out with a distinction. Surely we cannot call such people, myself included, hard workers.
– Isa Eneye Mubarak
Tweets @IsaMubii

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