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Is This Your Kid? The Top Half of the Bell Curve


My last article focused on those students who fall in the lower half of the bell curve based upon my experiences as a guest lecturer this winter and spring and interaction with award-winning professors around the nation. Let me clarify that the lower half of the bell curve is not limited to just grade point average. The bell curve I am describing measures professionalism, which is a combination of grades, attitude, work experience and emotional intelligence skills of a well-rounded individual.

As one of my former students who founded and operates a multimillion dollar business says, “The A students are the researchers; B students are the teachers and managers; and the C students are the entrepreneurial business owners whom the A and B students work for.” By the way, he was a C+ student academically, but a solid A in emotional intelligence skills.

Let's examine the top 40% of students who have the skill sets and attitudes that can be an asset to any situation. First, they will consistently attend classes and complete assignments in a timely manner. These students ask questions in class, or will perform and support the learning environment by timely responses or going the extra mile when assignments are turned in, depending on their personality style.

The top 40% of students have a natural curiosity for learning, and they seek classes, teachers, and experiences that will expand their horizons. The top part of the bell curve will seek out friends and acquaintances who are very studious in their work ethic. They show up on time, follow directions, get along with people and do what they say they are going to do. They will balance class work with outside activities. Many will be proactive in developing internships or learning experiences that will move them to the next level.

Many professors state that these individuals have the “it” factor. A sparkle in the eye, positive non-verbal communication, organization and leadership are written all over them. Contrast this group to the other group discussed in the last article who feel entitled and that the world owes them a living.


Is This Your Kid?

Bottom of the Barrel

Cream of the Crop

  • Misses classes
  • Demonstrates poor non-verbal communication
  • Lack of experience/frame of reference
  • Last minute/not organized
  • Attend for a degree
  • Whiny attitude
  • 90% plus attendance
  • Strong positive attitude
  • Lifelong learners
  • Professional
  • Organized and prepared
  • Associate with a positive circle of friends



Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at [email protected]

TAGS: Management
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