By Andrea Powell Azorin

Edited by Maeve Bouchez

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have overall better grades than you, no matter the amount of effort you put into your work and revisions? And why it’s so hard for you to achieve a certain academic goal, while other people seem to manage it with half the amount of effort?

A lot of students go through this, but they are never told the reason why they’re struggling so much, partly because most people just straight-up blame them for being lazy or not putting enough effort into their schoolwork. Those reasons are far from the truth; lots of times, students that don’t do well in school turn out to have many strengths and be very intelligent in many other fields – just not academically. But what does being “academically intelligent” mean?  

Illustration by Romano Greta

Academic intelligence is defined by all the skills that a person may have that are important for their success in a school environment. These skills usually include strategic thinking, collaborating in group work, time management, and more – all of these are traits a student may have that can help them get better grades and a better work ethic. People who are academically intelligent have a bit of an advantage as they are the ones who manage best to fit the school’s standards because they tend to naturally be able to complete academic tasks and receive good grades without having to make too big of an effort.  

The reality with most schools in the world is that, because they and their purpose for their students are purely academic, they don’t really care if a student is academically intelligent or not as long as the student gets good grades – meaning that they won’t go out of their way to make sure a student knows that it’s okay to be intelligent in a way that doesn’t quite fit academic standards and that they might have bad grades in school because of it. This gives those types of students quite a disadvantage because they will always have to put more effort into their work than other people do in any academic environment. 

To conclude, I believe it’s very important in all academic environments for teachers to acknowledge and spread the fact that not all students face the same level of difficulty when completing a test or assignment and that they shouldn’t be penalized for it. Not being academically intelligent adds not only more effort to your routine, but also stress – a big part of this stress can also come from the fact that this “disadvantage” is so rarely talked about and accepted in school environments, which naturally makes the affected students think that they are alone battling this “problem”. The solution would be to make sure students know that everyone’s mind has a completely different way of working and that it’s okay to feel like they can’t manage to fit into this academic mold, no matter how hard they try. 

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