“C’s get degrees!”

If you’re in college long enough, you are bound to hear that infamous phrase. Or maybe you’ve heard its cousin, in the form of a riddle:

Q: What do you call an engineering major who graduated with only 1 “A” in all of her Math and Science courses?

A: An engineer. 

Let’s admit it – there’s some truth to the sentiments displayed by such popular quotes. If you pass the required courses and you reach 120 credits, you get to walk the same stage and receive the same diploma as all of your peers. Earning a college degree is no small task, and everyone who reaches that finish line should be very proud.

Furthermore, there may be times when we will have to accept a “C,” both in college and beyond. There will be circumstances where we try our hardest at something that doesn’t play to our strengths and we just have to persevere, do our personal best, and muscle-out a passing grade. This applies to every aspect of life, not just academic courses. That’s okay, and it’s okay in those circumstances that we remind ourselves that “C’s” can be enough to reach graduation.

But there is something else we have to admit – these sentiments are representations of a losing attitude. The “C’s get degrees” fallacy isn’t a problem because of the grades it endorses, it is a problem because it suggests we should do the bare minimum required to succeed. If you can get an “A” or a “B” in the class you’re taking or the goal you’re pursuing, don’t settle for a “C” because it’s “good enough.” It’s not. Doing just enough to get by can keep us afloat for a little while, but that sort of approach will be our doom in the long run.

So the next time that friend who doesn’t have to study to pass the test complains that you are spending too much time with your nose in the books and not enough time hanging out, and insists that you should just relax because “C’s get degrees,” just remember another popular quote that may help you keep your eyes on the real prize: “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Accept the “C” whenever it is the best you can do, but don’t ever be satisfied with settling for a “C” when you know you can do better.