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The 'good' student belives that the signaling mechanism and the understanding of the material is the same thing, they're identical. For those students nothing exists beyond (the signals of) good marks. So in a way they don't really game.

I find it difficult to imagine that anyone would actually believe the two are equivalent, but maybe I've just been hanging around HN-types too much.

I'm engaged to a "good student". She was damn well and fully aware, her entire life, that the signalling mechanism is very different from actually learning useful material.

As a two grad-student couple, we have mutual academic envy. I envy that she finds it easy to memorize large sums of material and pander to the system. She envies that I find it easy to acquire an intuition for the material I really care about. I envy that she's "saving the world" as an ecologist. She envies that I can make a good living out of my field.


I have friends who firmly believe that getting high grades is all that matter and that surely university is taking care of making them employable.

Arguing with them on that point proved useless in the past, but now that I get interesting internships while they don't, I believe they are somehow waking up.

At least, focusing on being a 'good student' is not the worst strategy out there. If one day you come to be aware of it, it's not an irrecuperable situation.

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