Former 'Gifted' Students Explain Where They Ended Up In Life
Image by Nguyen Dinh Lich from Pixabay

When I was moving on from middle school to high school my parents had me tested for the "gifted" program. By some miracle I passed and was accepted. And then I turned it down. Everyone was irritated. "This will pave the way for any college you want! You'll learn so much!" this path will set you up for life!" Every adult tried valiantly to sell me this merchandise, but in my gut I just wasn't buying it. So I "settled" a level below, merely advanced classes. And upon reflection... it was the best choice I ever made.

Redditor u/dauntlessdaisy was wondering how far some in life got by asking... For those of you who were considered "gifted" in school, what are you doing with your life now?

"Sounds Nuts"

The rigid routine for the gifted kids is just too much for people that age. It almost feels like it's built to make you fail. So that if you succeed, even with a C/D average, at least you're alive. Like, how in the world does 4-5 hours of homework a night sound reasonable? All while engaging in extracurriculars for college and having some kind of life. And what really is the payoff?

Chems & Beats

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Chemist during the week. Drummer on weekends.


Average People

I was "gifted" in elementary school. Looking back, I realize that I was just average in a below average school district lmao.


I think that's what it really boils down to. How are you compared to your immediate peers? Then the school can round up a few, put them in a faster class, and justify their jobs.


Meow Meow

After a long battle with depression and burnout at university, I've found repairing electronics to be quite soothing/rewarding. I think mostly, because it's very clear when a project is done (it was broken, now it's not), which really removes the pressure and anxiety of failing to live up to people's expectations.

I also have a wonderful partner and a very handsome cat.

Edit: cat tax.


Say Ahhhh

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I'm a doctor, been aiming for this since I was 10! Finally succeeded 18 months ago.



I was praised for my intelligence, not my work ethic.

I got lazy as heeeell.

I'm trying to instill into my children that hard work and practice is more important than being able to figure it out first try. I praise the effort, not the end result. I hope this works out better for them.


You totally nailed it. I excelled in high school, then dropped out of college because I actually had to apply myself. I'm finally finishing my undergrad 20 years after I started it. What's funny is that now I'm that a**hole student who stresses about getting an A-.


See so far, it's all more stress than education. And of course they skim over the workload part of the situation when you're signing up. How much of real life does this prepare you for? And why aren't these kids seeing counselors on the regular? This group of people did a lot heavy lifting with no payoff. Let's see if anyone else had a better outcome.

Days with the Dead

I went into a profession that is less about being "gifted" and more about being personable. I studied Funeral Science and all my peers and high school students thought it would be a waste of my time and talents, yet 27 years later, here I am. I actually own my own Funeral Home where we provide affordable funerals and cremations and enjoy helping others through the rough times in their lives.


I Object! 

Went to law school, which I stupidly thought would be a breeze because high school and college were. Quickly discovered that everyone there was "gifted" and the professors didn't give a crap about our prior achievements or LSAT scores, etc. Had to really work hard for the first time in my academic life and definitely did not breeze through with As.

The first year absolutely sucked since I had to develop actual study skills and couldn't procrastinate all the time. It was really good for me. Got through, I'm a partner in my (tiny) firm and I have two "gifted" kids I'm trying to raise to have a better work ethic and study skills than I had.


I wanna Care

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I work my 40 in logistics to keep the lights on. Its a low-stress gig that pays enough that I can focus on the crap I actually care about.


Deep Breathes...

Panic attacks over the idea of failing. "Gifted" children more often than not weren't taught to work hard because they just 'naturally got it', so they grow up not knowing how to problem solve and tackle difficulties in healthy ways and thus are extremely paranoid over the idea of not being the best.



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The thing about those "gifted" classes is they don't provide you with any work ethic. As a kids we were just expected to meet the criteria, and we expected it too. now as crap gets harder in life, a lot of us procrastinate and slack off.


3 Degrees Down...

Failed out of 3 different degrees, went to work at an IT Help Desk from the bottom up and didn't go back to school until I hit the promotional ceiling.

That's the professional story, the personal story is a 10+ year battle with varying degrees of depression for the same reason. Honestly the most damning one is reviewing all of this crap and thinking to myself "so many other people have succeeded with much less, what kind of mess up gets handed these opportunities and still fails?"


When I Grow Up

In high school I was really focused on biology. Then I got to college and the world of humanities existed. I completely forgot about biology and after trying A LOT of other options ended up with a degree in linguistic anthropology. I went back to school and got a masters in HR (because money), but while I was in school I got a job in a legal department as a contract admin. I HATED that job, but contracts are pretty fun. So I briefly thought about going back to school to become a paralegal.

Now I'm working with my dad and sister to teach patients about pharmaceutical r&d, but we had to put the business on hold for covid. In the meantime I'm getting back into art...

I'm moving back to the area where I went to school and seriously considering a PhD in medical anthropology. I'm pretty sure I'll never figure out what I want to be when I grow up (I'm 35).



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I'm a librarian. One commonality I've noticed across gifted young people is they tend to follow their passions somewhat more than others. That means going after careers based on what they love to do, more than the pursuit of money.


Black Sheep

Being the family disappointment. High school left me with severe anxiety and depression from bullying and I dropped out because stress was killing me.

But on the bright side I'm in a very loving relationship for the first time in my life and we're about to move into an actual house together and start a new life, and I never thought I would be here.

Edit: Thank you for my first ever award by the way!


Staying Alive

I never went to college and got a factory job right out of HS. I worked as an assembler for 7 months and was promoted to team leader. I had been dealing with hip problems since I was a kid. 4 years after my promotion I had my 2nd surgery, and could no longer continue working. We had twin sons, and since I had been home for a couple years at that point, we decided I would be a stay-at-home dad.

When the boys were 3 I had a 3rd surgery that finally fixed me.Two years later I was severely burned in a brush fire and spent the next year having 4 more surgeries for the burn. A year and a week after the fire I developed headaches that led to my brain cancer diagnosis.

So now I'm still raising my kids and trying to stay alive.


Doing my Best

I started school early, went to a private school for gifted kids for two years, went back to public school and was put into an accelerated learning program, skipped a grade.

I barely graduated high school, and dropped out of college with a 1.9 GPA.

I'm currently managing a department of 10-12 people in an industry I love, in a country I didn't think I'd ever live in. I've gotten treatment for my depression/anxiety and a diagnosis for my autism. I have two kids, an amazing spouse, and a very patient therapist.

Before COVID I'd occasionally take lessons in things I loved— metalworking, glassblowing, that kind of thing— just because it was so good for my mental health to have a couple hours a week where it was perfectly okay to fail at something. It's one of the things I look forward to most once the pandemic is under control.


Weighing Options

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Med school, but I'd say I spend at least half of my current time wondering if the stress/mental health strain is worth it. Still happy though thanks to my wife and son who do everything to support me.


Early On...

Was considered gifted from an early age. Coasted and still did well through middle school and fine (not great) in high school. Got into a decent college, but still didn't really know how to work off of anything other than raw intelligence.

Went to a good law school and it kicked my tail, but did fine.

It was in law school that I realized that although I was considered gifted when I was young, I was not exceptional. The world had caught up to me. I'm currently a practicing attorney with a fulfilling career, but otherwise just another face in the crowd.

I have a child who is currently considered gifted and is off the charts on all things academic. I'm constantly reminding him that hard work mixed with his intelligence is an unassailable combination, while simultaneously trying to remember to let him just be a kid. I hope he gets it.


All over the place...

I have a BA in Art History, an MBA in Information Systems, I spent the better part of my 30s working at Home Depot, and I currently work as a nurse.

It's not the trajectory I might have taken, but I'm generally satisfied with the outcome.



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Unemployed after college with a useless degree and no direction. I honestly think if I left school at 16 and got an apprenticeship my life would be infinitely better.


In the end being deemed "gifted" doesn't seem to get you any further than "advanced." Heck, I know plenty of successful people who needed remedial math. I feel like we throw around that turn gifted loosely, like the word love. Define it before you use it as a label.


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