I heard one day on the radio about a study that showed that people that in school were the best or the worst are the ones more likely to succeed in life. If you are in the middle of the bunch you will be an average dude basically.

I tried searching for the study but couldn't find anything.

Does such a study exist?

  • @Downwoter: Why the downvote? In the FAQ there is this: If you have a question about the accuracy of public claims made in the media or elsewhere, if you're interested in the evidence behind what you hear or read, then you are in the right place. So I believe my question is within the types of questions I can ask. If you think something is wrong with it add also a comment so I can improve it.
    – john
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 12:36
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    the reason this was downvoted was because you didn't site a source of notability. As the question is now, we would simply have to "take your word for it" that this was really claimed on the radio. Take a look at the skeptics welcome page
    – Ephraim
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 12:41
  • @Ephraim: thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately I can't cite a source of notability because I didn't retain the source of the study and I can't find it either so this question is the last point I'm doing to actually find out if its for real or not.
    – john
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 12:50
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    john, you need to show a modicum of effort and do a little research before posting.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 12:53
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    Welcome to Skeptics! At the risk of piling on, the question has little meaning unless success is first defined. For example, if you define it as "get good grades in college", high-school grades are a good predictor. Understanding the definitions involved in the original claim is one of the reasons for asking for such references.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


Correlation != Causation

What does this mean? Essentially it means that because two things are corellated to each other does not mean that one begets the other. The notions of "Good Schools" vs. "Bad Schools" seems to imply that the school itself is the major contributing factor and influence to a childs education. Many studies, politicians, and everyday people espouse this but it may not be reflective of reality.

Poverty affects childrens brains

According to this article about this study done in 2008, they have found that the brains of impoverished children 9-10 compared to wealthy children of the same age have such stark contrasts that it is as if comparing a healthy brain to that of a stroke victim. Environment and diet play an enormous factor when it comes to a child's brain development.

Another contributing factor that may play into a child's performance at school is parental involvement.

Does parental involvement influence the academic achievement of Mexican-American eighth graders? Sorry paywall, but the abstract summarizes the findings

This study finds a significant corellation between parental involvement and better educational outcomes for their children. It stands to reason here also that middle and upper class parents have more time and ability to be involved in their children's education than say an impoverished family working multiple jobs.

So the final correlation to tie these two together is in a study that finds that socioeconomic index is the most likely indicator of negative school outcomes.


So I would reason that such a hypothetical claim in light of this evidence doesn't stand to reason. The school itself has little influence on your education, it has to do with your family and community background that you grew up in.

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    Maybe I'm wrong, but I understood the claim to be a comparison of children within the same school, not a comparison between schools.
    – Sam I Am
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 14:29
  • @SamIAm I don't know, the wording of the question was just awful. I thought he meant chances of succeeding in life were better if went to best school? If the OP would learn better english then these kinds of confusions wouldn't happen. Commented May 4, 2012 at 14:37
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    Be nice, @maple_shaft. There are a billion people who are learning English as a second language. That's a big audience who should have access to skeptical resources too.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 15:08
  • @Oddthinking I am not excluding those who speak English as a second language, I am just criticizing the OP to be more careful with grammar so that others can understand what is really being asked. Commented May 4, 2012 at 15:31
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    The claim is correlation not causation.
    – Chad
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 17:49

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