A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Never buy from a rich salesman and never hire a poor lawyer” (10/24)
“Incompetence is a double-edged banana” (10/24)
“The military is protecting democracy, not practicing it” (10/24)
Certainly Not News (CNN nickname) (10/24)
“Depresso: When you’ve run out of coffee” (10/23)
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Entry from March 23, 2013
“‘A’ students teach ‘B’ students to work for ‘C’ students”

A popular saying has it that “A” students become teachers and that “B” students work for “C” students. The saying appears to have been cited in print since at least 1979:

“As a college professor, I’m constantly aware of grades and grading and I heard a story the other day that A students become professors, B students graduate and go to work for C students.”

A 2013 source offered the possible explanation that “top-scoring students lack the creativity and social skills to be successful outside of academia.” A forum post in 2013 also explained, “I think it’s pretty accurate, most C students are C students because they’re busy with other things they find more important than school whatever it may be, B students work really hard but come up just short, and A students enjoy or prioritize their schoolwork more than anything else.” Some people who responded to this post thought that the saying was nonsense.


Google Books
The American Professional Constructor
Volumes 1-6
1973 (It appears that the correct date might actually be in 1979—ed.)
Pg. 60:
As a college professor, I’m constantly aware of grades and grading and I heard a story the other day that A students become professors, B students graduate and go to work for C students.

23 June 1997, Boston (MA) Globe, “McGrady: Jump shot? He’s latest high schooler to try leap to NBA” by Joe Burris, pg. D1:
“Students who make A’s go to college and get degrees and then A students teach B students, who graduate and work for C students all over the world.”

Google Books
Conceptions of Giftedness (2nd edition)
Edited by Robert J. Sternberg and Janet E. Davidson
New York, NY: Cambridge University Press
2005
Pg. 409:
In business, it is said with a grain of insight – or salt – that the “A” students become professors, and “B” students work for “C” students.

Macleans
Do grades really matter?
By Sarah Scott | August 30th, 2007 | 7:03 pm
(...)
So there’s hope for the C+ student in high school. “The truth is that many indifferent students do extremely well in business because the set of skills required to be a good student does not match the set of skills to be a success in the world,” says Michael Thompson, a University of Chicago-trained psychologist and co-author of the bestseller, Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. He likes to quote the old line: “School is a place where former A students teach mostly B students to work for C students.”

CBS News
April 27, 2010, 1:37 PM
A Government of Know-it-Alls
By P. J. O’Rourke
(...)
America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: “A students work for B students.” Or, as a businessman friend of mine put it, “B students work for C students-A students teach.”

Google Books
Schoolhouse Shams:
Myths and Misinformation in School Reform

By Peter Downs
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
2013
Pg. 34:
Reciting the aphorism, “’A’ students go on to become professors, while ‘B’ students go on to work for ‘C’ students,” he explained that the company believes that the top-scoring students lack the creativity and social skills to be successful outside of academia.

BodyBuilding.com
laxsgter
02-18-2013, 09:28 AM
“B students work for C students and A students teach”
I heard this from a wealthy entrepreneur awhile ago (owner of one of the largest truck fleets in the northwest, owns an NBA d-league team and has negotiated with David Stern, etc etc) and wanted to know what you guys think of it. I think it’s pretty accurate, most C students are C students because they’re busy with other things they find more important than school whatever it may be, B students work really hard but come up just short, and A students enjoy or prioritize their schoolwork more than anything else in life and when looking for work they know they have that fall back on their expertise

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityEducation/Schools • Saturday, March 23, 2013 • Permalink