Street smart and book smart are two terms that have been thrown into many a discussion but to no avail. While on the surface it simply seems like the difference between an individual who went to college and one who didn’t, the actual terms go much deeper than that. The deeper meaning shows us that book smarts are usually people who focus more of their energy on deriving knowledge out of books, while street smarts are great at physically handling day to day life and experiences. This does not at all mean that book smarts cannot take care of themselves in the real world. It just means that street smarts are just more capable in that respect.

Now we come to a question that surely boggles everyone’s minds. Does a higher level of academic education really ensure success in the cutthroat world that we live in today? In other words, does being a book smart really have that advantage over street smart people in the real world?

To answer this, we must first know exactly what these two terminologies are, so as to provide a clear distinction between them.

Defining the Two

Book Smart

A book smart individual is one of high intelligence who has the ability to learn easily and quickly and has been educated academically.

Street Smart

A street smart individual is one who is situationally aware and has the shrewdness to survive in urban environments.

The Great Debate

Most people wonder whether what we study in school and college really ensure complete success in the real world. The real world is very different from the world of memorizing books and giving tests and schools do not prepare you to tackle real life situations. Sure being book smart is your ticket into the job market or making a prospective career for yourself, but what happens from there on?

Real life situations do not require a certain memory of your text book material. They require a certain amount of common sense mixed with spontaneous action towards situations that may arise. If you are a combination of the two, you will fare well in this world. But even if you are street smart, you will get by easily. Being a pure book smart, however, is not good because book smarts cannot move through life with grace. They need to make constant efforts to adjust to different situations. They cannot make quick judgments of what is going on around them, or how to tackle different situations. It is the street smart people who act according to what is in front of them in a perfect manner which ensures complete success.

Street smarts are not known to do as well in school as book smarts, or study as hard, but they make it nonetheless. They might get C’s instead of A’s, but being street smart helps them get through life more easily as compared to book smarts.

Why not Drop Out?

At this point you may be thinking why the world is bothering with universities to begin with? Why not simply thrust everyone into the real world and let them learn through real world experiences? That exactly is the catch in the whole situation. As mentioned before as well, for you to be able to start implementing your street smarts, you need to get your foot in the door. And your ticket will be the college degree that you spent all that money on.

We have heard a lot about those famous college drop outs like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zukerberg who made it big in the real world, and that had a lot to do with them being street smart, but what happened to the college degree being a ticket into the real world in this situation? Well, it’s true that sometimes luck hits you and you make it, but that’s not always the case. In most cases, your college degree is your ticket into the real world.

So Who Wins?

Since a balance of the two is what really makes the world go round, we cannot say for sure who really wins. One thing that we can say for sure is that the amount of your street smart knowledge should be a little more than your book smarts. Imagine being pulled over for a traffic ticket. There is no book in the college library which will tell you how to deal with that situation. You will need to rely on your instincts and problem solving capabilities to get out of that mess. And most life situations are like the above example only. Not all solutions to life situations are in your books. You will have to get these solutions from real life experiences, your own instincts and abilities.

Success is never achieved on the very first hit. You need to keep hitting the ball until you score a home run. You may fail the first 49 times but the 50th time will give you sweet victory as you will have mastered the swing, understood the wind direction and gotten used to the weight of the bat and the speed of the ball.

Find your perfect balance of book smarts and street smarts and there is no stopping you from achieving success. If you are still in school, try not being a complete book worm and make an effort to focus on things happening around you. There is a high probability that you will find them interesting, and this way you will get to interact with more people and learn to interpret different mindsets around you. Get involved with different societies and extracurricular activities. Those might not be real world instances, but they help you shape and mould your personality for the better and help you tackle real world instances in a better way. So start today and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Learn to face situations and you will be good to go.

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